Opinion: Generation Y – Why don’t they vote Lib Dem?

Last year the Economist ran a fascinating article on  “The strange rebirth of Liberal England” on how young people have attitudes in many areas which are very liberal, though as we know this does not necessarily  equate  with voting for the Lib Dems. Liberal Reform explored this further at a fringe meeting in Glasgow which included some polling on Generation Y. Our three panellists, Kavya Kaushik, Jeremy Browne and Paul Marshall, with Chair Miranda Green talked about the polling and what Lib Dems could do to attract Generation Y to vote for us.

The polling is very clear on personal liberalism:  for example the percentage saying homosexuality is wrong, that people who want children should get married, and that a husbands job is to earn money the wife’s to look after the home and family are all lower for Generation Y. They also have markedly more Liberal views on immigration, being the only age group to see it as a net positive.

On economic issues Generation Y are less likely to agree that the deficit should primarily be reduced by increasing taxes and are the least likely to support increasing public spending if it leads to higher taxes. They also support public services being delivered by a mixture of the public sector, business and charity.

On Welfare Generation Y are the least likely to support the Benefits Cap and a limit on child related benefits – there is a very clear link between age and support for these.  There was one really surprising finding from the polling that they are more likely to support a  ‘nanny state ‘ – 15 percent believe that Government should do more to prevent people making choices that may negatively affect them but not others and Generation Y were the only group to have a net agreement with this.

There is lots to think about here and it is clear that in most areas Liberal Democrat policy and values are aligned with those of Generation Y; the challenge for us is to turn this into votes.

You can see a video of the Fringe meeting here and get a copy of the analysis which was discussed at the meeting by e mailing [email protected]

* Simon McGrath is a Councillor in the London Borough of Merton.

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114 Comments

  • Charles Rothwell 13th Oct '14 - 5:39pm

    The answer to me was summed up when the local BBC News programme did an article on this very topic recently as a follow-on to the massive politicisation of youth which seems to be happening especially in Scotland (and which, as I understand it, the SNP is particularly benefitting from in terms of recruiting new, young members). The opening shots showed many young people queuing at a very late hour/almost immediately before the polling stations closed (quite a few first time voters) for the 2010 General Election and the vast majority of whom were going to vote LD and that for one reason above all, tuition fees. The programme then went on to interview a number of the young people and interviewed them again. The outcome was that the vast majority interviewed would not go near us with the proverbial barge implement due to what they continued to see (whether justifiably or erroneously does not really matter in the end analysis) as their having been blatantly betrayed over tuition fees. I doubt there is any way at all of wining them back (in part from Labour but much, much more, I suspect, from the Greens) in the foreseeable future (and certainly not by May 2015). The Party will need a complete rebranding/detoxification for it to again be believed by them. Given that 2015 is currently set to bust open the entire Westminster system (with it being a de facto six party race (excluding Wales and Northern Ireland), it may be time to start thinking about an entire reshaping of British party politics in any case as one half of the Tories hives off to join Carswell and Reckless (..and?) among the Kippers while Labour probably just implodes (in a manner for which its disastrously lacklustre Manchester conference was a strong harbinger) under the dead hands of “yesterday’s men and women” like Milliband, Harman, Balls and Cooper.

  • The Liberal Democrats will not benefit from a move toward liberalism until they start to be a liberal party again.

  • @Charles Rothwell:

    “The outcome was that the vast majority interviewed would not go near us with the proverbial barge implement due to what they continued to see (whether justifiably or erroneously does not really matter in the end analysis) as their having been blatantly betrayed over tuition fees.”

    Absolutely – and the key thing for the LDs is to get their head round the “justifiably or erroneously does not really matter” part.

  • David Evans 13th Oct '14 - 6:01pm

    The time has come for liberal democracy, just as the most right wing leader we have ever had has led us into the hands of the Tories.

  • People paying £9,000 tuition fees are not going to be enamoured of the Liberal Democrats. Not for a generation. Maybe your hopes lie in the prepubescent generation Z?

  • Simon McGrath — you wrote —
    “…There was one really surprising  finding from the polling that they are more likely to support a  ‘nanny state ‘ –”

    Could you point us to the question or questions in the polling evidence that used the word ‘nanny state’?

  • Our three panellists, Kavya Kaushik, Jeremy Browne and Paul Marshall…..

    Well I don’t know Kavya Kaushik but the other two seem to be possibly the last two people on the planet that I would turn to to answer the question “Why don’t people vote for us?”.

    Marshall and Browne are part of the clique that have got us into the mess that we are in now.
    These main movers behind The Clegg Coup promised millions of Soft Tory votes for Liberal Democrat candidates if the party shifted well to the right of any space it has occupied in the last fifty years.
    The result of their grand plan can be seen only too clearly in opinion poll ratings for the party since Clegg became leader.
    The crowning glory of Marshall and Browne’s world view is the 1% support for our candidate in Clacton.

  • Need to appeal to people who care about environment and social issues yet at same time are not on the left like the Greens or not attracted to Labour. Labour has few environmental credentials.
    I was personally not happy with the deal with the Tories, but it has put a break on them which is something to be grateful for.
    One area that must be focused on is how withdrawal from Europe would impact many of the areas people care about, for example wildlife/environment protection. There are huge numbers of people in RSPB/WWT etc etc and it is vital that the message goes out that leaving Europe would be a disaster for the environment.

  • Simon McGrath 13th Oct '14 - 7:56pm

    @Geoffrey – that’s a fair point.
    @John Tilley – you really do seem to make the same point on virtually every LDV piece.
    The question on the nanny state was “Government should do more to prevent people making choices that may negatively affect them but not others”
    @Caractus – Jeremy did not actually say that though did he ?

  • paul barker 13th Oct '14 - 8:14pm

    Good to see the Doomsters out in force, that should put anyone else off commenting. Their voices are like a shrill wind that blows in a waste land where no one comes.
    ICM run an occasional Poll called “The Wisdom Index” that asks Voters how they think Parties will do in The GE, rather than the usual “How will you Vote Tomorrow.” The last one gave Libdems 15%. The idea of asking such a roundabout question is to get away from the “Shy Voter” problem & it certainly worked very well in 2010.
    The problem with ordinary Polls is that a big factor dissuading people from voting for us is that it seems like a waste if we dont seem to be in the game. Thus we get a feedback loop, every fall in our Polling generates another .

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Oct '14 - 8:34pm

    g

    People paying £9,000 tuition fees are not going to be enamoured of the Liberal Democrats. Not for a generation.

    Yet Simon McGrath tells us “On economic issues Generation Y are less likely to agree that the deficit should primarily be reduced by increasing taxes and are the least likely to support increasing public spending if it leads to higher taxes.” So how do they think that universities are going to be paid for?

    The £9,000 tuition fees are what the ACTUAL cost of university education is. Universities have not suddenly had an influx of new money due to these fees, in fact the salaries of university lecturers (the biggest element of cost) have gone down in real terms. The tuition fees replaced what was previously paid by direct state subsidy. Anyone who moans about them ought to tell us how they would pay for them instead.

    Note that the Labour Party, though benefiting from the collapse in the LibDem voter over this issue, have NOT given an adequate answer to this issue. They’ve not proposed reducing tuition fees back to what they were before the current government raised them. They’ve proposed cutting them to £6,000 with only hand-waving gestures as to how the extra £3,000 is to be raised. So if Labour gets in, the likely thing is MASSIVE CUTS in universities to pay for it.

    Given that the £9,000 is the actual cost, however it is paid, it still needs to be paid. If it were done by direct state borrowing, it would STILL be the next generation paying back the same amount in loans. If it were done by cuts in other things, perhaps Generation Y could tell us where the cuts should fall. Or perhaps they should stop listening to the right-wing propaganda pumped out by most of our newspapers which seems to be behind what they are reported here as thinking.

  • “Anyone who moans about them ought to tell us how they would pay for them instead.”

    Absolutely. This is the nub of the issue. When the other parties are forced to come up with their own proposals where they actually have to secure the resources for university tuition somehow, younger voters will be forced to think again.

    I had a long conversation with one student about this on the doorstep at the local elections. She was angry with the Lib Dems – rightly – but she could also see there was no free pot of money out there like some people pretend.

  • “Yet Simon McGrath tells us “On economic issues Generation Y are less likely to agree that the deficit should primarily be reduced by increasing taxes and are the least likely to support increasing public spending if it leads to higher taxes.” So how do they think that universities are going to be paid for?‘“

    This ^^^^^^

    Whilst when talking with my fellow members of generation , I make a marked point of not defending the Lib Dem’s decision to break their promise in a really poor fashion, I do make a strong stance on the policy outcome.

    Far too many people seem to think universities should be ‘free’ until I explain to them that a free university would be home schooling (and even that has some costs).

    There is a world of difference between ‘free’ and ‘free at the point of use’.

  • Eddie Sammon 13th Oct '14 - 9:51pm

    I’m not comfortable with pitching for niche groups within society who are deemed to be more liberal than others. The other week we had people writing about liberal Londoners and now this Generation Y stuff, but at the end of the day we should be trying to produce sustainable majorities, otherwise what is the point of it? To say we had a go in government? We should be seeking to change things and maintain those changes and that requires multiple majorities.

    On another point, economic liberals seem to be very concerned about economic competitiveness, but not as concerned about political competitiveness, surely it would be better to think about both? I think winning all the time by doing the right thing is what we should be aiming for.

    Do any economic liberals have a plan to produce a majority?

    Best regards

  • Simon McGrath
    I merely wanted to establish that there was in fact no question using the words “nanny state”.
    You have now confirmed that was correct, there was o such question. So thank you for that.

    I assume the words – ” they are more likely to support a   ‘nanny state” are your words and not necessarily their opinions.
    The words ‘nanny state’ are as you know are heavily loaded and usually used by rightwing extremists to describe anything from perfectly sensible health and safety adivice to the NHS.
    If you overlay your piece with your own pejorative spin rather actually quoting the polling evidence, it does not inspire confidence that anything else you have written is factually based.
    And why do we have to write off for the actual data.? Why don’t you just publish it here or provide a straight link?

  • Igor Sagdejev 13th Oct '14 - 10:53pm

    @Matthew Huntbach

    Yep, it needs to be paid. It is, however, not quite clear that it has to be all paid by students. If we agree we need doctors, teachers, scientists, and engineers.

    Given the very small pay premium that university-educated people get in this country, maybe their should be subsidised (at least those, whose profession is of some use).

    You might be surprised that even in the United States one can get subsidised university education. Both my chidren went through the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (the oldest and still one of the best state schools for much less than the English students have to pay now. And that given that people with higher education are paid a lot more thare than they are here (and even more relative to the blue collar workers).

  • Tsar Nicolas 13th Oct '14 - 10:55pm

    @Matthew Huntbach

    “The tuition fees replaced what was previously paid by direct state subsidy. Anyone who moans about them ought to tell us how they would pay for them instead.”

    I would pay for them in exactly the same way that the Bank of England has paid for the Quantitative Easing programme – basically giving £275 billion away to the banks.

    I would get Parliament to instruct the BoE to ‘lend’ £x billion to the student loan company to pay off all existing student debt and enough debt for the next ten years – such debt to be paid off in 100 years and at 0% interest.

    Technically, there would be an asset purchase – the student loan company would cough up a note saying ‘I promise to pay the Bank of England £X billion in 2114.

    This is basically what the BoE has been doing with QE – just propping up insolvent banks and inflating asset bubbles, and effectively lending the money back to the state via the bond market at 4%.

  • Chris – Why not “on the left”? Surely all the signals point to that? The economic position. The political “space”. The ethics. The fact we live in an increasingly small world, and therefore a need to share resources better. It is not as if the Liberals have not been a left party. Until the late 90s that is, when “modern Liberal Democrats” seem to have taken over the party, accepting Thatcherite economics. Both the former Liberals and the SDP pre-merger were rather considerably to the left of where we find ourselves now.

    So, Chris, I repeat the question “Why not on the left”?

  • Paul Barker You sound rather like the religious sect in the book “When Prophecy Fails” by a psychologist called Schachter. Building up to the date they had heard from God was to be the end of the world, they did all the preparations they had heard in messages. But the end of the world did not come. We might have expected their faith to be shattered, but no, their beliefs were if anything strengthened, and they put the blame anywhere but where it lay. I fear that on May 8th 2015, Paul may be directing his ire at “the doomsters” for activating a self-fulfilling prophecy, rather than thinking he got it wrong rather spectacularly, and the powers that be who had warnings but avoided remedial courses of action!

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Oct '14 - 1:19am

    Colin

    How you ask a question determines what answer you will give. I find it amusing that the Liberal Democrats tend to focus on whether their should or should not be tuition fees. They will go into long explanations of why there should be,

    Who are you talking about? I don’t think there should be tuition fees.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Oct '14 - 1:21am

    Colin

    You are anathema to this generation, if it can be expressed thus because we’re not a mindless homogenous mob,

    Liberal Democrats are not a mindless homogenous mob either.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Oct '14 - 1:26am

    Colin

    If you, before the election, had stated that you weren’t sure you could keep tuition fees down, and explained your reason for why they might have to be raised, then you wouldn’t be in the trouble you’re in.

    But the Liberal Democrats did not win the election. Anything they proposed had to have the agreement of the Tories. That somewhat limits the possibilities. I certainly do believe tuition fees could be kept down. Unfortunately, what it would require to do that would not have got Tory support. Why do you and others seem to believe that 57 Liberal Democrat MPs could somehow have persuaded 307 Conservative MPs to vote for anything the Liberal Democrats wanted?

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Oct '14 - 1:33am

    Tsar Nicholas

    I would pay for them in exactly the same way that the Bank of England has paid for the Quantitative Easing programme – basically giving £275 billion away to the banks.

    So why have taxes at all? Why not just pay for everything that way? Promise 0% taxes and huge wonderful state services, all paid by Quantitative Easing?

  • Tsar Nicolas 14th Oct '14 - 5:21am

    @Matthew Huntbach

    Matthew, you did not come up with a cogent argument. What i have suggested is what was contained in a Bill introduced into the US Senate last year by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass). The Bill did not pass, but not because of any economic arguments. It failed because it offended vested interests.

    I met your challenge, Matthew. Now please will somebody explain why QE can only benefit banks, and not ordinary people?

  • Colin 13th Oct ’14 – 11:18pm
    “…..It’s not about the ****** fees. It’s about trust, and the breaking of your solemn pledge.”

    You are right. This point has been made before. But some people just refuse to see the big picture.

  • Today is Tuesday

  • Colin 13th Oct ’14 – 11:18pm
    It’s not about the fees. It’s about trust, and the breaking of your solemn pledge.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Oct ’14 – 1:19am

    Matthew, I think the most important point that Coin makes is — “…It’s not about the fees. It’s about trust, …”

    The party that you and I joined had a reutation for telling the truth, for being the honest party. People did not necessarily agree with us but by and large, especially in those areas where we were more than a token force, they trusted us.

    That trust had been hard won over generations. Clegg and his clique, for whom Simon McGrath and others are willing dupes, broke that trust within weeks of the start of the coalition even before tuition fees. Within a few days Clegg, Alexander and Laws (this was before Laws was caught with his fingers in the till and had to resign from his ministerial post at the Treasury) had moved from “NO TOP DOWN REORGANISATION OF THE NHS” to the biggest and the worst reorganisation of the NHS ever. What John Pugh our Southport MP described in Glasgow last week as “Deconstructive Maoism”. I think he was being kind, he probably might have liKed to have used other words which would not have been broadcast.

    But Clegg and co, and the front guys of the misnamed ‘Liberal Reform’ do not even understand TRUST.

  • Apologies that should have read —
    JohnTilley 14th Oct ’14 – 8:29am
    Matthew Huntbach 14th Oct ’14 – 1:19am

    Matthew, I think the most important point that COLIN makes is — “…It’s not about the fees. It’s about trust, …”

  • Peter Watson 14th Oct '14 - 8:36am

    @colin “the question you should ask is not “should there be tuition bees” but rather “was our behaviour with regards to the tuition fee pledge good or bad?””
    And that is the nub of it.
    Before the election we had a policy to “scrap unfair tuition fees”, we warned voters that Labour and Conservatives planned to increase fees after the election, our candidates went out of their way to make a high-profile personal pledge to “vote against any increase in fees”, and we campaigned as a whiter-than-white party with “a new kind of politics” and “no more broken promises”. Now, senior party figures and their supporters explain to us that increasing fees is fair and the right thing to do in and of itself, suggesting that the pledge was made dishonestly or ignorantly. They don’t seem to realise that a lack of trust means that every policy is now tarnished by association with a party and a leader that broke a promise in such spectacular style.

  • Matthew Huntbach

    The £9,000 tuition fees are what the ACTUAL cost of university education is. Universities have not suddenly had an influx of new money due to these fees, in fact the salaries of university lecturers (the biggest element of cost) have gone down in real terms. The tuition fees replaced what was previously paid by direct state subsidy. Anyone who moans about them ought to tell us how they would pay for them instead.

    That’s not the point. The lib dems won voters in 2010 by telling them they would vote against fees, they did the opposite. It’s this fundamental betrayal of the young vote that has poisoned your party.

    On the wider question of university funding, given that your own Vince Cable has admitted that most people will not pay back their fees – terrifying when you consider what this means for the future income of graduates – it solves nothing, as it still leaves a deficit that will have to be filled by the state. And it will be filled because graduate education is essential for our future prosperity and enough sensible people in all the parties accept this so it is unlikely the HE sector will shrink.

    Also, given that the movement in Europe is now away from fees and towards tax payer funding then it is difficult to see how the UK can remain competitive in the global market in the long term without doing something similar. It’s also worth noting the increased concern in America from academics about the cost of education there.

    Of course HE will have to be paid for, but if it’s not fees, then it’s either through tax rises or cuts elsewhere. That’s where the future political debate will be, and it’s one your party will find very difficult to make a meaningful contribution to given that it voted for fees, despite saying beforehand it would not.

  • Simon McGrath did not provide a direct link to he data. It is here —

    http://www.liberalreform.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Generation-Y-Polling-4-sides-Print-no-Crop-Marks.pdf

    I am sure Simon will thank me for making this more easily available as will all sensible people who do not want to soil themselves rummaging around in the grubbier recesses of the Liberal Reform website.

  • One of the questions that Simon McGrath does not mention in his piece.

    Do you agree with this statement? —
    “The government should impose further restrictions on the right of workers to strike in important public services.”

    Topical in the week that NHS midwives went on strike for the first time in 30 years because their employer is reneging on the agreement to pay them the 1% increase put forward by the independent pay body.

    I assume Simon has not mentioned it because the answer given by Generation Y does not fit his propaganda remit.

    It was reported in LDV that at the event to mark the tenth anniversary of the Orange Book, Paul Marshall was especially interested in imposing further restrictions on the rights of workers.

    Hands up all those who see the words “imposing further restrictions on the rights of workers” and automatically think it is a Liberal sentiment?!?!

    I wonder how 1% of an NHS midwife’s income compares with the wealth and annual income of Paul Marshall.

  • Simon McGrath 14th Oct '14 - 9:25am

    @John – I wasn’t aware that the right to strike was very controversial among Liberals. Not is the right of NHS staff under threat.
    So I am not clear what point you are trying to make.
    I imagine by the way that Paul Marshall’s taxes pay for a fair number of nurses.

  • This  is the sort of Globalisation that Generation Y fully supports —

    Left-wing Latin American leaders have congratulated Bolivian President Evo Morales, who has claimed victory and a third term in office after presidential elections held on Sunday.

    The presidents of Argentina, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Venezuela expressed their good wishes to Mr Morales.

    Exit polls show him on 60%, well ahead of his closest rival’s 25% of the vote.

    ….

    President Morales told cheering supporters at the presidential palace in La Paz that “this win is a triumph for anti-imperialists and anti-colonialists”.

    He dedicated “this triumph” to the Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s late president, Hugo Chavez.

    Mr Morales has overseen strong economic growth since taking office in 2006, using Bolivia’s commodity wealth to reduce poverty levels.

    Evo Morales became the first indigenous president in 2006 and is even more popular now, and not only among his Aymara ethnic group.

    He won the trust of many thanks to Bolivia’s good economic performance. Supermarkets, cinemas and restaurants are popping up everywhere.

     Ignacio de los Reyes, BBC News

  • As a personnel professional I think it is a disgrace that the Government has been prepared to abuse the ethics of an employment contract – even if not the strict legality. When people take on a post with an incremental scale attached, that has always been inviolate. One of the attractions when you take such a post is that your salary rises as you become more experienced. I am aware that such schemes are used less now than, say 30 or 40 years ago, when lots of private and public employers did this – which also encouraged loyalty to that employer. Increments have always been withholdable in cases where the performance judged through appraisal has been sub-standard. To give those on incremental scales the choice to take the increment or the cost of living based pay rise is just plain unethical. I am ashamed that Liberal Democrats seem to have accepted that without a major fuss.

  • Bill le Breton 14th Oct '14 - 9:58am

    I have been fascinated by The Millennials for some time. Perhaps it is because I am a father of two members of this ‘tribe’, who as it happens are wonderfully as different as chalk and cheese, upland and downland, yin and yang.

    As it happens, I have written about the Millennials in terms of how they play cricket. It was fascinating to see the younger England players reacting to the onslaught from Mitchell JOhnson last winter. Which is how David Burstein ‘got in touch’. I follow him now on twitter @davidburnstein and recommend his book, Fast Future. As a perpetually young ‘boomer’ I have always loved speed and the idea of the future, so what’s not to like about a book with that title?

    I am wary, though, about lumping together people who are 18 all the way through to 35. But that does not stop me being excited by what these people will do, will achieve, will campaign for. I refuse to anticipate what they will do. All I suspect is that if enough of them were to join the Liberal Democrats they would transform the Party in a fashion we cannot at this moment imagine. But they won’t (see below) and it’s counterproductive to try.

    They are instinctive campaigners. They generally lack the fears and inhibitions of their parents, who have been determined that they should not be inhibited in any way. They tend to be the children of a liberal generation.

    Does that mean they will become Liberals themselves? Certainly they presently expect ‘freedom from’. That is the very air they experienced from the cradle. Will they use their self-assurance and campaigning skills to champion ‘freedom to’? That is what is going to be so fascinating.

    How will they react to extreme inequality? They have not yet experienced this. They inhabit a world where opportunity still appears infinite. How angry they could get!

    It is therefore not surprising that the homogenous stats seem to point in a certain direction. But I think I detect in the stats already a journey that this generation is taking. It is easy to look at the polling and say, ‘look, they are going in this direction’, but it is because it is a snapshot. Already the 35s are looking different and making different choices to the 20 year olds.

    I’ll risk a prediction. They’ll make their own Parties. Generation X understood networks and were great at navigating existing power structures and taking them over. But if you can build a £40 billion pound company in three years, why retailor an old suit?

    And that I think is the fundamental reason they don’t vote for us. Even holding a fringe meeting like this with a few old f* arts looks like trying too hard.

  • Simon McGrath 14th Oct '14 - 10:12am

    @John – you are in danger of becoming a parody of yourself.

  • Simon McGrath. — you should try self-parody. It might be good for your soul. But before you do how about engaging in the debaratana the facts? You and your LR chums are constantly going on about Globalisation and economic growth and how itis getting people out of poverty in China.

    Evo Morales has done all of those things and more. But he does not exactly fit the Jeremy Browne template does he?

    Why is that do you think?

  • Jonathan MS Pierce

    think much of the reason will come down to media and social media. The Lib Dems have no newspaper fighting their cause and Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems are unfairly attacked and ridiculed as an easy target on comedy programmes and the sorts of places that that generation receive their wisdom, opinions and whatnot.

    The Guardian supported the Lib Dems in 2010 and is still sympathetic to them, despite the protests of many of its readers.

    All politicians are lampooned on comedy programmes by focussing on their foibles and failures. There is nothing exceptional about the treatment of the Lib Dems.

  • Ah Paul Barker – whomsoever you may be – a new index, only started in June 2012, asking a new question which has never been tested against reality. What will Nick and his advisors find for you to drag up next to hide his appalling performance for another thread. Time is running out, for you, for Nick (neither of which I care about) and for the Lib Dems (which I do).

  • @Simon

    We’re all parody now; it’s hard to be taken seriously by a generation when you’ve tripled their education costs on them after promising to scrap those costs entirely, and yet retain the leader that put you in that position!

    I agree a lot with Jonathan Pierce above regarding the media’s importance in how we became a laughing stock, but it hasn’t made me a big Clegg fan!

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Oct '14 - 11:28am

    Colin

    Your political aim was the latter. From before 2010 it would then be evident that you would not be able to push through legislation on your own. Yet, you signed “the pledge” in political blood, and went around among students with that pledge to get their support.

    It’s that second person singular/plural issue again. I didn’t sign the pledge or do other things where you use the term “you” in replying to me. I’m not an official spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, and though I retain membership I am so unhappy with the current leadership that I have dropped out of all activity for the party. So I would appreciate it if, to avoid ambiguity, you were to write “the Liberal Democrats” rather than “you” in this sort of context.

    I appreciate that the Leninist model of political party has now so sunk into most people’s heads in this country that it just seems to be assumed that that’s how political parties work – that they are all about the national leader and the Politburo dictating policy and practice, and members of the party just mindlessly follow what is dictated to them. I am VERY STRONGLY OPPOSED to that model of politics. To me, it is a FUNDAMENTAL aspect of being a Liberal that we are opposed to that model of politics. That is why I made the point here about the latest PPB.

    Nick Clegg is trying to blame the party membership for enforcing that policy, and using that as an excuse to reduce what remains of internal party democracy. But it was not the party’s democratic mechanism which told him to single out that policy and make this big “pledge” about it. Had I been asked about that, my advice would be to urge caution and only make this pledge in that way if he could be absolutely sure that it could be kept in all post-election situations. Those of us who have been involved in local government situations where no party has overall control know all about this sort of thing, and would be careful to take it into account when campaigning. But Clegg doesn’t listen to us, and doesn’t have that practical experience, he only listens to the ad-men and elite wonks who surround him and give him poor advice.

    So, yes, I was happy for this to be party policy, but of course I accepted it needed to be paid for, and the party should have made that clear in campaigning, how it would be done. I also think that campaigning has to acknowledge that any government that emerges has to be a compromise between what its components want. Elections should be about producing a representative chamber from which government policy comes, NOT about choosing between competing Leninist-style Five Year Plans with Parliament reduced to a pointless sounding board.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Oct '14 - 11:56am

    g

    On the wider question of university funding, given that your own Vince Cable has admitted that most people will not pay back their fees – terrifying when you consider what this means for the future income of graduates – it solves nothing, as it still leaves a deficit that will have to be filled by the state.

    Yes, so isn’t that what you and others who moan about tuition fees wanted in the first place – state subsidy of universities? So when the Liberal Democrats manage to negotiate with the Tories to have such generous repayment terms that it is much like what you wanted in the first place, shouldn’t you think that’s a good thing?

    That was my point. I’m not saying that the loans and tuition fees system is a good thing. If I had my own way completely on how to finance universities, it’s most certainly not the way I would choose. However, given the reality of the Parliamentary balance in May 2010, and what I would really like to see being unacceptable to the Tories as it would break their pledges, maybe this compromise is better than other alternatives the Tories might have accepted. As I said, one of those might have been direct state subsidy continuing but balanced by massive slashes to the number of university places. Another might have been just much greater cuts in other state services to pay for it.

    Unfortunately, it has been impossible to have a realistic discussion on these lines because most people would rather just throw abuse at the LibDems. General discussion on this issue almost always takes the line of supposing that tuition fees are something is isolation as if abolishing them or not had no wider economic implications, as if this big government spending item didn’t need to be paid for.

    That was where we got into this – I was noting the contradiction between the anger over the tuition fees issue and the claim in the article that Simon McGrath reference that “Generation Y” people are keen supporters of right-wing economics: low taxes paid for by a low level of state spending. Now what I think is ACTUALLY the case is that the people in question have been misled by right-wing propaganda and haven’t properly thought through the implications of what they’ve told the Economist. If they REALLY were fans of low taxes and low state spending, then they;d be cheering on the abolition of state subsidy for universities as an aspect of what they want. But I say, it isn’t what they really want, and we need as better quality and less biased general political discussion to bring that out. It isn’t brought out so long as any discussion of tuition fees begins and ends with “nah nah nah nah nah, nasty dirty rotten LibDems”. This failure to accept the issue of balancing state expenditure with taxation helps the political right, because it leads to naive people expressing support for their “low tax, small state” agenda without properly thinking through the consequences.

    It’s like the NIMBY approach to housing. Everyone is happy to sign up to the idea “We must build more houses to solve the housing problem” so long as the houses are never built in their back yard. Similarly, people can easily be got to express support for the “low tax, small state” idea, so long as they suppose they will be the beneficiaries of the low tax and never the ones who suffer from reduced state spending. Or people can easily be got to express support for some big state spending thing such as full subsidy of universities, so long as they suppose the taxes that would pay for it would never fall on them.

    Personally I think it would be appropriate for university subsidy to be paid for by raisin inheritance tax to whatever would cover it. But I suspect all those middle class “nah nah nah nah nah, nasty dirty rotten LibDems” people would melt away when it came to actually taking away the big dollop of cash they are expecting to get from inheritance later in life and using it to pay for what they say they want.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Oct '14 - 12:01pm

    ChrisB

    We’re all parody now; it’s hard to be taken seriously by a generation when you’ve tripled their education costs on them

    As I’ve already pointed out, that is a rather simplistic point. The ACTUAL costs of university education haven’t been tripled. Universities are not getting three times as much money as they used to. If it were still paid for by direct state subsidy, the next generation would STILL be paying back a similar amount, only in the form of higher taxation. As “g” has already pointed out, the write-off terms for the loans are such that much of it will end up being paid off through general taxation anyway.

  • Simon McGrath 14th Oct '14 - 12:06pm

    @John
    Morales appears to be distributing money from gas revenues – very difference from building a productive economy. His modelling himself and praise for for the two dictators Castro and Chavez hardly inspires confidence that liberals should admire him.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Oct '14 - 12:08pm

    g

    The Guardian supported the Lib Dems in 2010 and is still sympathetic to them, despite the protests of many of its readers.

    Unfortunately, the Guardian seems to publish only two sorts of commentary on the LibDems. The first is “nah nah nah nah nah” attacks on them by Labour supporters. The second is material which is outrageously biased in favour of the right-wing Cleggie wing of the Liberal Democrats. The Guardian never, ever, publishes anything which is favourable to the left wing in the Liberal Democrats. Just the other day it dismissed us as “unruly daydreamers”. I cannot in my whole life ever recall one serious Guardian commentary article which put the view of the point of the Liberal Democrat left or was written by one of us. I can recall dozens written by party right-wingers. That is why I call the Guardian a “liberal elitist” paper. While I sort of agree with a lot of its lines, it is very thoroughly party of the Westminster Bubble.

  • Hey Matthew,

    I understand your point, but I’m not sure how many will take the time to understand your differentiation between money coming out of someones pocket and tax collected at a later date. From the public perspective, it simply costs 3 times as much and you’d have a hard job of telling them anything else.

  • It’s surely wider than tuition fees.

    Generation Y have watched us triple lock pensions while imposing additional tuition fees.
    Protect pensioner benefits, bus passes, TV licences et al. while being unable to fund EMAs.
    We’ve imposed the bedroom tax for working age claimants but exempted pensioners.
    We’ve imposed cuts on council tax benefit for working age people – but as soon as there’s a pensioner in the family, they are exempt by statute.
    We’ve given pensioners wider control over how they spend their pension pots, yet frozen wages for public sector workers making it harder for t hem to start their own pensions.

    At the 2010 election, we had lots in our manifesto for younger people, with the promise of new politics. In Government, much of what we’ve done has been aimed at a totally different demographic (fat lot of gratitude they’ve shown to the Tories, with so many decamping to UKIP.)

    My own view is that the pensions triple lock is unaffordable,and it won’t last another 5 years. Scrapping this would more than pay for our tuition fees pledge. If we really want to talk to Generation Y, let’s get serious again about prioritising them when we make spending pledges.

  • It maybe wider than tuition fees now, but that was such a blatant lie it mortally wounded Clegg and the lack of trust is still the major issue. The opinion polls and election results since then have been awful and with the GE only months away they are still getting worse. Many members and voters deserted the party, but Clegg and his mates remain. They already seem to be in hiding, but what will it take to make them go?

  • Clegg and his team just made huge miscalculations about the loyalty of the Lib Dem vote . Getting bogged down on the issue of tuition fees achieves nothing. It happened and there is no way of making it unhappen.

  • I think you could probably just replace all Matthew Huntbach’s points with, ‘Not ALL Lib Dems!’.

  • Simon McGrath 14th Oct ’14 – 12:06pm

    Evo Morales has just won his third presidential election in a row. No serious international observer has questioned the democratic process in that country. If he has indeed achieved 60% of the poll that might suggest to most people that he is popular with the voters.

    I know you and LR do not understand the concept of being popular with the voters and that bynfollowingnyour very own Marshall Plan you have reduced the Liberal Democrats to a laughing stock that can only manage 1% in Clacton.

    Similarly you remarks about Hugo Chavez are just factually wrong. He was not a dictator, he stood for election and he won those elections. You might not have liked him but the people of Venezuela did and they voted for him. To describe him as a dictator is to peddle a myth which has no basis in fact.

    Fidel Castro was a dictator but in comparison to his contemporaries in other Latin American countries (mainly right wing miitary tyrants) he did not turn Cuba into a kleptocracy. I expect you would have a preference for President Stroessner of Paraguay, that model of a Western supporting, free market economy dictator who left his country in such an abysmal state that it was said the main industry was smuggling cars stolen in Brazil.

  • Peter Watson 14th Oct '14 - 5:36pm

    @Jonathan MS Pearce “not many people outside of LD members know what the LDs stand for.”
    Just “outside”?

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Oct '14 - 5:48pm

    In terms of not having support in the media: the Lib Dems have got the BBC if you play it right, i.e. don’t come up with cranky policies.

  • Chris Burden 14th Oct '14 - 7:23pm

    The comments here have so far largely been about newspapers. My concern is with the ‘neutral’ BBC ‘the BBkip? and, not least, its Political Correspondent Nick Robinson’s tendency, when speaking about the Liberal Democrats, to sound like a Doctor describing an eccentric patient.

  • @Tim13, I know what you mean.However, many of the people who care about the things I mentioned are not left wing minded in the way you describe.I think there is a world of difference between Lib Dem “left” and hard left socialism. I am not a political activist, so am just coming at this from how I see things in the areas that I am interested in. I don’t know a great deal about the internal politics of the Lib Dems. However, I do know that I would much rather have a Lib Dem ( of any hue) as my MP than a Tory. Living and having grown up in a South West Lib Dem seat that used to be one of the bluest in the country, I recognise my MP (who is on the wing of the Lib Dems you don’t like) is miles miles better than the alternative.

  • Tsar Nicolas 14th Oct '14 - 7:38pm

    If the Bank of England can create £275 Billion worth of money to the commercial banks at virtually zero p[er cent, it amazes me that nobody has caught on to the fact that a similar thing can be done for students and the debt burden. Actually it could be done on a wider basis for an investment programme that produces proper, high paying jobs, but that is another matter.

    The fact is that the the student debt burden is not just a graduate tax, and even if it were, a graduate tax is not justified because the wage differentials between graduates and non-graduates has narrowed significantly.

    What the debt burden is doing is dragging the economy into a lower level of economic activity than it should be performing at, as purchases are deferred and young people find themselves unable to buy their own homes. This is so sad, paying until you’re 60, and renting forever.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Oct '14 - 7:52pm

    ChrisB

    Hey Matthew,

    I understand your point, but I’m not sure how many will take the time to understand your differentiation between money coming out of someones pocket and tax collected at a later date. From the public perspective, it simply costs 3 times as much and you’d have a hard job of telling them anything else.

    Yes, and so? I’d rather talk unpopular truth than popular nonsense.

  • Tsar Nicolas 14th Oct ’14 – 7:38pm
    “…..If the Bank of England can create £275 Billion worth of money to the commercial banks ….”

    Do not be amazed. This is the world we live in. The rich, the oligarchs, those people who buy themselves a seat in the House of Lords all get away with it. Austerity is only for he poor and the students. It all comes down to political will. The leadership of this party does not have the political will or the political skills to change it, that much must be obvious to anyone after the years of Clegg as leader.

    The answer of people like Jeremy Browne is to do even more of the same to make things worse. In the film clip in the piece at the top of this three he goes out of his way to praise Conservative Boris Johnson for speaking up for the City of London.

    The Economist this week carries a piece in which Jeremy Browne lets slip his real identity —

    Key individuals in the party are even beginning to imply support for standing on a joint ticket with the Conservatives. This comment from Jeremy Browne MP…

    http://www.economicvoice.com/lib-dems-between-a-rock-and-a-har.

  • Paul in Wokingham 14th Oct '14 - 8:50pm

    I thought the comments of Mark Carney over the weekend were very encouraging. He clearly recognizes that one of the fundamental drivers for the alienation of so many people from politics is the way that those who wreaked havoc in the financial crisis have not only got away with it, but been the primary beneficiaries of the recovery.

    Carney said “‘One of the legacies of the crisis in the US, and by and large in the UK, was that the individuals who ran the institutions got away. They got away with their compensation packages, they got away without sanction. Maybe they are no longer at the most esteemed table in society, but they are still on the best golf courses and that has got to change.”

    Carmey has clearly got a lot more political nous than any of the party leaders.

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Oct '14 - 8:54pm

    Following on from John Tilley’s comment: if I were Danny Alexander I would probably resign in protest at George Osborne calling for more money printing. If anything this creates more instability and doesn’t help anyone besides the people it goes to, such as banks and asset holders. It’s not liberal, so to do it whilst making big cuts elsewhere is even worse.

    He recommended this cause of action to the French, he thinks he is some sort of genius and I want someone to bring him down a peg or two.

    If the Conservatives move further to the right chasing the UKIP vote then Lib Dems should pull out of the coalition.

  • Chris Burden.
    Very true, It’s not just the Lib Dems though. I watched Nick Robinson interview The Green’s leader and it was the same thing. I suspect it really comes down to the way a centre right perspective is seen in a lot of quarters as neutral and questions are fielded in a way that reflects this. It’s that “Tell me, when did you last beat your wife” style of questioning.

  • Tsar Nicolas 14th Oct '14 - 9:57pm

    @John Tilley

    That Jeremy Browne comment is truly shocking. We are, it seems, back to Lloyd George’s coupon.

    I cannot avoid the feeling that we are at the end.

  • @Matthew: interestingly, I was speaking to one of those ‘nah, nah, nah’ labour supporters (from a rather wealthy family) the other day about this – and he went very quiet when I quote some of the tax figures he would have to pay to cover fee university fees.

    The real problem is that the tuition fees debate is just a proxy for an attack on the Lib Dems, which is really just an attack on Clegg, as highlighted by the reaction I get when I explain that fewer than half othe Lib Dem MPs actually voted in favour of raising tuition fees. This all goes back to your point about Clegg’s biggest mistake being to make the party about him, rather than himself a part of the party.

  • Liberal Al

    We keep hearing how much extra tax we would have to pay to cover tuition fees and how the country can’t afford it, but it appears we can only not afford things that the government doesn’t want to do. How can we afford to raise the tax thresholds, give free school meals to primary school children, send our servicemen to war and fight disease, pay MP’s 10% pay rises, pay for expensive new railways etc. If the Tory/LibDem government wanted to scrap tuition fees they would find a way. Even at this late stage if the Labour party said they would scrap tuition fees they would walk away with the GE – Miliband or no Miliband. It wouldn’t work for the others because nobody would believe them.

  • Malc, I am in complete agreement with Matthew – and do not like the fees. The point is more that people say they want lower taxes, but then complain when services decrease as a result.

    As for other things.

    Tax threshold – case in point.
    Free school meals – much cheaper than running university and also the health benefits to the nation more than pay for it in reduced meal costs
    Army – has had its budget slashed
    Fight disease – wait, we should not fight diseases?
    MPs pay raises is not under control of the Government or Parliament, so not fair to be included
    Railways – improving our defunct rails is in my opinion vital, but I understand this one is contentious in some people’s minds, so fair enough, this one is contentious.

    I agree that if they wanted to they could, but the key way would be taxes. Just as many of the other things we want would really need taxes to be paid for: until people accept that, they cannot complain when everything (except our Rails, apparently) is cut.

  • “he went very quiet when I quote some of the tax figures he would have to pay to cover fee university fees. ”

    You mean less than 1p on income tax based on the costings in the 2010 manifesto (£1.75bn in year 5)? That’s about 2/3rds of the cost of pupil premium and just over 10% of the cost of raising the tax threshold.

    And that was the cost of scrapping fees – the cost of freezing them would have been massively lower.

    The claim that the fees policy and pledge weren’t affordable is simply not true.

  • Tsar Nicolas 15th Oct '14 - 2:04am

    It’s a shame that people are banging on about increasing taxes to pay for tuition – why is the principle of Quantitative Easing being ignored?

    Why can’t somebody put up an argument against QE for ordinary people?

    Because you can’t, so you ignore the point like an embarrassing smell in a lift.

  • Tsar Nicolas 14th Oct ’14 – 9:57pm
    “…That Jeremy Browne comment is truly shocking. We are, it seems, back to Lloyd George’s coupon…”

    At the time the Browne book was published only a few months ago, Liberal Democrats lined up here in LDV to denounce what was essentially a book of a Thatcherite. Browne himself denied it. His minions in LR denied it even more passionately. Maybe he should have warned LR members that within six months he was going to “come out” and calling for joint Conservative/Liberal candidates in the General Election. Maybe he should have warned them that he would be singing the praises of Boris Johnson, the right wing Conservative Mayor of London, as he does in the LR film to which there is a link at the top of this thread. It is indeed odd that in the week that Boris Johnson says there is no difference between him and UKIP, Jeremy Browne should be saying that there is no difference between him and Boris Johnson. I bet the people of Taunton did not realise that by going to bed with Browne they would wake up with Farage.

  • jedibeeftrix 15th Oct ’14 – 1:10am
    “I think that the lib-dem’s are stuck with the left-right paradim as long as they fail to define themselves as a pole of opposition to the prevailing ideology of the day, …”

    This may be a first, but I agree.

    I donot agree with what you go on to say about Common Ground,.
    Common Ground, the centre ground or whatever it is called this week,is an illusion, shifting sands, quick sand into which political parties disappear.
    Nobody with any sense would build a house on the common ground between Morecombe and Grange-over-Sands.

  • jedibeeftrix 15th Oct ’14 – 8:19am
    Thanks for clarification that Common Ground is NOT the same thing as the Middle Ground, or Centrism.

    Tebbit puts it well, especially —
    “The first requirement for a successful political party is to have a coherent vision of what government is for and of how those objectives could best be achieved. Without that the whole enterprise is worse than a waste of time. After that comes the consideration of how best to attract voters.”
    It could almost be a paraphrase of Chairman Mao.

    Having agreed with both you and Tebbit in the same day, I will now go and lie own ina darkened room.

  • Simon McGrath 15th Oct '14 - 9:25am

    @John – if you read the piece you have linked to you will see that Jeremy browne does not in fact suggest a deal with the Tories.

    And your support for Chavez is simply contemptible. This is what Human Rights watch says about Venezuala:

    “Under the leadership of President Chávez and now President Maduro, the accumulation of power in the executive branch and the erosion of human rights guarantees have enabled the government to intimidate, censor, and prosecute its critics. While many Venezuelans continue to criticize the government, the prospect of facing reprisals—in the form of arbitrary or abusive state action—has undercut the ability of judges to fairly adjudicate politically sensitive cases, and forced journalists and rights defenders to weigh the consequences of publicizing information and opinions that are critical of the government.

    In September 2013, the Venezuelan government’s decision to withdraw from the American Convention on Human Rights took effect, leaving Venezuelans without access to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, an international tribunal that has protected their rights for decades in a wide array of cases.

    Police abuse, prison conditions, and impunity for abuses by security forces remain serious problems. ”

    http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2014/country-chapters/venezuela

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Oct '14 - 11:22am

    Tsar Nicolas

    It’s a shame that people are banging on about increasing taxes to pay for tuition – why is the principle of Quantitative Easing being ignored?

    It’s an argument that could be put for any item of government expenditure – don’t need to raise taxes for it, just “print money” to pay for it. The extent to which QE is just “printing money” with the inflationary problems that causes, and to which it is a valid tool to be used to stimulate the economy is open to debate. However, most would agree it’s a tool to be used temporarily, not one to cover standard and continuing items of government expenditure, which is what you are suggesting here. If it were to be used to pay for universities, why universities and not all those other areas where people are saying more state spending is needed?

  • stuart moran 15th Oct '14 - 11:33am

    Simon McGrath

    Sounds like the current UK Government – especially the Tory part. You seem, from your posts, to be very happy with being linked to the Tories.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Oct '14 - 12:19pm

    malc

    How can we afford to raise the tax thresholds, give free school meals to primary school children, send our servicemen to war and fight disease, pay MP’s 10% pay rises, pay for expensive new railways etc. If the Tory/LibDem government wanted to scrap tuition fees they would find a way.

    The Liberal Democrats Manifesto of 2010 made it clear that raising the income tax allowance was to be balanced by increases in taxation elsewhere. It is an utter disgrace that the party leadership is now putting just tax cuts without any balancing rises as meeting a manifesto commitment. Not only is it not true, it also undermines everything else we have to say about the necessity to keep government spending down in order to reduce the deficit. I quite agree – this ought not to be the priority in the current circumstances. Free school meals too – this was not something Liberal Democrats were particularly demanding as a priority above all other things, so it was wrong of Clegg just to pull it up like a rabbit out of a hat. It has just made us look bad and rather silly, due to the problems of trying to implement it without it first having been thought through and discussed with those on the ground who would need to implement it.

    However, this does not change the point that full subsidy of universities is a very big expenditure item, and therefore waving your hands and just saying “why can’t it be paid for?” isn’t an adequate response. Paying for it WOULD require either very big cuts in other things on to of the cuts we have already had, or big tax rises.

    I often find when I try to discuss this point with the general public they raise items of expenditure which are tiny in comparison with what it would need to pay the tuition fees for every UK student, and seem to suppose they have dealt with the problem. This shows the inanity of much public discussion. I really detest the “huh huh, that would easily solve the problem, politicians are all bad people because they won’t do” line, because in reality it is a tool of the political right. What they are really about is attacking democracy itself. Pushing the line “politicians are bad people, politics is bad, we should have less of it” is really intended to push this whole “low tax, small state” line, which in reality means handing things over to an oligarchy of big businessmen. So long as people have been misled into thinking there’s some easy-peasy expenditure cuts that can be made to pay for everything, they will be taken in by the political right’s line which attacks the sort of radical tax reform which we need if we are really going to build a fairer society. Just today I read of the Conservatives wanting big cuts in inheritance tax. Inheritance is the biggest cause of inequality in this country, and refusing to tax windfall income in this way, while taxing income earned from work is in direct contradiction to all these lines about tax being bad because it is an attack on entrepreneurialism and the like.

    In “saloon bar” conversations, “cut MP’s pay” or “cut councillor’s allowances” very often is put as a supposedly serious response to any line which says “How can we pay for what you say the state/council should provide?”. A moment’s thought on this ought to show that with 650 MPs, the amount they are paid in total is insignificant compared with the cost of paying tuition for over 1,000,000 full time undergraduates.

    If we are to have a proper serious debate on these things, some basic ideas on the costs involved and practical suggestions as to how they could be met should be central. Yet we haven’t had that. Instead all we’ve had, again and again, is comment which seems to suppose that tuition fees are a thing in isolation, that having them or not having them has no relationship to any other aspect of government.

    My own feeling is that the tuition fees dilemma which the Liberal Democrats faced following the formation of the coalition should have been dealt with by the Liberal Democrats proposing the tax increases that would pay for abolition of tuition fees, with a free vote on those tax increases. The Tories would vote against, and Labour would be forced to take a position. I think that would have effectively ended the “nah nah nah nah nah” attacks from that side.

  • Simon McGrath

    My point was that Chavez was not a dictator, that he stood for election and was hugely popular with the voters.

    You moved the goal posts to talk about Human Rights Watch because you had lost the argument — you had got your facts wrong.

    You claim to be in favour of Globalisation, but not apparently the Globalistion of democratic participation.
    When people in Venezuela or Bolivia exercise their democratic rights you denigrate them.

    Which is maybe why LR and NickThornsby, and Jeremy Browne love China so much.
    The People’s Republic of China is in your world view a model of the future, never mind democracy and human rights.
    Although I am not sure that those Generation Y students on the streets of Hong Kong Would agree with you.

    BTW — you do not have to do a survey of Generation Y in Hong Kong to ask why they do not vote for a Liberal Democrat in elections for the man who runs Hong Kong. The answer is obvious — the Government only allows Governent candidates to stand for election.

  • Tsar Nicolas 15th Oct '14 - 12:26pm

    @Matthew Huntbach

    Technically, printing money has occurred when the Government buys its own bonds. QE is, arguably, something quite different, and as you say could be used for wider purposes than just relieving student debt.

    If the inflation figure is as low as claimed, then £275 Billion worth of QE has not had an inflationary effect, so why not try a similar stimulatory programme with other areas of the economy – areas which would not just benefit bank bondholders?

  • @Simon McGrath

    Regarding Chavez – his coming to power resulted in a over 50% reduction in Venezuelan poverty rates over 5 years, GDP has more than tripled in the last decade. He achieved better social outcomes than any leader in that area in our lifetime. Whilst he was a very dubious operator as regards power and democracy, he lifted millions out of poverty and into education, and that’s something nobody can deny. He set up hospitals, food banks and provided social facilities unheard of in that region. Your contempt for a dead leader of a country that you seemingly can’t spell the name of seems a little odd; would you of preferred them to starve to death?

    Since his death the Venezuelan economy has tanked and things are looking really bad again. If Chavez was so terrible for Venezuelans, why did they prosper so much under him and why has it all gone so very wrong since? I think you’ve confused some misdeeds with the overall narrative. Maduro is another kettle of fish, I can’t see him making the next 12 months, but your post seems indiscriminate and lumps both men in together.

    http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/7513
    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/3/7/1362655807377/Venezuela-key-indicators–001.jpg

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    >I’d rather talk unpopular truth than popular nonsense.

    Sure, but that alone is the path to 5 years of UKIP/Tory coalition, it’d be nice if we could find some popular truth!

  • Bill le Breton 15th Oct '14 - 12:46pm

    Back to the subject of Generation Y or the Millennials.

    Interesting polling figures from YouGov on the youngest element of them:

    Aged 18-24 voting intentions
    Labour 37%
    Conservatives 21%
    Greens 16%
    UKIP 12%
    LibDems 6%
    SNP / PC 4%
    Respect 2%

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Oct '14 - 12:51pm

    Bill le Breton

    Sample size? (Let’s not forget the “70% of 16/17-year-olds voted Yes” meme…)

  • matt (Bristol) 15th Oct '14 - 1:33pm

    Um, whilst I support the aspirationns of the piece, I think the chances of an article like this getting to the bottom of the issue and creating a debate that comes up with a solution are small for 2 reasons:
    – Where has the writer defined terms as to what Generation Y ‘is’?
    – The word ‘they’ in the title tells you Generation Y is being looked at from the outside as a ‘thing’, not from an empathetic / native perspective.

  • Peter Watson 15th Oct '14 - 1:47pm

    @Bill le Breton “Aged 18-24 voting intentions Labour 37% Conservatives 21% Greens 16% UKIP 12% LibDems 6% SNP / PC 4% Respect 2%”
    It’s depressing to see Lib Dems down near a single-region party and statistical noise 🙁

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Oct '14 - 3:19pm

    Tsar Nicolas

    If the inflation figure is as low as claimed, then £275 Billion worth of QE has not had an inflationary effect, so why not try a similar stimulatory programme with other areas of the economy – areas which would not just benefit bank bondholders?

    Sure, but you’ve missed the point. Subsidising universities would not be a one-off stimulus, it would be a regular government budget item. There are good reasons for suggesting a cautious use of QE as an economic stimulus, but that’s different from an expenditure item that has to be paid every year.

  • Caspian Conran 15th Oct '14 - 4:36pm

    I think the answer to why my generation is liberal but not voting Lib Dem is very simple. The fact is that we are not a liberal party and still advocate a lot of policies which fly in the face of economic liberalism and instead install statist involvement all too often. With a radical liberal prospectus I do believe that the party can not only win support but positively enthuse the younger generations back into political activity. This is yet to be seen

  • ChrisB
    I prefer your fact based and rational assessment of the recent elections in Venezuela.
    Perhaps Simon McGrath needs to have a survey of Generation Y in Venezuela and hold a fringe meeting on why people voted repeatedly for Hugo Chavez and not some rightwing free market extremist?

    BTW — I checked with the Human Rights Watch website mentioned by Smon McGrath and it would appear that Venezuela is NOT top of their list of concerns in Latin Amercia

    For example —

    Mexico: 26,000 enforced disappearances. Human Rights Watch

    In February 2013, Human Rights Watch published “Mexico’s Disappeared: The Enduring Cost of a Crisis Ignored,” 
    Following the report’s release, the Interior Ministry acknowledged the existence of a list, compiled by the previous administration, of over 26,000 people reported disappeared or missing…

    Haiti: Students Need Safe Water, Toilets | Human Rights Watch

    The World Bank, international donors, and the government of Haiti should include an emphasis on water and sanitation in schools at the October 9, 2014 donors’ conference, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to a vice president at the World Bank.

    Safe, clean latrines and water for drinking and hand-washing at schools are among the key areas donors need to address as they discuss combatting water-borne diseases like cholera in Haiti, Human Rights Watch said, based on its research in Haitian schools. Nearly 60 percent of Haiti’s schools have no toilets and more than three-quarters lack access to water.

  • Bill Le Breton
    Peter Watson

    The depressing thing about this poling data is that it probably also reflects the reality of what is happening to the young idealists who would in normal circumstances join us and work for our party as a centre-left Liberal party. They are the Councillors, MPs and party officials of the future whomhave been lost. They are the future of the party that has been lost to others.

    For more than fifty years our party has often been the favourite of this age group.
    Ian Dale the Conservative blogger noted that our conference in Glasgow last week was markedly elderly and white.
    All of this and the evidence of every type of election since 2008 indicates a failure of strategy and a failure of leadership.
    By which I do not mean just the Clegg Coup.
    Those MPs and Lords who are not in sympathy with the right wing insurgents around the leader should have done what was necessary to shift Clegg from the leadership in May of this year.
    Putting off the evil day when Clegg is dumped has not helped anybody, not even Clegg.
    There are some notable exceptions amongst the MPs.
    I hope everyone will send additional help in cash and support to those MPs who spoke the truth after the May 2014 results. They deserve to be there as MPs on 8th May 2015 and we will need them.

    Genuine Liberal Democrats in Taunton need to consider what they should do about their MP who openly praises Boris Johnson and calls for a joint ticket with the Conservatives in May.

  • I have not been keeping up with the news.

    It would appear that events had already moved on before my 6.05 comment –Genuine Liberal Democrats in Taunton need to consider what they should do about their MP who openly praises Boris Johnson and calls for a joint ticket with the Conservatives in May.

    Jeremy Browne is standing down.

    Probably best if I say nothing more on the subject. If I said what I really think … … …

  • Simon McGrath 15th Oct '14 - 6:41pm

    @John – he hasnt called for a joint ticket with the Tories .

  • Caspian Conran 15th Oct '14 - 8:34pm

    @John I am afraid you are hopelessly out of touch if you think that a party to the left would reinvigorate generation Y. The young are liberal and so should we be. Championing the banner or economic and social freedom.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Oct '14 - 10:29pm

    Caspian Conran

    I think the answer to why my generation is liberal but not voting Lib Dem is very simple. The fact is that we are not a liberal party and still advocate a lot of policies which fly in the face of economic liberalism and instead install statist involvement all too often

    The general belief seems to be that our party has moved very considerably to the economic right in recent years. So surely if what you say has any truth in it, we would be picking up votes, not losing them. Surely we would be getting cheers for abandoning the statist idea of subsidising universities,and for supporting the semi-privatization of the NHS, these would be key aspects in your generation flocking to us.

    For years and years, ever since I have been a member of the party, people like you have been saying that sort of thing. Telling us we need to become what they call “authentic liberals”, dropping all that old lefty beards-and-sandals stuff, becoming thrusting and entrepreneurial and pro-business. Telling us that if only we did that, if only we came across through doing that as a “serious party of government”, there would be millions of voters flocking to us.Well, we’ve done just that, at least that’s what people seem to believe. So where are those millions of voters?

  • Peter Watson 15th Oct '14 - 11:15pm

    @Caspian Conran “The young are liberal and so should we be. Championing the banner or economic and social freedom.”
    On Sunday Boris Johnson stated he could find very little about which to disagree with Douglas Carswell and that both were “socially liberal and economically libertarian”. It’s going to be a very crowded space with Johnson’s Tories, Carswell’s kippers, and the version of the Lib Dems you describe all fishing for votes in the same pool.

  • I am in generation Y Caspian, and if I do vote for the Lib Dems in the next election (how sad that I say ‘if’), then it will be in-spite of, not because of, economic liberalism.

    Most young economic liberals go off and join the Tories (ironically). Very few of them would ever consider voting us, even pre-2010.

  • Simon McGrath 16th Oct '14 - 8:37am

    @Colin : “’Id bring the buy to let under normal personal income, unless the landlords were incorporated. Ie, they’ll pay NI and tax on their rent income like everyone else” You mean in fact you want to treat them exactly like they are treated at the moment?

  • Caspian Conran 16th Oct '14 - 11:50am

    @Peter the Tories , and especially UKIP find it difficult most of the time to be socially liberal. Their rhetoric around Gay marriage and immigration surely proves that.

    What’s more if you look at the demographic of UKIP voters it is inconceivable that ukip will be able to stay Economically Liberal if they wish to retain their voters. Owen Jones recently wrote an open love letter to UKIP voters basically saying that he agreed with their economic concerns (Post 2010 manifesto) The rise of RED ukip and the return to Old labour, socially conservative yet fiscally collectivist, is in my opinion in no doubt. The recent proposals for a two tier vat bands proves this. Beyond the classical liberal leadership UKIP will tac sharply to the left economically.

    The tories, being a coalition between what you describe as “authentic liberals” and more natural conservatives have always meant that a liberal must compromise on some of the social progression when he/she votes tory.

    A true liberal party, being both socially and economically liberal, would lead to no such compromise.

  • I’m a couple of years north of Generation Y, but many of my friends would fall into this bracket. I think what young people want more than any other political ideology is social liberalism and equality. Almost all young people I know agree on these things, but economic liberalism is a great divider – some people are more disposed to state intervention than others.

    @Caspian
    Cameron introduced proper Gay marriage and, thanks to Lib Dems, raised the tax threshold whilst Prime Minister. He’s done better than any other Tory leader to appear socially liberal, even managing to leave the hunting ban alone, for now. Obviously deep down inside he’s an unpleasant authoritarian like all Tories, but he’s done better at keeping up a social liberal front than any other and I’m sure Clegg has helped him in this sense.

  • “Yes, and so? I’d rather talk unpopular truth than popular nonsense.”

    You talked popular UNtruth before the last election.

    In fact Nick Clegg gave this public vow:

    “I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative.”

    Now, Matthew, you see, it doesn’t matter WHAT you say, popular or unpopular, true or untrue.

    No-one believes you.

  • Bill le Breton 17th Oct '14 - 8:11am

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