Opinion: How to respond to the hate

News on the internet can be depressing: protesters chant hate-filled slogans at the party conference, there is violence at anti-cuts demonstrations and a sea of cynical contempt on internet forums.

The raw facts aren’t encouraging either. The most regular opinion pollster, YouGov, gives us rock bottom ratings. Although our share of the vote went up a bit in the Oldham East and Saddlesworth by-election, we did appallingly in Barnsley Central.

But I’m not discouraged, because there’s another way to find out what voters think. Go and ask them.

I’ve canvassed in Oldham East and Saddlesworth, Cambridge, and Barnsley. The response varied, but where we’ve worked it was good. Where not, as in Barnsley, supporters were hard to find.

In Barnsley, an ex-mining town savaged by austerity in the 1980’s, I’d expected outright hostility. It would be easy to let an aggressive minority discourage you, but most people were polite and respectful.

That’s not just subjective opinion. In much of our town centre campaign, we were collecting signatures for a petition with our Lib Dem rosettes worn prominently. If people hated us in the way the news would have you believe, there’s no way 4000 would have signed our petition.

People were pleased that we engaged with them. They understood the terrible mess of the country’s finances. They listened with interest, including some who disagreed with our forming the coalition. And in the small part of the constituency where we put in serious work, our vote held up.

If there’s any Lib Dem who thinks I’m speaking with yellow-tinted spectacles, don’t take my word for it. Go and find out yourself.

There is hostility to the tough decisions we’re taking on the deficit. There are some who are angry with us over the tuition fees pledge, and they have a point. But if you’ve not been canvassing, and you travel to an area where we’re campaigning effectively, you may be surprised at the positive response.

Even those who disagree with us can be a pleasure to canvass. I remember with warmth listening to people facing serious difficulties. Perhaps they didn’t vote for us, but they weren’t antagonistic. They spoke with honest sadness about how the recession and the cuts were affecting them. I know some Lib Dem MPs, and I know they are working hard to change government policy in ways which will help the worst hit. So I find these conversations make me more motivated, not less.

There are readers of LibDemVoice who defend the party against hostility on the internet, but who have never done any canvassing themselves. It’s very helpful to defend the party on the internet. But why not take some respite from the cynicism of those without the courage to give their real names?

There are bound to be campaigners near you who would be delighted if you offered to join their canvass teams. If you’ve never done it before, it’s not hard, because your job isn’t to win arguments but to survey opinion.

A week ago, a friend quoted another member who had said that we were going to do very badly. My friend said: “You could tell he hadn’t done much canvassing recently.”

From my experience, where we’ve worked, that’s very true.

Why not find out for yourself?

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36 Comments

  • Maybe Mr Kendall, but is this more a comment on the wierd and wonderful world of the internet rather than anything else?

    It is far, far too easy to get wrapped up in the internet when really and truly it represents nothing but a small cross section. It is worth remembering that this is not always something that people will find comfortable. My instinct for example is that the internet world got wrapped up in Iraq far more than did the real world.

    It is great that there is civility in the world – we need more of it. But just as much we need to take the internet less seriously.

  • @George

    Good idea for an article. Agree with you in part in that people are rarely unpleasant. However there has been a significant change in some areas. When I was a member we used to run a Saturday street stall each month. In the autumn there was a marked increase in hostility mainly from LD voters who were strongly anti Conservative. My former colleagues have now stopped the activity because they did not have sufficient numbers willing to stand up in public in that way. As far as I am aware they have also more or less abandoned canvassing for similar reasons. Many members/supporters have grown comfortable being all things to all people on the doorstep but are uncomfortable defending a national position they may not agree with.

    Before I decided I could no longer defend so many Coalition policies I had tended to argue that this was a phase we were going through and that long term the credibility of being in Government would eventually offset the relatively new experience of voters turning strongly against. I still think that is true.

  • George Kendall 29th Mar '11 - 12:30pm

    @Duncan
    “is this more a comment on the wierd and wonderful world of the internet rather than anything else?”

    Partly. But also that newspapers and news programmes are only interested in bad news. A lot of coverage of the Lib Dems is very similar to comments on the internet, it likes to criticise and find bad motives in everything. That’s not just because some of the media is biased, but because bad and cynical news sells newspapers and pulls in viewers to television news programmes.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 29th Mar '11 - 1:03pm

    As a rule the British public do not generally go in for “hate” in a demonstrable manner – even when canvassing for Labour in the most difficult time’s for the Party “nasty” reactions were few and far between. And it always worth remembering that people won’t usually hit you if you are smiling.

    That said – please don’t interpret the lack of hate as a signal that the LibDems are not disliked – you are to an unprecedented extent.

  • @AlexKN – my response is more that, if you don’t agree with it, just say so. I’m pretty sure that, in the Scottish campaign, I’ll get asked questions about the likes of the universal benefit – which I’m uncomfortable about as I don’t think tying housing benefit into it is the right idea – and tuition fees, which I’m totally opposed to (as is the Scottish party.) I’m quite prepared to tell voters if I don’t think the coalition policy is right, or whether there’s a policy that was ours which is actually better than what’s being implemented. We need to try to break this idea that everybody in every government party agrees with every policy it implements – that’s simply not and never has been the case (see Dennis Skinner, Frank Field, Michael Heseltine, and Ted Heath, to name but four.)

  • George Kendall 29th Mar '11 - 1:43pm

    @AlexKN
    “Agree with you in part in that people are rarely unpleasant. However there has been a significant change in some areas. When I was a member we used to run a Saturday street stall each month. In the autumn there was a marked increase in hostility mainly from LD voters who were strongly anti Conservative. My former colleagues have now stopped the activity because they did not have sufficient numbers willing to stand up in public in that way. As far as I am aware they have also more or less abandoned canvassing for similar reasons.”

    Thanks, Alex. I’ve never run a street stall, so I can’t comment about that.

    Obviously, my experience is limited to the three constituencies I’ve mentioned, but I suspect the main reason people have given up canvassing is because they’ve not done enough canvassing. That they have a mistaken view about the hostility they might meet on the doorstep, that it might be similar to the response in the national press and on the internet.

    We don’t need to slavishly follow the government. Shirley Williams is a prominent party supporter, but has expressed serious misgivings about the NHS reforms. If she can, so can we.

    If you’ve followed my articles and comments on this site, you’ll know that there are a fair number of areas where I’d like the government to change policy. And I’m strongly pro-coalition. Lib Dems who are not pro-coalition should probably feel even less inhibited about disagreeing.

    Besides, for the local elections, we’re not campaigning for the coalition, we’re campaigning for Lib Dem councillors. In some parts of the country, we’ll end up in coalition with Labour against the Tories. In many parts, we’re trying to unseat Tory councillors.

    And, of course, when canvassing, we don’t have time to change people’s minds. We should gather the information and move on. Leave it to the leaflets to convince them.

    If people have stopped local council campaigning because they can’t defend certain government policies, there’s something wrong with their idea of local council campaigning.

  • Liberal Neil 29th Mar '11 - 2:22pm

    Thanks for the post, George, which broadly reflects my canvassing so far.

    Most of the people I’ve spoken to on the doorstep are positive, and primarily concerned with the local situation. Our track record locally is standing us in good stead.

    A few people have raised the coalition, but most of them still distinguish between the national situation and the local elections.

    Of the rest, nearly all are still friendly. I have had two very negative encounters so far, but on checking they were serial non-voters anyway. (But claimd to feel ‘betrayed!)

    I’ve also had a few positive comments about us being in coalition. I suspect we will lose a few and gain a few.

  • You could start by honestly acknowledging the extent of your unpopularity and reflecting on how you might change your policies. An estimated 400,000 people marched against your coalition’s policies at the weekend yet not a single thread on this site yet about that almost entirely peaceful and democratic protest. Perhaps you should change the bird on your logo to an ostritch!

  • @ George Kendall
    LDs have stopped campaigning in my area because the organisation is much weakened from departures. People have moved to Labour and Greens or to non aligned as in my case.

  • TheContinentalOp 29th Mar '11 - 7:55pm

    George Kendall seems – from his posts on here – a very nice chap. He has the sort of amiable humility which allows you to disagree with him without any hint of hostility. I had hoped Lib Dems in Government would have been like that but the reality has seen them reach near New Labour heights of arrogance and contempt.

    Sadly George there’s not many like you.

  • Richard Church 29th Mar '11 - 8:01pm

    When you are canvassing for a local election, and campaigning on local issues, people respect that. I have been pleasantly surprised at the response on the doorstep for the local elections. I don’t know how people would be voting in a general election, because I am not asking them. I am talking to them about our record running a borough council, contrasting it with the Tories abysmal record of running our County Council, and people are making an intelligent decision accordingly.

    Richard

  • A good indicator of support would be the comment section on lib dem voice, go back more and more and see how many comments each article attracted. now the top few articles have none and the mid way down ones a few. not good.

    where any article on the protests? or nick clegg today talking rubbish about winter fuel allowance?

    a friend of mine, a lib dem member, a non active one who joined a couple years ago on tuitions fees policy but has never helped out or been to meetings etc, received a call from the party asking if she wanted to stand for council. it’s not looking good boys and girls!

  • Mike Falchikov 29th Mar '11 - 11:54pm

    I agree with those who say that on the doorsteps most people are pleasant and responsive. It’s not all bad news
    for us. I also strongly support the comment that bloggers shouldn’t be anonymous or unidentifiable. I won’t
    blog anonymously (and my name is pretty identifiable) – disguising one’s name to say something mendacious,
    irresponsible or just rude is cowardly.

  • Paul McKeown 30th Mar '11 - 12:52am

    George,

    I’ve followed your wise words here and elsewhere for well over a year now. I’ld vote for you. I hope the party has the sense to lean on you. You would make a good representative for the LDs in Parliament. Stand. I certainly would canvas for you.

  • George Kendall 30th Mar '11 - 1:24am

    @MacK “You could start by honestly acknowledging the extent of your unpopularity and reflecting on how you might change your policies. An estimated 400,000 people marched against your coalition’s policies at the weekend yet not a single thread on this site yet about that almost entirely peaceful and democratic protest.”

    This article mentions the prottests, so treat this thread as being about the protests, if you like.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but in my opinion, the apology should come from the Labour party. While, personally, I’d want to stretch the cuts over an extra year, that’s a small difference in opinion with the government.

    These are Labour’s cuts. They employed many thousands of people without the long-term tax revenue to pay their wages. They have negotiated long-term PFI contracts to build capital projects, without the long-term tax revenue to pay for them.

    Their promise to the electorate that they would be prudent with the nation’s finances has been turned on its head.

    They’ll win seats this May and get hundreds of thousands to attend protests, because they are milking protests against the very cuts they are responsible for.

    But, ultimately, I have faith in the British people that, wihle they engage in mid-term protests because they don’t want the government to be complacent, come 2015 they’ll remember Labour’s utter hypopcrisy, and vote accordingly.

  • Well any Liberal Democrat candidate is welcome at my door as I can’t wait to have a discussion with him/her about some discrepancies between what I thought the Liberal Democrats were standing for at the last General Election and what I have seen in practice since – and to be honest I feel so let down that I couldn’t care less that the candidate might actually might be a good choice locally – if you choose to represent a party and the ballot box is the electorate’s way of showing what it thinks of you then that’s what I and many others intend to do.

  • Duncan described the internet as “a small cross section”. He couldn’t be more right. As reflected in the comments.
    Dear Labour supporters, if you want to read positive threads about what Labour is doing, go to a Labour site. This is a Lib Dem site. Stands to reason that it would reflect a Lib Dem point of view.

    Oh and I agree with George. We aren’t obliged to agree with everything the government does, and I feel quite happy to say when I disagree. And on the doorstep people want to talk about local issues. I have not detected any change in attitudes. Of course it may help here that we are the only viable opposition to the Tories.

  • What I see where I live is that several people who stood as Lib Dems in the last local elections are standing as Independents this time round. I have also been told by several Labour Party activists that they have never had such a flood of people, (mostly young people) applying for membership and wanting to become actively involved. A couple of local Lib Dem councillors are really good people, but now seem to be ashamed to be connected to the party.

  • Emsworthian 30th Mar '11 - 8:51am

    Any canvasser who believes what people say on doorsteps must be very naive. It’s how they vote what counts
    and for that the signs, to put it mildly, are not good. Today’s UK Polling Report predicts 700 seats and 11 councils
    down the pan in May.

  • @George Kendall

    I’ll give you some abuse for writing this:

    “These are Labour’s cuts. They employed many thousands of people without the long-term tax revenue to pay their wages. They have negotiated long-term PFI contracts to build capital projects, without the long-term tax revenue to pay for them.

    Their promise to the electorate that they would be prudent with the nation’s finances has been turned on its head.

    They’ll win seats this May and get hundreds of thousands to attend protests, because they are milking protests against the very cuts they are responsible for.

    But, ultimately, I have faith in the British people that, wihle they engage in mid-term protests because they don’t want the government to be complacent, come 2015 they’ll remember Labour’s utter hypopcrisy, and vote accordingly.”

    1. They are not Labour’s cuts. They are the coaltion’s cuts and they are being implemented at a faster pace than your party campaigned for in the election.

    2. There was absolutely nothing in the Lib Dem 2005 manifesto about reducing spending/increasing taxes to build up a surplus. Indeed, the manifesto called for increased levels of taxation and government spending. Prior to the beginning of the financial crisis, you party did absolutely nothing to either call for reform to the government finances or put such policies into written form. Following the onset of the crisis, Vince Cable supported, almost to the letter, everything Brown did with regards to running a deficit (based on previous spending commitments) to stimulate the economy. Plus, your policy (from the 2005 manifesto) of keeping the national debt below 40% of GDP was exactly the same as Labour’s policy. At the time the financial crisis struck, the debt was below 40%, so we would have been in exactly the same mess if the Lib Dems had come to power in 2005 and implemented their manifesto.

    “utter hypopcrisy”

    I think that’s what Freud referred to as projection.

    However, if you happen to happen to knock on my door in Leicester South in the coming weeks, I’ll probably invite you in for a cup of tea. You look like a nice chap.

  • George Kendall 30th Mar '11 - 9:48am

    @Steve
    “1. They are not Labour’s cuts. They are the coaltion’s cuts and they are being implemented at a faster pace than your party campaigned for in the election.”

    Thanks for the comments. But you’re underrating yourself. That wasn’t abuse, that was reasoned argument. Though reasoned argument I disagree with.

    It’s true that the cuts are being implemented at a faster pace than we campaigned for in the election. But then, the UK only elected 57 of us, so we couldn’t do everything we campaigned for.

    The cuts are to sort out what the OBR estimate to be the structural deficit (ie a deficit that won’t just go away automatically as the economy recovers from recession). So relying on cyclic growth won’t work.

    We could wait a long time for non-cyclic growth to generate the extra revenue to reduce the deficit. We could raise the taxes that Gordon Brown didn’t want to raise in a boom – because he thought the country was taxed enough. Or we could do what Labour campaigned on at the last election, and introduce severe cuts.

    The main difference between the Osborne plan and the Darling plan that Labour fought the last election on is that Darling wasn’t prepared to say what their plan was beyond 2014, and wasn’t prepared to even do the preparatory work for a comprehensive spending review in 2009. The six billion cuts last year where small change when compared to a £156bn deficit.

    As Darling wouldn’t say what he’d do beyond 2014, you guys can, if you wish, claim that after halving the deficit, Labour would do nothing about the rest for the forseeable future. If that’s the case, I wish you’d say it. It’d be utterly irresponsible, but at least we could have a meaningful debate.

    But I prefer a more charitable interpretation of what Darling said: that he’d also try to deal with the rest of the budget deficit and at roughtly the same pace. (The IFS made the same assumption last year, in http://www.ifs.org.uk/budgets/budgetjune2010/tetlow.pdf )

    That being so, the main difference is that Labour would make the same cuts, but spread them over an extra two years. Hence my comment: these are Labour’s cuts.

    “2. There was absolutely nothing in the Lib Dem 2005 manifesto about reducing spending/increasing taxes to build up a surplus. Indeed, the manifesto called for increased levels of taxation and government spending.”

    Not our finest hour. But then, as Labour supporters are always saying in this blog, it’s not the job of opposition to propose unpopular decisions to tough questions. It’s the respopnsiblilty of government, with an army of the best economic advisors in the country warning them of all the potential problems facing the country, to respond to those warnings.

    “Prior to the beginning of the financial crisis, you party did absolutely nothing to either call for reform to the government finances or put such policies into written form.”

    Vince constantly warned about souring consumer debt. If more had been done to reduce the consumer debt bubble, there would have been a smaller bubble.

    “Following the onset of the crisis, Vince Cable supported, almost to the letter, everything Brown did with regards to running a deficit (based on previous spending commitments) to stimulate the economy.”

    Apart, of course, from Vince calling for the nationalisation of Northern Rock months before Labour finally did it. Oh, and apart from the bit about Stalin and Mr Bean.

    I’ve never criticised Labour’s immediate reaction to the crisis. My criticism is their failure to live up to the responsibility of government between 2003 and 2008. Being in government at a time of economic, boom, brings huge electoral avbantage to the governing party. The downside, is if they make irresponsible decisions, those failings will haunt them for decades to come. And that time has come.

  • @George Kendall

    “But then, the UK only elected 57 of us,”

    So why on earth do we have to endure your dreadful policies? You made a grab for power without any kind of a mandate whatsoever. Therein lies the basis of the “hatred” you attract. And then of course there are all your somersaults on policy. What did you expect? If you market a tin with “Blueberry Pie” on the label and when the consumer opens it they find metal polish they are entitled to be angry.

    Just for the record, the Tories, prior to the bankers soiling their own banks, promised to match Labour’s spending pound for pound. Now why did they say that if they thought that Labour’s policies were sending Britain down the Swannee? And the fact that your party is now parrotting the Tory mantra that it was all Labour’s fault and not the fault of the international gamblers and charlatan profiteers only increases the public’s contempt for you. We are not fools. Stop being an ostrich. Change your policies. Stop cutting too far, too fast. Better still, get out of the Coalition. Then you might find people more prepared to extend you some credibility.Your poll ratings might rise. And you might receive less hostility on the doorstep.

  • George Kendall 30th Mar '11 - 10:36am

    @Steve “However, if you happen to happen to knock on my door in Leicester South in the coming weeks, I’ll probably invite you in for a cup of tea. You look like a nice chap.”

    Nice of you to say that.

    I’m unable to make the Leicester South by-election. But, if I did, I’d be very happy to drop in for cut of tea… but on the day after polling say. Golden rule for me: never have a cup of tea when I should be out rushing from house to house covering as many voters as possible.

    So, sadly, I won’t be able to accept the invitation. Which is a pity, because, for all our disagreements, I welcome the chance for pleasant dialogue with Labour people. We need to keep the door open to a coalition in 2015.

  • @ George Kendall.

    Which is a pity, because, for all our disagreements, I welcome the chance for pleasant dialogue with Labour people. We need to keep the door open to a coalition in 2015.

    Don’t you see? That is the Lib Dems’ problem. People perceive that you are prepared to speak to any brief!

    Nevertheless, I agree that Labour has certain afinities with the non-Cleggite wing of your party.

  • It is not a question of “hate” from constituents, that sounds like the the Lib Dem’s current defence line, namely portraying themselves as the injured party. No, what Lib Dems are and will face with many many voters is very justifiable annoyance because of the Lib Dems lack of honesty (perceived or otherwise) and their leader who is regarded as (rightly or wrongly) a very dishonest politician. Please don’t attempt to blame the voters for the mess the Lib Dems are in (and yes the Lib Dems are in a terrible electoral mess, that is to say that not many people are likely to vote for them next time around).

  • George Kendall 31st Mar '11 - 1:07am

    @daveN “Please don’t attempt to blame the voters for the mess the Lib Dems are in (and yes the Lib Dems are in a terrible electoral mess, that is to say that not many people are likely to vote for them next time around).”

    I’m not saying that the electorate hate us, q

  • George Kendall 31st Mar '11 - 1:30am

    [Sorry – got cut off there]

    @daveN “Please don’t attempt to blame the voters for the mess the Lib Dems are in (and yes the Lib Dems are in a terrible electoral mess, that is to say that not many people are likely to vote for them next time around).”

    I’m not saying that the electorate hate us, quite the opposite.

    Any perceived hate isn’t coming from the general electorate, but a tiny minority: People who post hostile comments on the internet, without the courage to give their real name. A tiny minority of the country who gather at party conference and chant hate-filled slogans at us, as we walk into our conference. And the media, looking for a dramatic story, who quote the hyped up anger of a few, to give the impression that this is the opinion of the majority.

    I weasn’t at the trades union march, but I suspect that, if I’d been able to talk with individual marchers, I’d have found most of them to be polite and respectful. Most of them would have listened to what I had to say, and some would have agreed with me on a surprising number of points.

    At conference, there were a handful of people, quitely handing out leaflets, asking for us to save the NHS. I didn’t like the hyperbole on the leaflets, but they seemed decent people.

    I’ve met Labour members who are polite, honest people, who understand the very serious financial situation the country are in, and who would probably agree with a lot of my criticisms of the Brown chancellorship – but, sensibly, wouldn’t admit this in public.

    And those are all politically committed people who would vote for our opponents. The general public are much more sympathetic to what we are doing.

    What I’m suggesting to Lib Dem readers of this site is that they don’t let the rudeness of a small number of anonymous posters discourage them from canvassing. They’ll find that if we engage with voters, campaign on issues they care about, they’ll vote for us.

    These are very difficult times for the party, because we’re dealing with very difficult problems, left to us by the irresponsibility of the previous government. It’s easy to get discouraged by the difficulty of what we’re doing, and in parts of the country we will pay a short-term electoral price for it. But where we get out there and campaign, we won’t.

  • @ George Kendall. Thank you for that respectful reply.

  • @George Kendall

    “Any perceived hate isn’t coming from the general electorate, but a tiny minority: People who post hostile comments on the internet, without the courage to give their real name. A tiny minority of the country who gather at party conference and chant hate-filled slogans at us, as we walk into our conference. And the media, looking for a dramatic story, who quote the hyped up anger of a few, to give the impression that this is the opinion of the majority.”

    Really! You are in a political party the actions of which are damaging and destroying people’s lives. Do you really expect them to treat you with kid gloves? To suggest that your opposition is coming purely from a tiny minority of people on the internet and in the media is ludicrous. Anecdotally, I know many who do not use the internet, but who voted for your party last time and are waiting for a Liberal Democrat to appear on their doorstep so that they can give him or her a piece of their mind. Now you know how Labour and poor Gordon Brown felt when they were being abused right up to the last general election by your party, the Tories’ and your friends in the right wing media. That was because you were all determined we weren’t going to receive a fourth term. “From Stalin to Mr Bean” How nice was that? And there was worse. Much worse. But we’re not wimps in the Labour Party. We know it goes with the territory. We took it on the chin and still went out campaigning and in the end we stopped the Tories getting past the winning post! And then your lot cynically grabbed power and enabled the Tories to do what they planned to do anyway. And you wonder why people are angry?

  • George,

    I have spent 30 years canvassing for the Liberals and Lib Dems and I have no doubt that if I went out now, you may be right that where we have ‘worked the ground’ before, the door-step reaction may not be as bad as is being painted. But George, the question should not be HOW to respond, but WHO WILL respond? In many areas like mine, the activisits and ground-troops have gone because like me they are unhappy with the recent direction of the party. There is likely to be a poor result for the Lib Dems in May and this will be due in part to current unpopularity, but it will also be due to lack of activists on the ground. In some areas there will be no effective campaign. I will not actively campaign for the current party orthodoxy of Orange-Bookery, and I have spoken with many former activists who feel the same.

    There are rumours that Nick Clegg thinks that the party needs to be re-branded, presumably to ‘Not-Quite-So-Orange-Book’. I suspect that won’t bring back your canvassers and activisits back either George. Give ’em the Old Party and it’s policies back and I suspect like me they’ll return to the doorsteps, committee rooms and polling stations.

  • @George Kendall

    I think part of your problems is you don’t see any correlation at all in local to national politics, I am sorry it does not work that way.

    “Besides, for the local elections, we’re not campaigning for the coalition, we’re campaigning for Lib Dem councillors. In some parts of the country, we’ll end up in coalition with Labour against the Tories. In many parts, we’re trying to unseat Tory councillors.”

    When the electors believe government is wrong the first chance they get to show their feelings is at LE, it does not matter that Liberal Democrats are the minority in government, Liberal Democrats made certain promises which with hindsight turned out to be lies.
    It does not matter the spin on that, Liberal Democrats failed those; who voted for you because of those promises, the perception is Liberal Democrats will promise and say anything to gain or stay in power.

    So vote for us to keep Conservative/Labour out in LE or GE I don’t think is going to work anymore.(not even with AV)

    The first chance to show Liberal Democrats just how pleased the electorate are with government and Liberal Democrats in particular is on May 5th, maybe, just maybe Liberal Democrats will listen to the electorate, I fear not because you believe you know what is best and are hoping the AV vote will make it a worthwhile sacrifice, if that fails I hope Liberal Democrats spend the 30 pieces of silver wisely.

    James Moss……

  • Can I pick up on one small point from your post, George? Why do you keep equating anonymity with lack of courage? I don’t get it. It is true that people posting malicious drivel (here or elsewhere) will often want to be anonymous, but that doesn’t mean others don’t have legitimate reasons for wanting to remain anonymous. I for one have a distinctive and easily google-able name and work as a teacher (at a university), and am frequently applying for jobs – I don’t want my prospective employers/students/anyone else learning about my political beliefs without me knowing about it. I am perfectly entitled to that stance, the idea that courage (or lack thereof) has anything to do with it is laughable. Courage is quite a strong word.

    I have posted many points critical of the party over the last year; I am not a party member, just a (former) serial Lib Dem voter, so my name wouldn’t mean anything to anybody anyway. I don’t usually weigh-in just for the hell of it, so I hope I am not one of the anonymous troublemakers you are referring to, but even so I don’t think the fact that anyone chooses to post anonymously should be held against them. It is not cowardly, it is perfectly reasonable. Personal liberty and all that.

  • an angry voter 31st Mar '11 - 10:34pm

    To be fair George – apart from yourself we end up repeatedly seeing the immaturity of Lib Dems on here and in public – take the Lib Dem member who said to some students in Leeds, ‘vote for us and we’ll get rid of the fees, and this time we mean it’ – what is that meant to imply? – Take the other one which is telling people to vote for AV to get the Lib Dems perpetually in government – it only suggests to us that you’re in it for your own ends. I mean some of the lies – which they are (given the recent revelations) are inexcusable, why on earth should we

    And then we get the Lib Dems lambasting the public, whether it be decrying them as racist, cretins or ungrateful creatures – We dont take too kindly to being spoken of like that, and the least you could do was apologise. But we’re the bad guys as another LD has said, – because we have that cheek to hold a different opinion.

  • George Kendall 31st Mar '11 - 11:04pm

    Thanks for the replies. Just about to go away for a long weekend, so will reply when I get back.

  • George Kendall 3rd Apr '11 - 2:42pm

    @Steve G

    You’re right that the party has lost valued activists because of the coalition. But I think a lot of the loss of activism is the age-old problem of activists who are shy about meeting the electorate. This is particularly a problem now, as we adapt to the new situation of being in government at a time of a very serious budget deficit.

    People I trust tell me that membership figures are up. But probably reluctance to go canvassing is also up, partly due to a misplaced fear of hostility on the doorstep. Hopefully, with time, shyness will decline, and new members will gain experience and confidence to go out canvassing. (And for any new member reading this, canvassing is easy – you are just gathering information, you don’t need to know the answers. Why not try it out this week?)

    “I will not actively campaign for the current party orthodoxy of Orange-Bookery, and I have spoken with many former activists who feel the same.”

    This is a real pity. If you can’t campaign locally, I wish folk like you would join the social liberal forum, seek out like-minded Lib Dems standing for the council, and travel to canvass for them.

    I like the party with a balance of economic and social liberals. I’m sure most feel the same way. But if folk like you leave, that’ll inevitably shift the party’s centre of gravity away from the left.

    @Alex P “Can I pick up on one small point from your post, George? Why do you keep equating anonymity with lack of courage? I don’t get it. It is true that people posting malicious drivel (here or elsewhere) will often want to be anonymous, but that doesn’t mean others don’t have legitimate reasons for wanting to remain anonymous.”

    I completely agree. Some anonymous people contribute to the debate in a serious and respectful way. (And some of them are members of the Labour party) They are an asset to any discussion. Sorry if I appeared to say the opposite.

    But, if someone is going to be rude, I think they should at least have the courage to give their real name.

    Accusing someone of being rude is pretty counterproductive. But, if you make general comments about rudeness, some polite people think you are referring to them, while rude people pay no attention. So, for the record, I’m not talking about you 😉

    @an angry voter “To be fair George – apart from yourself we end up repeatedly seeing the immaturity of Lib Dems on here and in public”

    Thanks for the compliment, but I think you’re being unfair on a lot of Lib Dem contributors to this site.

    All too often immaturity and rudeness is in the eye of the beholder. I’m sure there’s some immaturity by pro-coalition Lib Dems which I’ve not noticed. But I’m very conscious of aggressive comments in this forum from anti-Lib Dem people. I particularly dislike it when they attack people, rather than specific policies, or where someone picks a sentence out of context, and attacks it as if you hadn’t said anything else. It’s pointless to continue a discussion with someone like that.

    I think the best approach is to ignore the people who annoy you, and just engage with the people who don’t.

    Unfortunately, most people do the opposite, and as a result, the internet is full of flame wars. Then the bad drives out the good, and people who enjoy serious respectful discussion go elsewhere.

    That said, I think the discussions on LDV have improved recently.

    @daveN
    Thanks, nice of you to say that.

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