Opinion: The good, the bad and the ugly of the Lib Dems

This week has been something of a mixed bag for the Liberal Democrats. Aside from getting over the fact we have lost one of our most respected and feared heavyweights in Chris Huhne, we have been forced to accept that a serious reassessment of our position within government is required and necessary.

Needless to say, the ceaseless commentariat and Westminster gossips are not helping matters. There have been three stories – all different in topic and angle – that have focused attention on the junior coalition partner in recent days: I shall lovingly refer to them as the good, the bad and the ugly.

First, let’s assess the good. On Wednesday (8th February), Martin Kettle wrote a piece in the Guardian entitled ‘Liberal Democrats can again enjoy the reflection in the mirror’. If you overlook the simple fact that some of us have consistently enjoyed the view reflecting back at us, Kettle’s analysis makes for encouraging reading for any Lib Dem endorser. The article looks optimistically – and realistically – at the Liberal Democrats performance over the last 18 months or so. The recent by-election victories in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Amersham are highlighted. So too are the improving national polling numbers.

Also addressed is the recent impact of the Huhne saga that appears to have forced most pundits to take leave of their senses. Kettle maintains a sane approach in his analysis:

Chris Huhne’s cabinet resignation last week, widely regretted even by those who disliked him, does not inflict the wider damage on the party. That’s not to say Edward Davey is a heavyweight in the way that Huhne almost was. Nor to say that Vince Cable is not now a little more isolated on the Lib Dem left in the cabinet. What it is to say, however, is that the Lib Dems, both in government and more widely, are a more resilient and coherent party than their critics generally allow

Kettle, whilst not directly alluding to such achievements, at least acknowledges the fact that the Lib Dems have performed an outstanding role within the coalition government. The radical-responsible balancing act has worked wonders for Clegg et al and the motto ‘Radical on civil liberties, credible on economy’ must be utilised as often as possible. Yes, mistakes have been made; not least in the communications over tuition fees and the AV referendum defeat. But on the whole, the Liberal Democrats can hold their heads high knowing they have offered and delivered heart to the coalition; the Tories have provided the head.

Inevitably, as is often the case within politics, such positive news is often followed by some bad. Thursday (9th February) witnessed the Independent’s Andrew Grice delivering some sobering food for thought: ‘Boundary changes could leave Lib Dems with 11 seats’.

The Liberal Democrats face a “double whammy” of declining support and boundary changes that could destroy their chances of holding the balance of power after the next election

Grice’s article focuses on the impact of boundary changes; alerting us to the fact that when looking hypothetically at the 2015 election (with current polling and provisional new boundaries taken into account) the Tories would have 293 seats, Labour 273, Lib Dems 11, and others 23. Admittedly, this still implies a hung parliament, but the Lib Dems may not possess all the aces. As Grice points out, this scenario potentially means that “a calamity may become a disaster”. Though hyperbolic, this scenario should act as a stark warning to all of us that it is imperative that we don’t rest on our laurels. Only hard work and brave leadership will see us through these choppy waters.

To many, the ugly referred to in the headline will not be such an unsightly entity. However, to anyone who wishes to avoid internal disputes, the emergence of Liberal Left will be a concern. As we face a difficult few years it must be remembered that Labour suffered greatly in recent years through internal division. Blairites and Brownites openly clashed on policy, and, still to this day, squabble incessantly. The Liberal Democrats must avoid factions forming and forging their own separate identities. We must stay strong and united. Needless to say, there is nothing wrong with innovative ideas and think-tanking. However, statements such as this should concern anyone affiliated with the party:

The group’s launch was greeted with derision by some Liberal Democrats, claiming it was a campaign by people who should be in the Labour party

One of the defining moments of Charles Kennedy’s tenure was his handling of the Orange Book affair. Kennedy managed to merge his own social liberal views with those of the new, modern Orange Bookers. He illustrated beautifully how a leader must approach potential storms and diffuse troubling situations. How Clegg reacts to Liberal Left will be crucial to the Lib Dems future. As the last seven days has once again proved, “a week is a long time in politics”.

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41 Comments

  • Leaving aside our Oxymoronic friends at Liberal Left, surely David Cameron has a bigger anti-coalition problem than we do?

  • Scott – regarding the “ugly” as you put it. Liberal Left is not about fissure, it’s about continuity. As someone who stood for parliament for the party in 2005 I would simply like the policies of Lib Dems in government to bear more resemblance to the manifesto I stood on and the manifesto my friends and colleagues stood on in 2010. That seems like a very small ask.

  • Sid Cumberland 10th Feb '12 - 10:44am

    “Grice’s article focuses on the impact of boundary changes; alerting us to the fact …” – no, not the fact – Grice’s article is based on analysis of the polls by John Curtice, who seems to have made a career out of interpreting polls in an extraordinarily simplistic manner.

  • Sid Cumberland 10th Feb '12 - 10:45am

    Ruth – ‘That seems like a very small ask.’ Yes indeed. All we have to do is eliminate the Tories from government.

  • …………….a tiny range of opinion in the Party…………..
    Perhaps reading the comments in the media (especially ‘our’ guardian) might show that large numbers of those ‘on the left’ are no longer supporting the party.
    Implying ‘Good riddance’ and describing them as “Labour supporters who wouldn’t vote LibDem anyway” (as I’ve read on LDV) will leave the party weaker not stronger. A united but much smaller party is still a ‘much smaller party and, as in other things, ‘size matters’.
    It’s strange that, when our manifesto promised much of what is now described as ‘on the left’, we were told that the LibDems were a ‘broad church’; now there appears to be, “No Room at the Inn”
    As someone who has voted L and LD for more years than I care to remember, I don’t feel I’ve moved away from the party but that ‘it’ has moved away from me.

  • Sid – the Tories can’t be our “get out of jail free card” . Our party’s leadership favoured a draconian approach on welfare eg the abolition of maternity grants (NB also David Laws’ reference in his book to the “wasted lives” of people on benefit) without any pressure from the Tories at all.

  • A couple of points to take exception with

    1. I’ve just re-read the Kettle article and at no stage does it say that we have played an ‘out-standing’ role in the coalition.

    2. “Yes, mistakes have been made; not least in the communications over tuition fees”.
    Depending on how you look at it there were two mistakes made over tuition fees. Either it was a mistake to unequivocaly state opposition to tuition fees in the first place, or it was a mistake to go back on what was promised to the public – take your pick. The mistake wasn’t about communication. Take your head out of the sand. It is Blairite in the extreme to not acknowledge mistakes but just to pass them off as being communication failures as if the public are too stupid to understand why you were right all along.

  • Ruth Bright – ” Liberal Left is not about fissure, it’s about continuity. As someone who stood for parliament for the party in 2005 I would simply like the policies of Lib Dems in government to bear more resemblance to the manifesto I stood on and the manifesto my friends and colleagues stood on in 2010. That seems like a very small ask.”

    Both documents, let us not forget, resoundingly rejected by the electorate – hence the reason why the policies of Lib Dems in Government have to recognise this fact. But, setting that aside, the world has moved on considerably since 2005 – a time when “we” believed that a structural deficit should be run during a boom. Harking back to an earlier time is something you no doubt would believe the Conservatives should have a monopoly on; its not somethign we should be doing in Government.

    Neil Bradbury – “Wheras the Orange book was written by serious politicians, many of them MPs or MEPs” – indeed, one of them being that dangerous right-winger Steve Webb. I find those who use “Orange Book” in the perjorative particularly amusing in this respect.

    Simon – “it was a mistake to unequivocaly state opposition to tuition fees in the first place”. Agreed.

  • Malcolm Todd 10th Feb '12 - 2:04pm

    “it was a mistake to unequivocaly state opposition to tuition fees in the first place”.

    Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. Irrelevant. “I’m sorry but I should never have made that promise” is not a valid excuse for breaking a promise. The promise, having been made, should and could have been kept.

  • LondonLiberal 10th Feb '12 - 2:05pm

    i feel that Liberal Left represents much more of the party’s values than David Laws or Nick Clegg at the moment. And i joined in 1992.

  • “it was a mistake to unequivocaly state opposition to tuition fees in the first place”

    Personally, yes I’d agree with that. But what we’ve actually got looks a lot like a graduate tax to me. A time-limited one, granted, and one that is structured so that graduates can’t simply emigrate to avoid paying it, but it still resembles a graduate tax far more than it resembles fees. No one pays a penny upfront, no one pays a penny after they graduate until they’re earning above a (quite reasonable) threshold. The repayment amounts are graded progressively with income. How is the current system different from the kind of graduate tax that conference voted to explore?

    Maybe there’s something I’m missing but from what I can tell the only thing about what Vince implemented that resembles a tuition fee is the name. Which makes the whole thing a communications disaster, not a policy one.

  • Daniel Henry 10th Feb '12 - 3:49pm

    I wish folk would stop getting all hysterical over the Liberal left group.

    I thought our party prided itself on being a broad church with rational and robust debate on issues.

    The liberal left represent views of many of our activists in the party, and possibly many who have left us since the election.

    So long as the debate is rational and civilised rather than the bitter and damaging battles that Labour had internally then this new group is to be welcomed.

    It will build links and broaden our appeal.

  • “Maybe there’s something I’m missing but from what I can tell the only thing about what Vince implemented that resembles a tuition fee is the name. Which makes the whole thing a communications disaster, not a policy one.”

    Oh for a Madelsonian master of the dark arts of spin.

    Actually – a good philosophical point. Would you rather have a Mandelson or unsophisticated PR?

  • Ruth Bright 10th Feb '12 - 4:38pm

    Tabman – re “harking back”. It appears that even “harking back” to the coalition agreement is too much to hope for these days -no top-down reorganisation of the health service etc .

    Daniel Henry – thanks for your common sense about the tone of this debate. They say compliments come in threes. Scott says I’m part of the “ugly” face of the Lib Dems, Neil says I’m “failed” and “embittered” and my five year old son’s little friend has just told me that I’m a “fat lady”.

    Hmm – I wonder how many more plaudits I can gather from discourteous young males before the day is out?!

  • Dan – you could have given me a hat tip for “oxymoronic” 🙂

  • Robin Martlew 10th Feb '12 - 5:01pm

    I’m intrigued! Who are these Lefties? I think I’m a Meie cos I’m not a Leftie nor a Rightie in fact I have never believed in this straight line analogy. I have always seen Liberals as somewhere in a sherical political atmosphere and I always feel as though I’m sort of orbitting in the stratosphere trying to get down.
    I’d quite like to find these Lefties I could be connected maybe. Mind you they probably wouldn’t want me. I tend to be rather rarified.

  • Daniel Henry 10th Feb '12 - 5:09pm

    Hey Dan
    I caught your blog post a yesterday and wrote a comment in reply. I’ll post it again here:

    “Have to disagree Dan.
    We’re a broad church so it should be natural that some of us prefer Labour while others prefer the Tories. If we exclude everyone from the party who isn’t a “pure” equidistant centrist then we’re going to remain a niché group and rule out the possibility of us EVER gaining the support of the majority of the population.

    They also have some fair points about our manifesto. Our deficit cutting plan wouldn’t have started any major cuts until a year later compared to the coalition. Our speed of deficit reduction was also closely in line with Darling’s plan, so they do have a good reason to claim that economically we’re closer to Labour than the Tories.
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/labour-ed-balls-lib-dems-economy-austerity-spending-cuts-26614.html

    Not saying that they’re right or that we should agree with them, but they’re a legitimate voice within the party that represents the views of some of the membership.

    What’s important is that the dialogue remains constructive, and I think that declaring non-liberals isn’t the best way to start it.off. 🙂

    (btw, totally agree with your criticisms of Byrne but if we believe in pluralism then we have to sometimes work with such people, otherwise we should perhaps drop our support for proportional representation!)”

  • Robin – rather than Judean Peoples’ Popular Front bit of Life of Brian, perhaps it should be a bit more “go away – you’re all Liberals” “Yes, we’re all Liberals!” “I’m not”

  • daft h'a'porth 10th Feb '12 - 6:20pm

    @Catherine
    Yes, you are missing something.

    “No one pays a penny upfront, no one pays a penny after they graduate until…”
    Every time tuition fees are mentioned, someone says this, despite the fact that it is utter cobblers. Go read a few threads on The Student Room,. You will soon find people who are trying to figure out how to scrape up the cash. Their reasons for falling out of student loan eligibility are many and varied – things like: the straightforward ELQ; having undertaken prior training retrospectively redefined as equivalent, not that the student knew at the time that it would result in blocking them from ever going to uni without robbing a bank first; having failed a couple of years for whatever reason; having dropped out during, say, their second year, and then when they decide to pick it up again many years later, discovering that their prior years of study (despite not resulting in a qualification, despite the fact that this may have happened before student loans even existed in the UK) nonetheless mean that the Student Loan Company laugh in their faces when they try to sign up.

    I suppose it’s possible that giving people a second chance is in some sense illiberal, and that it is right and proper that people should be effectively barred from affordable higher education as a result of legalese. Either way, please, once and for all, stop claiming that “no one pays a penny upfront”. An alternative phraseology would be “only those who have exhausted or forfeited their eligibility to a student loan will pay a penny up front”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Feb '12 - 7:41pm

    There has been a concerted effort to push the Liberal Democrats to the right in recent years. It has involved well-funded think-tanks which claim they are “independent” when they have to, but are keen to use the name “liberal” and always seem to be on hand to give quotes to the media about the Liberal Democrats in a way that suggests they have some sort of official status or repreemt mainstream opinion. It has involved those elements of the press whcih normally support the Conservative Party giving praise to anything or anyone in the party which is moving it rightwards, while ignoring or abusing anything or anyone which is holding it still never mind moving it leftwards. It has involved the seizing of the situation provided by the 2010 general election to suggest the coalition was more than just something forced on us by the balance in Parliament.

    Why is it that this organised push to the right has gone with little comment, whereas the smallest attempt to keep the party to the left has involved abuse of those involved, and doom and gloom attacks on “division” in the party? This does not reflect well on the right-wingers. It suggests their commitment to real liberalism isn’t much, because I don’t think a real liberal would show this lack of even-handedness.

  • “Why is it that this organised push to the right has gone with little comment, whereas the smallest attempt to keep the party to the left has involved abuse of those involved, and doom and gloom attacks on “division” in the party? This does not reflect well on the right-wingers. It suggests their commitment to real liberalism isn’t much, because I don’t think a real liberal would show this lack of even-handedness.”

    Matthew, this is a spectacularly one-eyed view of the world. Every day there are howls of protest at the slightest compromise from the true faith on this very site; how those who support the coalition are smashing the party to pieces by allowing it to continue. To invert your comment:

    “”Why is it that this organised lurch to the left has gone with little comment, whereas the smallest attempt to move the party to the right has involved abuse of those involved, and doom and gloom attacks on “division” in the party? This does not reflect well on the left-wingers. It suggests their commitment to real liberalism isn’t much, because I don’t think a real liberal would show this lack of even-handedness.”

  • What’s in a name?

    Neil Bradbury refers to “Orange Bookers” in complimentary terms, while Tabman echoes his views with the comment that “I find those who use “Orange Book” in the perjorative particularly amusing”. The implication seems to be that if you are a right-winger, you may reasonably delight in calling yourself an Orange Booker. But if you are a left-winger, and you dare to call anyone at all an Orange Booker, then you have made a grievous mistake, which is either malevolent or naive, or somehow both of these things at once – oh well, anyway, it sure qualifies you to get righteously pilloried. Hatchet job done!

    Slanging “Liberal Left”, on the other hand, seems to be an obligatory knee-jerk response for many posters. Daniel Henry, who dares to speak about tolerance to civilised differences of opinion, appears to be almost a lone voice. I have to pinch myself. What is our name, exactly? Did I recollect the word “liberal” in there somewhere? Or am I just hopelessly old-fashioned and out of touch with our brave new modernised party?

    The view seems to be that, if you express any doubts about our Dear Leader’s decision to ally himself with our historic enemies, then you have put yourself beyond the pale. We don’t want you contaminating our Focuses by touching them on the way to the letterbox. You would be best driven out. That way, we can surround ourselves with yes men, who will chant loudly of our great triumphs, shield our leader from the anger of the populace, and keep our morale high as the enemy reload their cannons. Hurrah for the yellow Blues!

  • Cllr Nick Cotter 11th Feb '12 - 10:01am

    A very interesting debate going on here…………
    Apart from a few “throw-away” and probably ill-thought out/rushed comments…… all good, and plenty of food for thought !! Frankly no point beating ourselves up over all of this is there ?!
    I for one never “in a million years” saw us in a coalition with the Tories, but let’s be honest – this was the only game in town ?! What was the alternative, walk away from this once in many-a-generation opportunity to actually have “some” influence on the political life and direction of this island of our’s or frankly walk in to oblivion in 2010 ??
    Like Gareth Epps I probably won’t join this new grouping, the SLF is more in tune with my positive agenda for the party, but that does not mean that I do not empathise with or indeed support much of what the Liberal Left group stand for. Let’s be honest we are a small party, with very few friends in the media,and an electorate that is still wedded to the Red vs Blues “tag team contest”. I fall in to the cup half full rather than cup half empty faction of the party – let’s stop navel-gazing, and actually get out there on the doorsteps selling our message – one of which is perhaps : would you (have) preferred a majority Tory government or one where the Lib Dems can constrain the Tory headbangers of the Right ?
    Onwards and Upwards is THE only way to go !!
    And as my late GP Grandfather communicated to me with a wooden plaque I Inherited- illustrated with a laughing clown on it : “Don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out of it alive anyhow”
    See some of you at the South Central Lib Dem Conf in H.Wycombe on 25th Feb.
    Cllr. Nick Cotter, Bicester Oxon (Council : 13 Tory, 1 Labour, 1 LibDem – Me) !

  • Daisy Cooper 11th Feb '12 - 10:36am

    I don’t think it is at all inevitable that the launch of Liberal Left will lead to internal factions. Personally, I think this ‘wing’ has the potential to reach out to those members that have left the party (or might still leave) because of the coalition with the Tories and/or because of particular coalition decisions. It’s a real shame that others have ‘welcomed this with derision’. Whilst I’m more of a pluralist, happy to work with any and all parties, and more in tune with the Social Liberal Forum (not anti-coalition, but wanting greater social justice measure in govt), I have a certain sympathy with LL’s objectives, can see myself attending some of their debates, and am inclined to welcome it into our broad yellow church. I hope others will do the same – if only in the spirit of maintaining our badge of honour as the only internally democratic party. 

  • David Allen – you’ve done an excellent job, once again, of slicing up your straw man. Jolly good.

    Regarding the Orange Book – it’s used as a perjorative term by those on the “left” (ie the non-market-liberal wing) of the party for anyone who believes in all forms of Liberalism, ie the “right”. However, most of those who think that the Orange Book is some sort of right-wing handbook have clearly never read it, given that at least three of its chapters (those by Messrs Huhne, Cable and Webb) are written by idols of the “left”.

    Hence, “Orange Booker” is lazy short hand for those viewed by the “left” as “sell-out”, “right-wing”, and who’ve “stolen our party”.

    I’ve long favoured the view that there are pragmatists and idealists in the party; the pragmatists are getting on with the job of compromising and making our sojourn into government work, by actually doing something useful and constructive – namely getting Liberal policies enacted and re-learning the lost arts of governing.

    Meanwhile, the likes of Liberal Left have retired in a huff to carp from the sidelines because they’re not getting their way in totality.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Feb '12 - 4:41pm

    Tabman

    Matthew, this is a spectacularly one-eyed view of the world. Every day there are howls of protest at the slightest compromise from the true faith on this very site; how those who support the coalition are smashing the party to pieces by allowing it to continue.

    There is? How much of it is from active members of the party? In my experience the “you lot have betrayed all you stood for” posts tend to come from people who have voted for us in the past (or claim to have done so), but not active members. The number of active members who have expressed vocal opposition to the coalition is small. That surely is the most remarkable thing – outright opposition to the coalition from activists was almost non-existent at the start, and is very much a minority even now. Instead, there seems to be a quite dropping-off of membership. What has surprised me is that the drop-outs are often people who were loyalists earler on, whereas those of us who expressed our dislike early on have had more staying power. Maybe it’s easier to say “I told you say” than “I was wrong”.

    Actually, I think most active members can see the dilemma the party was in following the 2010 general election, and can accept the reality of the very much the junior partner in the coalition means silence on a lot we are not happy with in order to win a few concessions where we think we can. It’s disappointing to find this common-sense practical viewpoint seems to exist almost entirely wthin the party – outside to our left it’s all “you lot are traitors” and to the right “you lot are loony lefties who should just shut up and support the Conservatives now you’re in coalition with us”.

    It may be a commonplace view outside the party, but I don’t know anyone in the party who seriously argues we could get 100% of our manifesto implemented in the current situation. The silly line about us having 75% implemented when obviously this is a government very far from what we put forward in the election is someting else.

    Those of us who are to the left of the party are going to find it harder to swallow the compomises than those to the right, even wif we agree they are necessary because we are not in a situation where we can get any more. What makes it worse is the arrogant behaviour of many on the right towards those on the left about this, instead of the courtesy of accepting we are finding it harder and thankfulness that we haven’t revolted yet.

    By the way, I don’t regard Huhne, Cable or Webb as “idols”. What a ridiculous suggestion of yours. They are people a bit more towards my political view than Clegg, Laws and Browne, but that’s all.

  • People often forget that political parties don’t just represent their members, but their voters too. The Liberal Democrats had a very deliberate strategy before May 2010 of appealing to floating left wing voters disillusioned with Labour. Perhaps the Liberal Left intends to give this substantial voting bloc a reason to vote Lib Dem again, because at 9% in the polls, down from 23% or so, suggests that currently they do not. I’m sure nothing pleases Labour more than seeing Lib Dems hounding anyone who deviates from supporting the Coalition.

  • David Allen 11th Feb '12 - 6:00pm

    Tabman,

    “Orange Booker” is lazy short hand for those viewed by the “left” as “sell-out”, “right-wing”, and who’ve “stolen our party”.

    Well, it’s shorthand, that’s true. We all need shorthand. I don’t quite know what might differentiate “lazy” from “appropriate” shorthand. What shorthand would you like to be used? (Hint, whilst it doesn’t have to sound abusive – I don’t think “Orange Booker” does – it mustn’t sound approving, or of course it won’t be suitable for use by those who disagree with that standpoint.)

  • Davdi Allen – “Well, it’s shorthand, that’s true. We all need shorthand. I don’t quite know what might differentiate “lazy” from “appropriate” shorthand. What shorthand would you like to be used? ”

    OK – let me spell it out clearly this time. It’s “lazy” because its innacurate. The Orange Book is not a “right wing” book. Several of the articles in it were written by people who are on the left of the party. Surely I’ve spelt it out clearly enough, now?

    The. Orange. Book. Is. Not. Right. Wing. People. Who. Agree. With. It. Are. Not. Right. Wing.

    There is the distinct whiff of sour grapes around.

  • Matthew Huntbach – ” What makes it worse is the arrogant behaviour of many on the right towards those on the left about this, instead of the courtesy of accepting we are finding it harder and thankfulness that we haven’t revolted yet.”

    It’s not arrogance, it’s frustration. Frustration that through all the years of flirting with Labour there was never the same sort of reaction from those who disagreed with that stance that we are now seeing in reverse; double frustration given the position that for the first time since the 1920s we are actually part of the government actually doing something for a change, in stead of standing in perpetual, impotent opposition. Frustration that there is so much negativity rather than a positive “lets get on with it” attitude.

  • Tabman – and a little history here (which I know you know), what happened in the 20s and 30s? Yes, the Liberals were smashed to smithereens. Attempts to move the party to the right have been doomed to failure in terms of party stability and electoral success. You may have an example demonstrating this to be untrue, but I doubt it.

  • And Chris Huhne is not widely thought to be on the left of the party (media coverage at the time of the Leadership election suggested his politics to be similar to NC’s). Chris may be more combative than Nick, but that’s a different story. Vince Cable may be reasonably left on a variety of issues, but his economics are far from the left. He wouldn’t have ended up in Cabinet in a sensitive economic post had he been left economically. Steve Webb, I accept, is of the left.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Feb '12 - 11:58pm

    Tabman

    It’s not arrogance, it’s frustration. Frustration that through all the years of flirting with Labour there was never the same sort of reaction from those who disagreed with that stance that we are now seeing in reverse

    Rubbish – many of us were very vocal in our opposition to the “project” of what was then the right-wing of the Liberal Democrats to “realign the left” i.e. merge with the appalling Blairites under the impression that they were somehow close to us.

    double frustration given the position that for the first time since the 1920s we are actually part of the government actually doing something for a change, in stead of standing in perpetual, impotent opposition.

    To the electorate this comes across as “they will do anything to get power”. Indeed, if by “doing something” you mean saying “we agree” with the Tories, they are right, and note by “in power” here they mean “holding a few government posts” rather than actually exerting mcuh real power over the government.

    Frustration that there is so much negativity rather than a positive “lets get on with it” attitude.

    My frustration comes about from the fact that large parts of the electorate DO see it as in my paragraph above. I don’t see it that way myself, I have consistently argued that the May 2010 general election meant the only realistic option was to form the coalition we have. However, what is damaging us is the smugness some seem to have about it, which allows the “sold out” line to work. If we were more honest in saying the current coalition is very far from our ideal, we really are only in it because the electorate and the electoral system made it the only option, we would better be able to maintain our vision for the future. If the party leadership through its dual role as paid members of the government cannot say this, others in the party have to say it.

    Sorry, but the line you’re taking means we may have a minor role in government for the first time since the 1920s, but it will also be the last time. I’ve not worked for over 30 years for this party and given it thousands of pounds of my money just for it to have a few years where it has been able to make the odd tweak to a Tory government’s policies. You may be content with that, if so you’re either a Tory or very easily satisfied.

  • Tim 13 – the party was “smashed to smiterheens” due to personality differences between Lloyd George and Asquith, and then finished off by allowing Labour into government, who had the intention of killing us off.

  • http://www.markpack.org.uk/4767/hung-parliaments/

    “MacDonald had clear, long-term strategic aims: keep the Liberals out of power and further strengthen Labour relative to the Liberals. Whilst Labour pursued its long term vision of replacing Liberals, Liberal MPs were rather shocked to discover that Labour didn’t cooperate in Parliament and, in the constituencies, was gunning for their votes and seats. This included running candidates in many seats where they would split the anti-Conservative vote and so let the Conservatives gain the seats from Liberals. For Labour, the short-term pain of strengthening the Conservatives was worth it for the long-term gain of making British politics be about two parties, with the Liberals not one of the two.”

    We’ve had history as tragedy. Lets not make the space for it to be repeated as farce.

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    Manfarang 9th Jul '20 - 8:31am........................Yes indeed. There was no way of borrowing this country out of austerity following the fallout from the 2008 financial...
  • User AvatarJohn Littler 10th Jul - 6:29pm
    Yes, legalise, regulate and tax it. There is no case for doing it any differently. The case for banning the unbanable is usually based on...
  • User AvatarJohn Littler 10th Jul - 6:20pm
    I was not expecting to see Lancashire folk band from the 70's, the Houghton Weavers link on LibDem voice (Lloyd George) When marxist regimes get...
  • User AvatarJLittler 10th Jul - 6:06pm
    When Clegg took the big FB job, he was perfectly entitled to do the best for him and his family and it was not up...