Opinion: Rebuilding the party – lessons from history

I’ve already had journalists ring me up to ask when was the last time Liberals did so badly. The answer is 1970, when the Liberal Party won six seats on the back of 2.1 million votes, 7.5 per cent of those who voted. Last week’s result was similar: eight seats from 2.4 million votes, 7.9 per cent of those who voted.

There are other parallels. The opinion polls in 1970 had pointed consistently to a victory for Harold Wilson’s outgoing Labour government; Ted Heath’s win for the Conservatives came as a considerable surprise. On the other hand, then the polls underestimated Liberal strength. In the end the Liberals lost seven of the thirteen seats they had held at dissolution (twelve won at the previous election, in 1966, plus one by-election gain), bringing to an abrupt end the Liberal revival which had begun in the late 1950s.

Yet compared to 1970, there are some crumbs of comfort for us today. 2015’s eight seats are much more diverse and representative of the electorate, with three in urban areas, and the six English seats dispersed across four different regions. In 1970 all six Liberal victors sat for rural ‘Celtic fringe’ seats: three in Scotland, one in Wales and two in South West England. And despite the catastrophic results, the party at least managed to put up a candidate in every seat this year; in 1970 the Liberals only fought 322 of the 628 seats in the Commons.

But look what happened next. Although poll ratings remained appalling for almost another two years, between October 1972 and November 1973 the Liberals won no less than five by-election victories. In the following election, in February 1974, the party fought 517 seats (the highest number since 1906), and saw its vote jump to over 6 million, 19.3 per cent of the total.

Why? The early 1970s marked the beginning of the crumbling of the two-party stranglehold on votes; whereas in 1970 89.5 per cent of those who voted supported either Conservatives or Labour, by 1974 this was down to 75.1 per cent. (In 2015 it was 67.3 per cent, only just up from 65.1 per cent in 2010.) The Liberals proved to be adept at exploiting the growing disillusion of the country with the two bigger parties, neither of whom appeared to be capable of managing the economy or Britain’s place in the world effectively.

The debates in 1971–72 round Britain’s entry to the European Economic Community split both the other parties (though on that occasion Labour was mostly against, the Tories mostly for), and on more than one occasion the tiny band of Parliamentary Liberals was instrumental in ensuring that the legislation passed. Europe provided a cause for Liberals – and others, including Labour rebels who would later found the SDP – to rally round.

And of course, and of most significance, in 1970 the Liberal Assembly passed the famous community politics resolution, committing the party to ‘help organise people in communities to take and use power, to use our political skills to redress grievances, and to represent people at all levels of the political structure’. This was not an entirely new approach – Liberals in some places had been following it for years – and it was not a major contributor to the result in 1974, but it marked the fist time the party had committed itself to other aims beside winning Parliamentary seats, and it was to underpin many of the later successes of the 1980s and 1990s.

Lessons from history? The implications are obvious: the need for a clear cause and an effective strategy. So I’ll finish with more extracts from the community politics resolution:

This assembly, recognising that, in a world in which Liberal values are increasingly under attack, the need for a political party dedicated to the promotion of Liberal principles and Liberal policies is of ever-growing importance … endorses the following objectives:

… A national strategy based on … the provision of an aggressive political lead on issues of moral concern, injustice and oppression and the use of these campaigns to publicise Liberal attitudes and policies

… The building of a national image to capture people’s imagination as a credible political movement, with local roots and local successes

* Duncan Brack is the Editor of the Journal of Liberal History and Vice Chair of the Federal Policy Committee.

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48 Comments

  • David Pollard 11th May '15 - 9:20am

    “Campaigning on your behalf all year round” “Keeping you informed”. It still works at local level. How I remember those early days, and now we have to do it all over again.

  • Robert Wootton 11th May '15 - 9:22am

    About the Community politics resolution. In a redesigned economic system, to claim your personal tax allowance it would be necessary for a person to be a member of their local Resident’s Association. And the Association must be registered with their District Council. This would be also a solution the non-dom problem.

    As an aside, if I recall correctly, Robert Maxwell never paid UK income tax because he was classed as a tourist!

  • Roger Roberts 11th May '15 - 9:26am

    Came across this quote – 1923 Lord Carson attacking Lord Birkenhead re Irish Home Rule
    ” I thought of the last thirty years, during which I was fighting with others whose friendship and comradeship I hope I will lose from tonight, because I do not value any friendship that is not founded upon confidence and trust. I was in earnest. What a fool I was. I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster,and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power. And of all the men in my experience that I think are the most loathsome, it is those who sell their friends for the purpose of conciliating their enemies, and, perhaps, worse still, the men who climb up a ladder into power, of which even I may have been part of a humble rung, and then when they have got into power, kick the ladder away without any concern for the pain, or injury, or mischief or damage that they do to those who have helped them to gain power ” Any message in 2015 ?

  • It was much worse than 1970, then there were only 339 candidates who achieved the 7%. However the same message applies, take a breath, build up a base, get some consistent local election gains, they do not have to any large, hope the EEC referendum keeps us in and thereby removes that topic from the airwaves and pray that any by elections fall in favorable areas. I suspect the first may be Sheffield Hallam so we certainly need to work that seat, bearing in mind the not so good local election results.

  • We should start our rebuilding efforts with a sobering look at the underlying facts of our defeat. A post-election opinion poll published by Survation for the Mail on Sunday shows that of our 2010 voters:

    1) 34.3% stayed with the party;
    2) 22.1% went to Labour;
    3) 6.5% went to the Greens;
    4) 3.6% went to nationalist parties
    5) 20.7% went to the Conservatives
    6) 11.0% went to UKIP

    So, while 32.2% switched to parties of the left, and almost identical number (31.7%) went to parties of the right or far right. Those who seek to blame the coalition for all our troubles and in doing so demanding a swing back to the “true principles” of leftwing liberalism are therefore ignoring a major aspect of last Thursday’s poll: our haemorrhaging of support to the Conservatives and UKIP. The fact is that last week the political ground shifted under our feet. How we can cope with this fracturing of the middle ground in UK politics I don’t know, but we need at least to be aware of it.

    http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Final-MoS-Post-election-poll-1c0d2h7.pdf

  • Denis Mollison 11th May '15 - 9:47am

    RC- “How we can cope with this fracturing of the middle ground in UK politics .. ?”

    Our biggest mistake was to talk in terms of “middle ground”, in which we were some kind of average of Conservative and Labour. The way to “cope” is to reassert that the left-right spectrum is only one dimension of politics, and to campaign for what we positively believe in: localism, environmentalism, civil liberties, etc

  • @RC

    The problem with your analysis is a lot of people who voted UKIP do not see themselves as right wing at all.

    I had to convince my elderly parents who had always voted Labour, not to Vote UKIP in Great Yarmouth.
    My parents had no idea what they were voting for, My mum admitted to being swept up in the tide of the rise of UKIP by her fellow pensioners in the bingo hall in a seaside town, all convinced that the EU is all to blame for our ill’s

    When I asked her to tell me what else she thought UKIP stood for and what sort of Government they would provide for the future of her Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren, she had absolutely no idea.
    Thankfully she saw sense and did not vote for them.
    My parents have always been left wing voters, And yet here they were and many like them ready and prepared to vote for a very right wing party.

  • And it was not because my parents have become Right Wing {far from it} they just had no idea what they were voting for and were being swept up in a trend.

  • Lets forget the terms left, right centre..they are meaningless to the average voter…they know what they dont want and vote accordingly.So lets as has been previously stated, argue for the backbone policies of our party and join togethet nto shout them from the rooftops.Some begin the old chestnut of joining with Labour to form a new left leaning party…Cannot think of anything less appealing to Liberals or the general public. Core principles are the key lads and lasses

  • bob sayer 11th May ’15 – 9:58am

    “Some begin the old chestnut of joining with Labour to form a new left leaning party…Cannot think of anything less appealing to Liberals or the general public.”

    We will have to see who wins the Labour leadership – but I would have thought that there is a very good chance of the Blairites returning to power [Chuka Umunna is favourite with the bookies] and a return of New Labour -along with ‘the centre ground’.

    It seems as though there is some on LDV who would choose this for the Party – might become overcrowded there!

    Agree it is unique policies – as long as they are popular with the voters – that is the only way not to be side-lined by the Greens & UKIP who are both clearly on the rise.

  • @Tom Papworth what you said.

    We operate in a crowded marketplace, especially in the left and populist directions.

    “We CANNOT do this with just community politics. We need to have a clear, coherent identity and a real and unique offer. We need a vision for what the world would look like under a Liberal government – even if we are not pretending that we will get one. And we need a compelling reason why people should choose us.”

    I’d even go so far as to say that the fetishism of local action is part of the problem, because it allowed our opponents to characterise us as ” all things to all men”, “an umbrella name for community action groups” and “face in opposite directions in different areas”.

    All of these things can be justified if you have a clear and well understood vision that ties our localism together. For too many localism was an end in itself.

  • Tom Papworth 11th May ’15 – 10:05am

    “We CANNOT do this with just community politics. We need to have a clear, coherent identity and a real and unique offer. We need a vision for what the world would look like under a Liberal government – even if we are not pretending that we will get one. And we need a compelling reason why people should choose us.”

    +1

  • And please – let’s ditch “Winning Here”, “Working Hard for you all year round” and all the other now meaningless platitudes.

  • I would suggest [again] that Federalism, including the English Regions, is the only major unique policy that has not been claimed by the other parties.

    It is needed to remove the current imbalance of power as a result of the rise of the SNP – which is going to remain a feature for some time to come.

  • I would also suggest that the Party categorically rules out another Scottish Independence Referendum as Cameron has done. Not, like he, for party political advantage – but for reasons of defence.

    It is clear that Putin intends to continue to put pressure on the EU nations through a build up of conventional weapons – an independent Scotland, should it ever show sympathy to the Russian cause [however unlikely] would seriously undermine Britain’s defence advantage of being an island – as was demonstrated in WW2.

  • @John Roffey the Defence argument is a good one; the subject got far too little time in the campaign.

  • Always good to read something written by Duncan Brack.

    As someone who joined the party in 1970, shortly after that terrible General Election result, it is instructive to remember that we rebuilt the party outside of Westminster and the Gilbert and Sullivan excuse for a democracy that our MPs and Peers often get lost.

    As Duncan says –
    “….of most significance, in 1970 the Liberal Assembly passed the famous community politics resolution, committing the party to ‘help organise people in communities to take and use power, to use our political skills to redress grievances, and to represent people at all levels of the political structure’.”

    The ‘Dual Approach’ to politics was adopted , ie to work inside and outside the sclerotic structures of Her Majesty’s Westminster and Whitehall.

    We need to build with others who have a like-minded view on issues of working with the oppressed and the unrepresented both in this corner of Europe and around the World.

    Last week’s liberation from a less than natural incarceration in a Conservative and Unionist Government is a fantastic opportunity which enables us to work again for what we actually believe in at neighbourhood level, regional level and internationally.

  • TCO 11th May ’15 – 10:55am
    @John Roffey the Defence argument is a good one; the subject got far too little time in the campaign.

    … and Federalism? It would give L/D MPs far greater scope to be individuals within their region than they would have in an all powerful central government at Westminster – providing devo-max was introduced and the Party’s policies were kept to broad principles.

    ‘Herding cats’ – has been used to describe the difficulties in getting L/Ds to agree and to act in unison – as has, and no doubt will, be demonstrated in the months ahead as attempts are made to find an agreed way forward!

  • “Working hard for you all the year round” is not a meaningless platitude so long as it is true.

  • Yes, Theakes is right. The number of seats where our vote is not just less than the deposit level of 5%, but 2% or 1% is astounding. The simple fact is that we had nothing new to say and no philosophy behind it. That’s something we need to work on as a matter of urgency.

  • Fro his comments it appears that Tom Papworth has spent too much time reading the Right wing Libertarian views of his pals in the wrongly named “Liberal Vision” and the Conservative Adam Smith Institute.

    He should spend more time mixing and discussing with members of this party than with an organisation that promoted Conservative and UKIP candidates lastvweek.
    Does he really think that the policies of the Tea Party of the USA offer the way forward for Liberal Democrats?

  • matt says
    “The problem with your analysis is a lot of people who voted UKIP do not see themselves as right wing at all. I had to convince my elderly parents who had always voted Labour, not to Vote UKIP in Great Yarmouth.”
    Your parents were right and you wrong. UKIP is absolutely not right wing. I suspect they read or listened to what the UKIP manifesto said, whereas you and many other LD’s just work on hearsay.
    Try reading the UKIP manifesto, instead of making assumptions, and then come back to comment?

  • Categorically ruling out another independence referendum ever over the threat from Putin… really? Even if it’s quite clear the Scottish people want one? Should we be planning to copy Putin and twin Dundee with Grozny? I’d have thought Westminster would have learnt their lesson from Ireland.

  • John Dunn
    Which UKIP manifesto are you making reference to? The one which Mr Farage said was “complete drivel” or another one?
    For those of us who are not members of UKIP it is difficult to keep up with a party that has a different policy at the end of a sentence from the one it was proposing at the beginning of the sentence .
    I watched an interesting intervieweon The Daily Politics with your spokesperson on immigration who had a completely different policy on a cap on numbers of immigrants from the policy put forward the day before by Mr Farage. By the time another manifesto was published a few days later it was different again.
    Is it that you are not too bothered about the fine detail just so long as the dog whistles are loud and clear?

  • Nice try John Tilley.
    The UKIP manifesto presented for this 2015 election is the *must read* policy document. It’s a brilliant read, and a credit to Suzanne Evans.
    http://www.ukip.org/manifesto2015
    If you find any UKIP policy which is unreasonable, please feel free to open a real debate, instead of the usual false miss-representations.?

  • When I was looking at history 1950 seemed a parallel when we won 9 MPs received 2,621,487 votes (9.1%). On Thursday we elected 8 MPs and received 2,415,888 votes (7.9%). In 1950 we stood in 475 of the 625 seats. Maybe it is best to look at 1970. In 1997 when Labour won the general election we won 26 more seats than in 1992, so it might be possible to do it in 2020, which would give us a good base to move forward from. The recovery doesn’t have to take 35 years (from 1970 to 2005, 26 years from 1979 to 2005, or 17 years from 1988).

    @ RC

    The 34.3% is nearly just our core vote. However in my constituency more people voted for us in the local elections than in the general election and about a third of the wards were not having local elections. I have read on LDV that there are other constituencies where this happened.

    It is wrong to see all of the 11.0% that left us and voted for UKIP as right wing voters. Some of course might know that UKIP has libertarian policies, but maybe the majority were protest voters not wanting to vote for a party of government.

    I think it is wrong to decide which section of voters you wish to appeal to and then change your policies to appeal to them. This is what the leadership tried to do and this election is the proof that it didn’t work as a strategy.

    @ Tom Papworth

    I think we already have a clear idea that we wish to create a liberal society, where people are not so poor that their freedoms and choices are restricted, where powerful groups are firmly controlled so they can’t dominate and exploit people, where everyone can live in their own home, where everyone who needs help and support to be active citizens are given this help and support, where everyone who wishes to work can work and those who don’t work are respected and supported and provided with enough resources so that they can be equal members of society, and where there are not huge inequalities as now.

  • Bill le Breton 11th May '15 - 6:56pm

    We are social animals who operate in communities.

    This is a community, here in the virtual world of LDV.

    Community politics refers not to geographical communities alone but to all kinds of communities. It is through communities that power is filtered, manipulated, controlled, and most importantly in some communities exercised by individuals with respect to fellows members of those communities.

    This latter example does not come without effort and co-ordination and leadership – it is the building up of those opportunities, skills and ideas that underpins liberty, allows people to fulfill their potential, increases the life chances of its members without limiting those of fellow members.

    It is really a very interesting concept which has I fear been weaponized by those who, misunderstanding the commitment to it by others, wished ultimately to diminish our liberalising contribution to communities.

    People like it when they contribute to this process of taking and using power in their communities. Because they like the environment of the freedom to realise greater capabilities that it brings.

    The Party of 2007 – 2015 has been an enemy of this opportunity enhancing process. That is why, for me it has not been a Liberal Party but an Illiberal Party. It is why it was so easy to get it to support policies like the Bedroom Tax.

    No one who understands the needs for communities to help their members take and use power within those communities could possibly have condoned for one minute such a policy that destroys another’s ability to achieve their potential.

  • @Bill Le Bretton do you propose handing over power to self-styled “Community leaders”?

  • Phil Beesley 11th May '15 - 8:01pm

    I appreciate that tracking parliamentary events may not be Duncan Brack’s concern. But when did UK society change — personal rights stuff — without a liberal party push?

  • paul barker 11th May '15 - 8:27pm

    1970 does look like the closest parallel & within a decade we came close to “Breaking The Mould” of British Politics. If anything, the rate of Political change has increased since then.

  • John Dunn 11th May ’15 – 3:59pm
    Is that the Suzanne Evans that Mr Farage announced as “pro tem” leader of UKIP on Sunday when he resigned?
    Or is it the Suzanne Evans that must now be the Ex Pro Tem Leader of UKIP when Mr Farage made the fastest come-back of any leader in British Political History?

    Will you be the leader of UKIP tomorrow if Mr Farage changes his mind for the third time in three days?
    Or will it be someone from the Trumpton Branch?

  • David Howarth 11th May '15 - 9:37pm

    One difference between 1970 and now is the massive advance in communications technology. I think that means that we can attempt something thought near impossible in 1970, namely community politics on a national scale. We can come together to campaign on national issues we care about – the snoopers’ charter, human rights, benefits cuts and Europe all come immediately to mind – co-ordinating activity outside and inside parliament.

    I gather parliamentarians weren’t very keen on the idea of the dual approach in 1970, but surely that’s different now. We have a number of really good community campaigners in both Houses – including both leadership contenders.

    Something to guard against, however: as Duncan mentions, the essence of the dual approach was that the party was committing itself to becoming the instrument of social and political change – specifically to the empowerment of citizens – and no longer to act merely as an electoral machine. A couple of decades later, however, in too many places community politics had degenerated into an electoral tactic and we faced a problem in distinguishing between community empowerment and populism. Let’s try to avoid those traps this time.

  • I agree that community politics has to be part of the strategy – we have to get people used to voting Lib Dem again, even if our message is sometimes locally populist (I am not bothered about that so long as we do not abnegate core values, by racist campaigning for example). And always remember that localism is enshrined in the preamble; it is part of our philosophy to back local people even if they want different things in different places

    But we should remember we are not the only players in this game now.. The Greens have 66,000 members and have taken over from us in areas of traditional strength like Leeds W (where we got big votes without a campaign in 2010, but now next to nothing) and Sheffield Central (were we almost won in 2010!). Meanwhile UKIP pick up big votes anywhere they stand. We need to think hard about where to build again from nowhere, and frankly trying to fight the Greens where they already have a strong base and we have nothing will not be easy. But the Greens are now a party of idealogues who do not seek consensus, and that makes it hard for them in local government.

  • Steve Comer 12th May '15 - 1:15am

    Andrew: “….the Greens are now a party of idealogues who do not seek consensus, and that makes it hard for them in local government.” As was shown in Brighton. However the problem for those in areas where the Green Party are gaining strength is that in the short term at least they seem to be made of teflon. In Bristol one of their leading Councillors bought a house from the Council whilst being Cabinet member for Housing, completely against his own party policy, yet was returned with an increased majority.

    One of our members telephone canvassing in Bristol West at the time of the second Natalie Bennett ‘car crash’ interview with Nick Fererri on LBC reported many voters expressing sympathy for the ‘poor woman!’ If it had been Clegg or Milliband they’d hgave been pilloried. The Green Party are enjoying a bit of a political honeymoon period with their yuppie and student backers who want to ‘send a message,’ rather than achieve anything in their communities. There increased vote may be their undoing as their policies get more scrutiny as with Ukip.

  • Smaller parties are often squeezed, those in the middle of the road get run over.
    I’n not on here much – spending my time recruiting ready for voting for the new leader. We’ve added over 6000 so far.
    Let’s hope many of our old friends are back soon – we need them with us!

  • Bill le Breton 12th May '15 - 8:29am

    @TCO 11th May ’15 – 7:18pm
    “Bill Le Bretton do you propose handing over power to self-styled “Community leaders”?

    That question just confirms that you are the victim of the weaponisation of the theory and practice of Community Politics or that you are using it as a weapon.

    You can deprive people of power but you cannot ‘handed it over’ to anyone. You CAN help people take and use their power in their communities. A “self styled ‘Community Leader’ is someone who misappropriates the power of others eg Lammy (who was actually found out in the ‘riots’). That is why such people and politicians create and sustain their monopolisation of the power of others by creating dependents.

    Why not down load the booklet by Gordon Lishman and Bernard Greaves and read it. 30 odd pages – don’t be put off by the 70s artwork. You might be inspired. You might find yourself freer.

  • David Howarth as ever talks sense —

    David Howarth 11th May ’15 – 9:37pm
    “…. the essence of the dual approach was that the party was committing itself to becoming the instrument of social and political change – specifically to the empowerment of citizens – and no longer to act merely as an electoral machine. ”

    And yes – parliamentarians weren’t very keen on the idea of the dual approach in 1970. Nor for some years after.
    I am not sure that all of our 8 MPs even understand it now although they may have mouthed approval.
    The encouragement of elected Mayors and Northern Power Houses by the last DPM seemed to demonstrate a complete ignorance of the concept of working with people to take and use power.

  • Bill le Breton 12th May '15 - 8:36am

    Andrew, the practice of community politics is not populism – nor is the adoption by other parties of certain techniques the practice of community politics.

    As I explained above, it is the exact opposite , because what you are describing is something that makes people dependent on their (for example) councillor. The councillor that keeps insider information to themselves is misappropriating the power that could and should be exercised by people in their communities.

  • Update: 8000 new members now.

  • grahame lamb 12th May '15 - 9:59am

    May I suggest that we should start at the very beginning (who originally said “A very good place to start”).

    There seems to be a consensus that there are two main strands in Liberal philosophy: classical (aka economic) and social.
    We accommodate both in the modern Liberal Democratic party. But where should the centre of gravity be?

  • Labour report 20,000 new members. Haven’t heard from the Greens yet but will post.

  • SIMON BANKS 12th May '15 - 4:16pm

    Interesting comparison. I’ll stick to 1970 and 2010 as the rest of the discussion is pursuing very similar themes through a dozen posts on LDV.

    The wider range and spread of seats we hold now is a threat as well as a strength. The Liberal Party survived its lowest ebb in the 1950s because it had areas of very resilient strength, in Devon and Cornwall, Mid Wales and rural Scotland, plus to a lesser extend the Pennine small towns. When the revival of the 1960s ended, we survived thanks to these bastions. Even if we didn’t have the MP, we could count on 40% or so of the vote and could build on that. Nothing like that exists today except perhaps in Ceredigion and Orkney/Shetland. We can expand easier, but vanish easier too.

    In 1970 as you say the party had a very patchy presence, though wider than when the party previously had so few MPs, in 1959. In the early and mid 1970s, though, a terrific effort was made to fill the gaps and make the Liberal Party a truly national party – and by and large it succeeded. One of the most depressing things about the last five years has been seeing that process in reverse as we fought fewer and fewer council seats and many constituencies became virtually derelict, concealed by mergers. The strategic seats strategy was perfectly understandable but now the election is over and the strategy failed, we have to give high priority to stopping the party disappearing across much of the country.

    Finally, in 1970 very few voters knew anything about the Liberals except that Jeremy Thorpe led them and their MPs would fit in one taxi. In 2015 they know a lot more about us but have no more idea what we stand for.

  • I would echo the point that left / right is increasingly meaningless for most people – they don’t think that I am 4.5 on a left/right scale. Obviously also the traditional Labour and traditional Conservative vote has also been breaking down.

    Labour and the Lib Dems faced an attack on their left flank from people voting Green. I met quite a lot of people who said I understand the tactical argument but I am still going to vote Green. And I would guess that there is a good 5%-20% in a large number of Lib Dem constituencies. It would be wrong, I think to see these as massively concerned about green issues. But obv. younger 25-40 and hacked off with the coalition – plus of course Labour voters who wouldn’t vote tactically for us this time.

    I actually liked our national campaign but looking back it was too much one side is right, the other left we are in the middle and that is probably meaningless except for nerdy politicos like me. It should have been more orientated towards say those earning between £20k-£40k and we have got you things in government – a growing economy with more jobs and apprenticeships with tax cut, pupil premium and better funding for schools and safeguarding NHS – rather than left/right. More on the issues than the mechanics.

    I think a hallmark of community politics and campaigning locally is to find out what people are thinking and then campaign on them – and I am not sure that we did that and presented it as a whole “narrative” / package for the family earning £20k-£40k.

    It is finally easy to exaggerate the results and lessons from FPTP which exaggerates things in itself.

  • Michael 12th May ’15 – 4:43pm
    Many of our formr members are now Green or Labour and working well for those parties. We have to work hard to win them back to another open, honest party – we all know that. But many of our losses are also due to the relentless media who will turn on another party at will – so will surely work next to demolish any non-Tory party in their way. LibDems might come in under the radar – but as we are open we are also being monitored by ‘them’.

  • RC,
    “So, while 32.2% switched to parties of the left, and almost identical number (31.7%) went to parties of the right or far right. Those who seek to blame the coalition for all our troubles and in doing so demanding a swing back to the “true principles” of leftwing liberalism are therefore ignoring a major aspect of last Thursday’s poll: our haemorrhaging of support to the Conservatives and UKIP.!
    RC, all you have demonstrated is that voters have run from liberal candidates in all directions ever since the creation of the coalition. The coalition is the problem, not the policies of the party. The liberal party has ceased to be a distinct entity in its own right and become Cameron’s poodle. Voter have no interest in this. It isnt a question even of left or right or centre. Obviously, a political party which achieves nothing is pointless, but nothing WAS achieved by the coalition except to assist a Conservative government carry out a conservative program. At this election the party stood on a platform of how much had been achieved by it. Well what was achieved, was a conservative government. Who is going to vote for that? Anyone who wants a conservative government might better vote conservative, and anyone not wanting one had better vote for someone else. Which is exactly what happened.

    I have been reading lots of posts on here. Half the people agree with me and some 4.5 million others that this is exactly what has taken place. But a good number of posters her, who I must presume are actually interested in the liberal party or they wouldnt be here at all, still seem to think something great was accomplished in 2010. Whether or not some sort of accord between conservative and liberal could have worked, this one most certainly did not. If there was one element which characterised the liberal party it was independence, and that was the very first thing to go.

  • Robert Pinsker 16th May '15 - 11:19am

    The problem we now have that we didn’t have in 1970 is that voters who want an alternative to the two main parties now have one, or perhaps two, other choices. In previous liberal resurgence so when prospective liberal voters were interviewed on TV as to why they had made this choice they would give the devastating argument “time to give the other lot a chance”. I don’t think we are likely to benefit from that next time around.

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  • User AvatarCJ 13th Nov - 9:57pm
    Martin. To discuss democracy you must first define what it is and then decide whether the concept of a pan European democracy is desirable and...
  • User Avatarfrankie 13th Nov - 9:36pm
    The UK will have to follow the EU's rules ( or so it seems) so we don't really seem to be leaving it David. You...
  • User Avatarmarcstevens 13th Nov - 9:10pm
    Do you think we can refrain from attacking and stereotyping people on the basis of their gender and race on this site? As a liberal...
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 13th Nov - 9:09pm
    Martin I want us to leave the EU which is what I am the majority of the British people voted for. You asked me to...
  • User AvatarMartin 13th Nov - 8:52pm
    David Warren: An EU Parliament more powerful than it is at present would imply a power for the EU beyond the confederation that it really...