Opinion: there are better adjectives for the Labour Party than ‘progressive’

I keep banging on about the fact that there’s a fairly obvious programme in place by the Labour Party to steal our natural positions, both philosophically and in policy (see my article on LDV or my recent blog post). Their latest moves to ‘own’ the term progressive are another case in point.

However, as a branding expert (and a Lib Dem) I do find the news that Ed Miliband is considering rebranding the party he leads as ‘The Progressive Labour Party’ pretty funny – and wrongheaded.

There are essentially three reasons why an organisation rebrands:

  1. Costs savings through economies of scale in bringing multiple brands under one banner (not the case here)
  2. A new brand required because of the merger of two or more existing organizations (hey, we know a bit about that, don’t we).
  3. A failing brand needing to disassociate itself with the past and get consumers to re-evaluate it. Now with Labour, we know it’s not route one or two – so that leaves us with route three. And Labour’s got form here – and quite successful form as well.

Labour first started to rebrand in the run up to the 1987 general election (when the Red Rose first appeared), but they still couldn’t shake off the stigma of the past – let’s not forget there were people rioting on the streets of London in 1990 against Tory policy, 2 years later they still won an election (food for thought and another post there I think).

They needed both to get people to re-evaluate the party and dissociate themselves from the past – and adding ‘New’ to their name got people to do just that. ‘We’re now New Labour, that other lot were Old Labour’.

And, in a branding sense, it worked.

The reason it works is that the added adjective positions the old form of the party in a particular way.

So now calling the party ‘Progressive’ would imply that the old party was the opposite, i.e. Regressive. And given the widening gap between the richest and poorest over the last 13 years, that makes perfect sense…

It’s probably not quite what Ed had in mind though. The fact that he is rebranding at all suggests he thinks he’s got problems getting people to listen to their message.

Anyway, I thought we could probably all help think of appropriate adjectives they’d need to find opposites to if they really want to remove the stain of their current reputation. I’ll start shall I? Spendthrift? Incompetent? Imprudent? Come on folks, lets e-mail Ed with our suggestions. After all, he does think we see Labour as a ‘vehicle for hope’.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

59 Comments

  • Topperfalkon 7th Feb '11 - 3:49pm

    It makes more sense to get one’s own house in order before turning to criticise someone elses.
    Lib Dems are still struggling with popular opinion.

  • A pointless article. Ever heard of pluralism or that old Clegg favourite ‘the new politics’? Although it grows less likely by the day there may come a time when the Lib Dems and Labour need to work together. In fact the AV referendum is one such situation. How about criticising Labour on policy not media tittle tattle.

  • A couple of points..

    “let’s not forget there were people rioting on the streets of London in 1990 against Tory policy, 2 years later they still won an election (food for thought and another post there I think).”

    Mainly because Labour were unelectable, it would be a poor choice of policy if the Lib Dems were to rely on that happening again.

    “I’ll start shall I? Spendthrift? Incompetent? Imprudent? Come on folks, lets e-mail Ed with our suggestions. After all, he does think we see Labour as a ‘vehicle for hope’.”

    This comment probably helps enforce the opinion of many that to the Lib Dems plural politics only extends to the Tories now.

    I am far from being convinced that Milliband will ever create a Labour party I will vote for. But (and it’s a big one) should the Lib Dems criticise attempts by him to learn from past mistakes and move the party closer to a position where consensus will be possible. Anything else commits the party to the Tories or an unlikely total victory. Think about the possible outcomes in Scotland and Wales where working with Labour will be a very real possibility.

    You are afraid, it seems, that Labour moving towards the Lib Dem message will weaken the Lib Dems. Perhaps if Lib Dem Ministers stuck to the message this would not be a problem ? At present it appears to many that Labour will be filling a vacum left by Lib Dems rather than joining them in the centre left.

    Now what do you think about branding the Lib Dems the party of “No more broken promises” again at the next election. I’d be interested to hear you professional opinion as to how that image will play over the next few elections.

  • Wow…

    Again, and again all I see on LDV from Liberal Democrats is Labour trashing, are you really so far from reality that you don’t understand your own position.

    I do understand there is no one else to blame or cast aspersions on, but really isn’t it about time to sort yourselves out, get out of the mess Liberal Democrats are in, really grow up and accept responsibility.

    It is articles like this that I fail to understand, it is not labour who is stealing Liberal Democrats position, Labour do not have to do anything other than watch the self destruction of Liberal Democrats, when Liberal Democrats decided for whatever reason to disregard their own policy position in favour of Conservative policy, Liberal Democrats shifted position, no one stole it, Liberal Democrats discarded it in favour of being in Government.

    The only reputation and brand Liberal Democrats should care about is Liberal Democrats, because at the moment it is Toxic from all the broken promises and pledges, seems like the better way to do politics has failed…

  • Brian Robinson 7th Feb '11 - 4:42pm

    Many of the instincts of the Labour Party — or rather, of those in the Labour Party, which isn’t quite the same thing — are in exactly the right place. But where I think they fell down as a government was in being too authoritarian and too centralising. If I’m right, what was needed wasn’t for them to be more “progressive”, but to be more liberal.

    So, the Liberal Labour Party??

    Now there’s a re-brand that really would be clothes-stealing…

  • Warmongering and authoritarian

  • Grammar Police 7th Feb '11 - 4:53pm

    Oh, someone rattled the Troll cage!

    @ AlexKN “How about criticising Labour on policy not media tittle tattle.”

    Difficult to as they currently only have blank pieces of paper. But you mention the AV referendum. I could criticise the fact that a decent chunk of your parliamentary party, activists and members (and probably supporters) are either so short-sighted, or just plain stupid, that they think that in some way it’s a good way to hit the Lib Dems by campaigning against AV. Well, if you consign the UK to 15 or so years of Tory rule then I’ll know who to blame.

    Now admittedly, Ed is apparently in favour of AV. But couldn’t possibly appear on a platform with “toxic” Clegg (I would point out that in terms of the popularity polls, more people know of and like Clegg than do so for Ed M). Indeed, the suggestion is hugely ironic, I think many in my party would struggle to share a platform with anyone who was in Brown’s cabinet (indeed Ed M has been knocking round in new Labour since the mid-late ’90s).

  • Grammar Police 7th Feb '11 - 4:57pm

    I note the words of all the pro-Labour posters. All I would say is that I hope you’re pushing for the Labour party to learn from the failures of its 13 years in Government. Sadly, at the moment we don’t see any acceptance of the need to change, or even admit mistakes.

  • David Allen 7th Feb '11 - 4:57pm

    Yes, they need to detoxify. So do we. At least they’re trying and have made a start.

  • First thing to say – I’m really not sure about the wisdom of this article. It has a real sense of a bunker mentality about it. One can only wonder what the author thought about the Conservative Party’s rebrand. For what it’s worth, I like the tree logo.

    Brian Robinson – ‘authoritarian and too centralising’

    Yes, but…..

    There has in this, I think, to be a recognition somewhere that being in government carries with it certain difficulties. It can’t all be about talkboard absolutisms. What would a Con-Lib coalition have done in the aftermath of terror attacks? We’ll never know, though I can take a guess from Conservative voting records. This is where I really take issue with the author. Insofar as I can see an argument in here, it seems to be that everything should be pickled in aspic and that brands should not move with events. A strange message for a branding expert!

    Politics can not be about screaming about what others did X years ago – it just looks inward looking at best and at worst as if a party has nothing to say about events.

    As for the Lib Dems, well, I realise that this might not go down too well, but Cleggmania was surely a branding exercise. It demonstrates that once a man becomes the brand, or takes over a brand the public are not often able to disaggregate the two. One can only wonder what effect the Clegg brand will have on the Yes to AV campaign.

  • Depressed Ex Lib Dem 7th Feb '11 - 5:15pm

    Judging from the content of much of the posts here, I’d opt for ‘Toryish Lib Dems’.

  • @Adam Bell
    Please don’t dismiss every critical poster as a Labour troll. Some of us are not Labour and probably never will be but have resigned from/disengaged with the Lib Dems because we cannot tolerate the Tory plans for education, NHS, universities etc and are sick of Lib Dem ministers acting as apologists for what is becoming an increasing ideologically right wing Govt.

  • “Yes, they need to detoxify. So do we. At least they’re trying and have made a start.”

    Hmm. Liberal Democrats believe in Liberal Policies. Go in to Coalition. Some Liberal policies enacted (some not). What is there to detoxify?

  • @Grammer Police

    “Now admittedly, Ed is apparently in favour of AV. But couldn’t possibly appear on a platform with “toxic” Clegg (I would point out that in terms of the popularity polls, more people know of and like Clegg than do so for Ed M). Indeed, the suggestion is hugely ironic, I think many in my party would struggle to share a platform with anyone who was in Brown’s cabinet (indeed Ed M has been knocking round in new Labour since the mid-late ’90s).”

    I think the point made was that Clegg would be toxic to the AV cause that Milliband supports, the press reports also stated that the campaign team accepted this. He also stated he was willing to share with just about any other Lib Dem. Clegg is a toxic brand at present, the dip in his personal approval ratings show that. Also, the consensus seems to be that he is actively disliked more than Milliband. Surely the best campaign strategy is to use your strengths ?

    “I note the words of all the pro-Labour posters. All I would say is that I hope you’re pushing for the Labour party to learn from the failures of its 13 years in Government. Sadly, at the moment we don’t see any acceptance of the need to change, or even admit mistakes.”

    I think there are also posts, such as mine, that are not pro Labour but advocate a supportive approach to shifting Labour policy. Anything less would not be very plural would it?

    @Adam Bell
    Please remember that some of us did vote Lib Dem and would like to be able to do so in the future. I would also like to see Labour move to a position where they could be potential coalition partners of the future. I still do not think it likely that Labour would get my vote but would prefer to have another option than the Tories if coalition is to become more common in the future.

  • Steve Way – one of the things I’ve been most surprised about is how effectively Cameron has neutralised his illiberal wing.* I wish EdM well in doing the same thing with Labour, but I’m not holding my breath.

    * – preempting those who will no doubt comment “most right-wing Government ever”, i suggest you go and read the letters pages in the Tory press. They think Cameron has sold out.

  • Tabman, I agree that is the reality – This government is enacting more liberal policies than either the previous Labour one or the Tory-only one which would have been the result of our refusing to enter coalition.

    But that is not the public impression – largely because of failures in OUR campaigning and media management. Only Labour messages are getting through and we are being tarred with an unfair image of having just let the Tories do what they like.

    Lib Dems must get our house in order in projecting what we are achieving because our brand is currently tarnished.

    Part of that certainly does have to be reassigning the blame for current hardships to where it belongs – the party whose government oversaw the failures that led to the economic crisis.

  • @Tabman
    What is there to detoxify? In short, the association with a mountain of ideologically driven policies, cuts that have political not economic motivation, the slavish human shield activities of so many LD ministers. Sure, we have a few gains. Some have been highly spun and look like amounting to relatively little – pupil premium would be a good example of a good policy implemented in a light version drawing cash from existing budgets. Scrapping ID cards was sensible and there have been some civil liberties gains but outside the university towns and LD suburbs voters are more concerned about cuts to Sure Start, housing benefit, tuition fees, EMA, the growing hospital waiting lists, the assault on libraries, cuts to bus services, child benefit cuts, withdrawal of grants to charities, fuel prices, VAT increase, bank bonuses not to mention ill considered stunts like the cut to Forgemasters’ loan.

  • Eddie Holobert 7th Feb '11 - 6:00pm

    @Tabman: What is there to detoxify?

    Have you looked at the opinion polls lately? Our support has divebombed. As for detoxification, we could start with getting rid of Clegg, stopping the attacks on the sick and disabled, stop letting the bankers take the piss, be louder when we agree with non-liberal Tory policy, instead of going on telly to defend it. We could stop the privit – oops, “reform” of the NHS which the public and most doctors themselves don’t want. We could have worked to stop the scrapping of EMA. I won’t even mention how I feel on the tuition fees issue (which is our Poll Tax, our Iraq moment).

    I have such little faith in our leaders of the party I used to love that, if Cameron wanted to attack Iran, that Clegg and most LDs would support it, even going so far as to call it “progressive”. I (and most people outside this bubble) are so sick with the way this party has behaved that I will probably not vote LD again for a very long time, just like I stopped voting Labour when they were taken over by the Blairites. But it seems that all most LibDems want to do is attack Labour these days, instead of facing up to the reason our support has crumbled. Most LDs just want to stick their whole bodies in the sand. Except for a finger pointing at Labour. We get it, Labour really messed up. I agree with this. But we seem more interested in attacking them than looking in the mirror and seeing how we’re becoming the mini Nasty Party who are stuck on the backs of the Tories.

  • @ Benjamin
    It is not that the message isn’t getting through. It is more that in many areas of the country people just hate the message. However you dress it up or convey you will have the same reaction. I guess it will take a wipe out in Scotland and Wales and the sacrifice of many good LD councillors in England before some of you realise where the party is heading.

  • @Grammer Police
    Sorry to add from the actual piece in the press..

    “Sharkey, a Lib Dem peer appointed by Clegg, masterminded the Lib Dems’ 2010 general election campaign. He appears to see Miliband’s decision as a pragmatic acceptance of polling reality.”

    @Richard Morris
    From your blog…
    “(click the link to see my latest article on Lib Dem Voice and the kicking I’m getting from the Labour Party supporters who read it…)”

    I see anything that varies from your worldview is a kicking from LP supporters. My view is that Labour failed miserably in many areas, they were rightly spanked by the electorate and need to consider their positions on just about everything. they also did some good that would never have been achieved by the Tories in this period. This coalition was the right choice in 2010 but that does not mean it will be so in 2015.

    The Lib dems need to be at least open to the fact that Labour could be the best option after the next election and will almost certainly be a more realistic option in Scotland and Wales than the Tories. They can only encamp on Lib dem positions if the Lib Dems vacate them. Otherwise it will be simple, and effective, to show that that they are the tennant and not the landlord…..

  • @Tabman
    I agree that Cameron has kept the Tebbit faction under control to date. But Goves, Fox and Osbourne in particular have made comments that show they haven’t gone away. Once the dust has settled they will begin to try to influence more and that is my main concern. The heart of the Tories has not changed and I accept that the heart of Labour probably will not. Labour though are a complex beast and my feeling is that the New Labour phase probably only ever had grudging support. I just feel that anyone who believes in a more plural approach should encourage as many parties as possible to be “potential” suiters after the next election.

  • Ed Shepherd 7th Feb '11 - 6:41pm

    One of the problems with this article is that it refers to “the Labour Party” and how it should be described. The problem with that approach is that it seems to me as an outsider that the “Labour Party” is a very complex and wide-ranging spectrum off views. From a near-Thatcherite “New Labour” to large numbers of radical “Old Labour” types plus various shades inbetween. Trying to attach insulting terms to “the Labour Party” risks alienating large numebrs of Labour supporters who support that party because they view it (rightly or wrongly) as a party that gives hope to the the poorer members of society. It strikes me as misguided and shortsighted to deny that there are large numbers of “progressive” people who support the Labour party. I think we are probably seeing the death-throes of the “New Labour” project and the start of a Labour Party with a different emphasis. It strikes me that LD’s would be wise not to fall put with the millions of voters who will vote for the Labour Party in 2015.

  • Benjamin – to a certain extent. But let’s not forget that most of the media has a vested interest in portraying us in the worst possible light (both right and left).

  • Ed Shepherd 7th Feb '11 - 6:45pm

    A Labour Party with new policies that support the rights of low-paid workers might strike many millions of lowly-paid workers as a “vehicle for hope”. I wonder how many low-paid or unemployed workers see the ConDem government as a “vehicle for hope”.

  • “Have you looked at the opinion polls lately? Our support has divebombed.”

    We have shed support from those who regarded us (wrongly) as a party to the left of Labour. There are a larege slew of voters out there to be persuaded to vote for us, not least those who supported New Labour for the liberal parts of its manifesto and are disillusioned with the direction that Milliband and Balls appear to be taking it.

    “As for detoxification, we could start with getting rid of Clegg, ”

    Clegg is the duly elected party leader and should remain so until he resigns. A good friend of mine says that we as a party behave badly towards the leaders we have, and do not deserve them.

    “stopping the attacks on the sick and disabled,”

    This sort of emotive hyperbolae demeans you and does nothing for your argument.

    “stop letting the bankers take the piss”

    Labour put in place a one-off windfall tax as they (rightly) realised that if they extended it for a longer period the revenue raised form it would fall dramatically.

    “be louder when we agree with non-liberal Tory policy, instead of going on telly to defend it.”

    I would hope that we would never agree with non-Liberal Tory policies, and have seen no evidence of it so far.

    “We could stop the privit – oops, “reform” of the NHS which the public and most doctors themselves don’t want.”

    Vested interests are not always the best people to decide what should happen to something.

    I suggest you read the article in this weekend’s Observer. The NHS is a sacred cow and for too many years has been unchallenged. It was set up to treat large-scale infectious disease and industrial injury in large, centralised hospitals. That world has gone, replaced with chronic conditions that often need to be and should be managed outside of such institutions. Ultimately what matters is that the public gets the best treatment at optimal cost and we are far from that.

    “We could have worked to stop the scrapping of EMA.”

    EMA is the wrong policy. It does not do what it is supposed to do and there needs to be a better thought out alternative.

    ” I won’t even mention how I feel on the tuition fees issue (which is our Poll Tax, our Iraq moment).”

    Tuition fees pledges were wrong and I hope the last vestiges of muddle-headed permanent opposition thinking. In government, the choice was between fewer places with lower fees, or more places with higher fees.

    Any profound change causes people to go through a cycle – denial, anger, rejection, acceptance, commitment. We are only at the beginning of this cycle and it will take the full five years of the coalition to reach the end.

  • Where does one begin?

    At 8% in the polls, an electorate who have no clue as to what the Party stands for, a Party who at the Grassroots are lost as to why they still support the aims of a Tory-led Coalition, a media who on the whole mock you, whole sections of the population (like students) who despise you, 2 parts of the Union where even friendly commentators expect you to be wiped out in May, Councillor defections at unprecedented levels, a vote on AV where your Leader is expected to stay clear because he is known to be utterly toxic…who are you to discuss branding of another Party? The Lib Dem branding amounts to “We appear to be an annexe of the Conservative Right”. Where’s your branding?

    Yet more evidence that LDV’s sole aim is to obsess about the Labour Party. Plural politics? Only if you’re Tory

  • “I wonder how many low-paid or unemployed workers see the ConDem government as a “vehicle for hope”.”

    Perhaps the ones who will benefit from the changes to tax allowances and the restructuring of he economy.

  • Anyway, I thought we could probably all help think of appropriate adjectives they’d need to find opposites to if they really want to remove the stain of their current reputation. I’ll start shall I? Spendthrift?

    That suggests that they should rebrand themselves as “Responsible Labour”. But that would mean they would have to find something to say other than denouncing “Tory-led cuts”.

  • @Tabman
    “We have shed support from those who regarded us (wrongly) as a party to the left of Labour. There are a larege slew of voters out there to be persuaded to vote for us, not least those who supported New Labour for the liberal parts of its manifesto and are disillusioned with the direction that Milliband and Balls appear to be taking it.”

    I think there is also a shredding for those who expected left of centre policies not a right of centre coalition.

    “I would hope that we would never agree with non-Liberal Tory policies, and have seen no evidence of it so far.”

    Control Orders lite, reducing housing benefit by 10% for long term unemployed even if they have done everything to find employment to name but two…

  • “I think there is also a shredding for those who expected left of centre policies not a right of centre coalition. ”

    A right of centre coalition was the only thing on offer – its what the electorate and the daft system we have delivered. Also, the party made it pretty clear what the procedure would be if there was no overall winner. That was stuck to. I understand that people are disappointed that a Lib Dem Government wasn’t elected but expecting anything else in the circumstances than what we have is over-optimistic at best (I’m being polite here).

  • @Everyone saying that Clegg is popular or unpopular

    There was some polling done on this recently – check it on UKPollingReport, it’s quite recent. Anyhow, basic upshot – Cameron’s most popular, Clegg’s second, Miliband is third. Quite decisively, not within the margin of error and it seemed reasonably worded at the time (this can make a big difference, for instance compare YouGov’s AV polling with … anybody else’s). Regardless of where the parties are in the polls it is clear that more people like Clegg than Miliband.

    However, to say that Clegg’s brand is toxic is, in a way, true. Clegg was less popular among Labour supporters than Cameron was – which fits in with what I’ve seen of him being made into a hate figure by most Labour people I know personally, even the ones whose views seem basically Lib Dem in all but name. As far as it goes, most Lib Dems and Greens will vote for AV, most Tories will vote against. Labour is the battleground and that is where Clegg’s opinion is at rock bottom.

    Quite frankly, given that people who identify with Labour seem to have a spectacular keeness to ignore their own self interest to upset Clegg I think Miliband’s made the right call if he actually wants AV. Or to be popular in this own party. Incidentally, I’d expect a lot of upset Labour voters to let in loads of Tories by not voting tactically in 2015 if this trend carries on. So, guys, seriously, stop.

  • DunKhan is spot on.

    In May, for the first time ever – I will vote Tory. Why? I live in an area where Tories and Lib Dems fight like siblings, with Labour seen as the Anti-Christ..

    After leaving the Party, I would rather go blue than orange any day of the week.

  • Eddie Holobert 8th Feb '11 - 11:44am

    @Tabman:

    If you think I am being hyperbolic with regards to what I say are “attacks on the sick and disabiled”, you are clearly misinformed. If removing mobility from those in care homes, scrapping DLA, scrapping the ILF, enacting up to 23% social care cuts, 17% cuts in supported housing, taking ESA away from those who have partners in work, continuing to let ATOS make millions from the deeply flawed WCA while they force many disabled people into work, making the unemployed work for free, cutting housing benefit for the unemployed by 10% (leaving them with £43 per week instead of £53) even if they do everything required is “liberal” in your eyes, then I am clearly in the wrong party.

    The LDs are supporting a reduction in worker’s rights, as well. You, sir, seem to only care about being in power and not to care about principles, seeing as how you think it was silly to even pledge to scrap tuition fees. The LD party is now more concerned with attacking Labour (who I also despise) and patting the Tories on the back at every opportunity.

    For me, this is it. The party I’ve loved and supported, campaigned and leafleted for for 15 years is no longer one I can support. I feel how the Labour people felt when Blair et al took over their party. I will continue to post here, but I will not be renewing my membership.

    I simply cannot support a party which supports major cuts to the most vulnerable of people, a party which is reducing workers rights, a party who promises “new politics” but gives us more of the same. A party who has sold its soul for what will be some very short-lived power. A party who lambasted Labour on spin, yet uses the same techniques. Tabman and all the other tribal types will sneer at me, but I’m going elsewhere. I have principles and I actually care about the vulnerable in society. Sadly, the LDs no longer seem to have no sense of social justice and compassion. It’s been fun, guys.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Feb '11 - 4:54pm

    Eddie Holobert

    But it seems that all most LibDems want to do is attack Labour these days, instead of facing up to the reason our support has crumbled.

    It is extremely frustrating to see empty-headed Labour attacks on the Liberal Democrats rather than Labour doing the preparatory work for causing the coalition to collapse and a new left-wing one to arise. But that’s Labour all over for you – they’re not interested in pluralism, therefore they delight in seeing the third party smashed to pieces and they salivate at the prospects of getting all power to themselves again – so they can mess up as they did last time they had it that way.

    You’ll never find a Labour supporter accepting that the logic of Labour’s opposition to proportional representation means Labour’s position is that we SHOULD have a PURELY Conservative government now. But Labour opposes true electoral reform on the grounds that it’s better to have a system which distorts representation in favour of the biggest party thus making coalitions less likely. So, in other words Labour supports the distortion that led to Cameron being Prime Minister now and no alternative coalition being possible, because the distortion also ruled out a Labour-LibDem coalition. If Labour think the LibDems didn’t negotiate a good enough deal with the Conservatives, there’s an easy solution, they can say “Step aside, let us do it” and negotiate one themselves.

    The reality is that the LibDems were forced into the coalition because it was the only viable stable government. The British people by their votes and the electoral system by its distortion of those votes made it that way.

    After that, it was the poor leadership of the Liberal Democrats that played it all badly. From the start the leadership should have said “This is not what we wanted, we agree to Cameron as PM only because that is what you, dear British people, voted for when you voted Conservative or when you voted Labour given Labour’s policy of supporting the distortional representation which made this the only option. So, as Britain must have a government, we will go along with what you voted for. Sorry, if you don’t like it, maybe you ought to have voted in more numbers for us. When you tell us that’s what you’ll do next time, we’ll bring down this coalition and we’ll have arrived at next time”. Instead, the Liberal Democrat leadership played into the hands of the attacks which were bound to come from Labour. Clegg surrounded himself with Tory-inclined ad-men and PR-people who told him to do this, rather than seek the advice of those older and wiser than himself and with a longer record of commitment to our party and with some experience from local government of how hard it is when you are in a balance of power situation.

    So, my advice to dear Liberal Democrat members is that you chose to vote for Clegg and if you are sure you don’t like what you see, you have the power to get rid of him. To anyone contemplating leaving the party, I say “stay in – it is our party, not his – don’t throw away the power you have as a member of the party to bring down the coalition”.

  • Eddie Holobert. Your position of principle before everything else means you have little chance ever of holding power, so, really, what’s the point? You’ll be ideologically pure but you’ll never do anything – much like all those ardent lefty groups I can recall from when i was a student. Anything else involves some degree of compromise and a recognition that as many more people voted Conservative and Labour than voted Liberal Democrat any coalition is going to involve far more of “their” policies being enacted than “our” policies. That’s life, that’s reality.

  • “From the start the leadership should have said “This is not what we wanted, we agree to Cameron as PM only because that is what you, dear British people, voted for when you voted Conservative or when you voted Labour given Labour’s policy of supporting the distortional representation which made this the only option. So, as Britain must have a government, we will go along with what you voted for. Sorry, if you don’t like it, maybe you ought to have voted in more numbers for us. When you tell us that’s what you’ll do next time, we’ll bring down this coalition and we’ll have arrived at next time”. Instead, the Liberal Democrat leadership played into the hands of the attacks which were bound to come from Labour. Clegg surrounded himself with Tory-inclined ad-men and PR-people who told him to do this, rather than seek the advice of those older and wiser than himself and with a longer record of commitment to our party and with some experience from local government of how hard it is when you are in a balance of power situation.”

    matthew – not sure what you’re saying here. From what I can see that’s the line the leadership has played all along – “We came third, we’re not able to get all that we wanted. We said that we would seek to govenr with the largest party post-election in the best interests of the country.” I can’t see how that differs from what you’ve said.

    The issue is that the Tory supporting papers and the Labour supporting other papers and broadcast media have for their own ends distorted everything.

  • Grammar Police 8th Feb '11 - 7:37pm

    @ Olly: “Personally I a can happily vote against this “miserable little compromise” and wait for a real PR option.. ”

    You think a “no” vote for AV won’t just consign the prospect of electoral reform to the dustbin for a generation?

    “If AV is lost you will have nobody to blame but yourselves – you choose your political partners so you will have to live with it. Your Tory friends and their media allies will be doing everything to achieve a No vote but somwhow it will be Labour’s fault if it is defeated. ”

    Yes, we’re a pluralistic party that believe in coalitions, sometimes with people you don’t really agree with on an awful lot. If we would only ever go into coalition with Labour then we might as well just give up and join the Labour party . . .

    The Labour/left troll attacks on here are funny as they’re then coupled with people then saying “Terrible how you’re always attacking Labour” (none so blind as those who won’t see, eh?). Labour MPs, members and party supporters are extremely antagonistic to the Lib Dems at the moment because they saw us as something of an annexe, and they’re shocked to find we’re not. And I’ve had abusive emails from enough Labour party members to prove it, they’re just too stupid to realise we actually know where a decent number of local Labour party members live, so when they send abuse we ignore it. Olly, your comments highlight the small-mindedness of those apparent supporters of electoral reform, who will vote “no” because they believe it damages the Lib Dems – and then you wonder why there is “antagonism” towards Ed M?

    (Also, I’m sorry, but didn’t he recently say he wanted to make us “extinct”? The petulantly say he couldn’t be in coalition with the Lib Dems whilst Clegg was in charge, but back down rather awkwardly later? Personally I’d find a coalition with anyone who was in the previous Labour cabinet rather difficult – I could list a whole stream of awful things the last Labour Govt was responsible for.)

    Unlike David Allen, I really don’t believe the Labour party have made any attempts to “detoxify”. I would encourage Labour supporters to read Alastair Campbell’s diaries, esp the first volume which shows the extent they went to re-fashion themselves into an electable, and at least initially, centrist force – allbeit one with a rather authoritarian approach. Labour are not doing that under Miliband and Balls.

    Ed’s “refusal” to be on this platform is a way of getting out of campaigning for AV, which he apparently supports, and a hard Labour dog-whistle. His position on this is nonsense: recent polls have actually shown Clegg’s popularity is higher than Ed’s – there are more people that like Clegg than Ed, true that there are more people who dislike Clegg than Ed, but there’s just far more people who haven’t a clue who Ed is, and not so many who like or dislike him outside of that.

    Lies, damned lies and statistics, eh.

  • As long as Liberal Democrats keep making excuses and not facing the reality you are doomed, Liberal Democrats lost over 60% of the support you polled at the 2010 election, sitting on 8% is telling you nothing, and I think if the AV vote is lost Liberal democrats will be in dire trouble, 4% – 5% is my guess as those with hope of AV are scuppered.

    And this is before cuts start to really hurt; it is solely down to abandoning your own principles, you lost credibility when you broke faith with those who voted for you, Liberal Democrats have become toxic, not Mr Clegg solely but Liberal Democrats as a whole.

    You can blame who or what you want, but it is not going to change the fact that Liberal Democrats promised one thing and then once in power did another, Liberal Democrats failed in the trust they were given by those who voted for what you PROMISED, now having done that, you want those same voters to vote for a system that will most likely result in more coalitions, to give Liberal Democrats more chance of power, you have to be joking, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I don’t think so…

    I think May is the red line if we have the LE and the referendum; it will be too late if it goes badly for Liberal Democrats, but I get the impression Liberal Democrats are waiting to see, in the hope the polls are wrong and that the AV is a yes

  • Re-branding suggestions –
    Conservative Party – The Cons
    Labour Party – The Leftovers
    Liberal Democrat Party – The Party Formerly Known as Liberal……..and Democratic

    Incidentally I’m not the Chris who posted here on 7th Feb – he probably wouldn’t want to be mistaken for me and I don’t blame him. Like Sarah Palin, my attempt to trademark my name failed as I forgot to sign the form.

  • @Grammer Police
    “If we would only ever go into coalition with Labour then we might as well just give up and join the Labour party”
    Totally agree options should be open (clearly within reason) after each and every election.

    “Yes, we’re a pluralistic party that believe in coalitions, sometimes with people you don’t really agree with on an awful lot. ”
    Like many I believe the coalition to have been the right move at the time but am uncomfortable with the approach to it. Far from showing any disagreement Clegg sems intent on restricting any show of movemant from the “party” line.

    “Also, I’m sorry, but didn’t he recently say he wanted to make us “extinct”? ”
    Actually no, he said he wanted to make the Lib Dems in one seat extinct. Stupid and the wrong approach as i personally believe in positive campaigning but not quite as it has been spun on here several times.

    “Ed’s “refusal” to be on this platform is a way of getting out of campaigning for AV, which he apparently supports, and a hard Labour dog-whistle. His position on this is nonsense: recent polls have actually shown Clegg’s popularity is higher than Ed’s – there are more people that like Clegg than Ed, true that there are more people who dislike Clegg than Ed, but there’s just far more people who haven’t a clue who Ed is, and not so many who like or dislike him outside of that. ”

    Again I believe you are looking at this incorrectly. Milliband is not meant to be appealing to Lib Dem or Tory voters but Labour ones. If his appearing with Clegg on a platform would harm this then the sensible thing to do is avoid it. Read the article this came from and you’ll see that:

    “Sharkey, a Lib Dem peer appointed by Clegg, masterminded the Lib Dems’ 2010 general election campaign. He appears to see Miliband’s decision as a pragmatic acceptance of polling reality.”

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Feb '11 - 1:15pm

    Tabman

    matthew – not sure what you’re saying here. From what I can see that’s the line the leadership has played all along – “We came third, we’re not able to get all that we wanted. We said that we would seek to govenr with the largest party post-election in the best interests of the country.” I can’t see how that differs from what you’ve said.

    No, the leadership has played it completely wrong since the formation of the coalition.

    Anyone who has any experience of balance of power in local government ought to have seen this coming. The pack instinct comes in with Labour, it’s tear away and destroy the weaker one. From the start our leadership ought to have done everything it could to block Labour’s lines of attack. Instead, it has done everything it can to bolster them. Every bloody line from Clegg and the Cleggies seems to have amounted to sticking a label reading “kick me” on the collective bum of the Liberal Democrats.

    The first thing we OUGHT to have done is make it ABSOLUTELY SURE people knew we were going into this coalition not because we thought the Conservatives had the right policies, but because we had no choice due to the balance of power. So we were doing it because that’s what the people voted for, no other reason. Did we do this? Oh no, our leaders made out we were doing this because we thought the Conservatives had all the right answers and we needed to back them up so that we could get swept up in the joyful re-election of them in 2015.

    The second thing we OUGHT to have done is to have made clear our influence was very small, thanks to the electoral system which twisted representation so ruling out an alternative coalition and giving us far fewer MPs relative to the Conservatives than our vote share. This would have helped absolve us from the blame for the right-wing policies that were inevitable. Did we do this? Oh no, our leaders massively exaggerated the influence they have, and continue to pour out propaganda which gives the impression we are achieving huge things in it i.e. that we are equal partners so should get an equal blame for the mess.

    The third thing we OUGHT to have done is make it clear we will listen to the people, and if there is a widespread agreement that they made a mistake in the 2010 election by voting in a Tory-dominated government, we would agree to a premature end to that government to allow the people to act on changing their minds. Did we do this? Oh no, our leaders went on and on about this being a five-year thing and we would back the Conservatives throughout for the whole five years. Thus throwing away the one bargaining tool we have in this situation.

    I could give more, but can you see my point? Calamity Clegg has made mistake after mistake after mistake in handling this situation. Look, I said at the start that I agreed to the formation of the coalition, not because I thought the Tories were right, but because I am a democrat and I believe if the people vote for bad government they should get bad government and I don’t take the Belgian attitude that we can go on without one for months. I just think the way we talked about what we were forced into by the way the people voted and the electoral system twisted it was just so misguided and plain stupid. We ought to have been wise enough to say “Look, this is a bloody mess, but you voted for it, don’t blame us”. Which I think is what I was saying back in May last year and have done so ever since.

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    Agree with much of your analysis however I think there are now deeper issues in play. Over the past few months I think we have seen that a large number of Lib Dems are far more comfortable with the Tories than with Labour as partners in a Coalition. This is replicating what has happened in a number of local councils where the party has become accustomed to going along with Tory policies in return for a smattering of LD demands. The extent to which contributors on this site have prepared to argue in favour of Coalition policies that are out of line with our 2010 manifesto has been surprising and depressing.

    The Lib Dems have changed. Many left leaning members like me have resigned or not renewed membership. Similarly many supporters have gone, not necessarily for good but for the next election and probably the one beyond that. The party is increasingly one of the centre-right. Sooner or later policy making will have to catch up with the leadership and bring in policies more compatible with the Coalition or there needs to be a change of LD leadership. In an increasingly right of centre party the latter is almost impossible.

    AV might save the party from electoral wipe out but whether it will still be worth saving I am not sure. I hate the thought of so much good work and commitment being thrown away but I fear that is what will happen.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Feb '11 - 2:59pm

    AlexKN

    Agree with much of your analysis however I think there are now deeper issues in play. Over the past few months I think we have seen that a large number of Lib Dems are far more comfortable with the Tories than with Labour as partners in a Coalition.

    Oh, that’s rubbish. By “large number” do you mean “a few friends of Nick Clegg”? Part of the problem is that too many people are viewing the party in the way the national press do – as if it’s all about the leader, and actual members of the party are a minor appendage to him and those he surrounds himself with. I have not myself seen any such movement amongst members of the party I know.


    This is replicating what has happened in a number of local councils where the party has become accustomed to going along with Tory policies in return for a smattering of LD demands.

    It depends on local circumstances, but I’m not aware that a Tory-dominated agreement with the LibDems is any more common arrangement in local authorities than any other. What you’ve written sounds to me more like Labour party propaganda than the truth.


    The Lib Dems have changed. Many left leaning members like me have resigned or not renewed membership.

    We are seeing increasing signs of huge unhappiness in the party about Clegg’s leadership. Why resign now? Isn’t now the time to be there fighting with those of us to save our party? It is OUR party, the members’ party, it is NOT Clegg’s party. We should NOT let him push us out.

    It’s been less than a year since the coalition was formed. I don’t think there’s been a big fundamental change in what party members think in that time. There has been a desperate attempt by the Cleggies at the top to try and sell the the way Clegg has led us in the coalition to us, but it’s looking ever more desperate as time goes on and it’s beginning to crack. If anything, I think the coalition situation has shown up the emptiness of the Liberal Democrat right. It seems to me the opportunity for the Liberal Democrat left to take control of the party is now greater than ever.

  • @Matthew Huntbach
    I agree wholeheartedly with you – except I’m not sure about this being an opportunity for the Lib Dem left to wrest back control of the Party.

    Clegg and Co have allowed the Party to be trussed up like a turkey. In the unlikely event of the Lib Dem left forcing an early General Election, we’d be back to Callaghan’s famous remark about turkeys voting for an early Christmas.

    I reckon there’ll just be grassroots protests and resignations – with hopefully some Tory councillors joining their Lib Dem opponents in speaking out against what’s happening (I don’t think they’re all Troglodytes) and after May 2015 we’ll survey the wreckage and work out what can be salvaged.

  • Actually looking at Labour’s 13 years of misrule one could say:
    Authoritarian Labour Party
    Reactionary Labour Party
    The non-progressive Labour Party
    The anything but progressive Labour Party
    The Spin Doctor’s Party
    Lying two faced hypocritical Labour Party
    The militarist Labour Party
    The we imprison children Labour Party

    Where does one stop with these glowing attributes to a Party that is always upholding the values of liberty and freedom – oh sorry wrong party that’s the junior coalition member that Labour so hates and envies for daring to assume office instead of them but which the people unceremoniously chucked out

  • ‘The Lib Dems have changed. Many left leaning members like me have resigned or not renewed membership. Similarly many supporters have gone, not necessarily for good but for the next election and probably the one beyond that. The party is increasingly one of the centre-right. Sooner or later policy making will have to catch up with the leadership and bring in policies more compatible with the Coalition or there needs to be a change of LD leadership. In an increasingly right of centre party the latter is almost impossible.’

    Yes I too do not support the Lib Dems joining coalition with the hated Tories but we do need a lively an active Liberal Party (call it what u will – I was always against changing Liberal to LibDem). Look at Labour and consider the last 13 years and how deeply illiberal they were in office. I did consider throwing my support elsewhere but the Greens are not really liberal but quite authoritarian and Labour is appaulling to any Liberal or libertarian minded person. I do not like the Tories social conservatism and economic liberalism and I do agree that many LibDems do seem increasingly free market & anti-regualtionary in their views. But what is needed is for the Left within the Liberal Democrats to re-take control of the Party (however difficult and challenging that might be in fact to achieve) as if you join Labour from from being a Liberal Democrat you will find yourself going along with views and policies that you will find very painful to stomach – just remember why you joined the Liberals and why why why you couldnt stomach having anything to do with Labour – well here’s some news they haven’t changed as they are still a reactionary right of centre authoritarian we know best for party.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Feb '11 - 7:58am

    Chris

    Clegg and Co have allowed the Party to be trussed up like a turkey. In the unlikely event of the Lib Dem left forcing an early General Election, we’d be back to Callaghan’s famous remark about turkeys voting for an early Christmas.

    The forcing of an election and the removal of Clegg come together. Clegg has so nailed his colours to the coalition lasting the full five years that he’s never going to lead us out of it. But imagine the consequences if the membership of the party forced out Clegg, so bringing down the coalition and forcing a general election. What a demonstration of “people power” that would be. I think it would generate a huge amount of respect for the party, at least if done in a principles “look we tried but it didn’t work” way, and we’d see support flowing back. In addition, by demonstrating we really are a democratic party, that being a member means you can have a big influence on the way our country is run, it would bring a flood of new members.

    It seems to me now this is the only way out of the current situation. Even if it doesn’t bring us a good share of the vote in the general election it leads to in the way I suggest, it leaves us in a place we can build up from. Going into the general election after five years still in the coalition means we go in trussed and will never recover – we’ll be like the National Liberals, another label for the Conservatives in a few constituencies where for historical reasons it is felt the different brand name wins a little more support.

    Keeping the coalition going because we are scared of the loss in support if we force an early general election is silly if it leads to the destruction of the party. It means we buy a couple of years survival at the cost of death after that.

  • Matthew Huntbach

    It would be great if the scenario in your most recent post comes good. But revolutions are usually messy and the outcome unpredictable.

    One thing which can easily be predicted is that a General Election before the date promised by both coalition parties would lead to a loss of confidence in the UK by those pesky international money-men – probably causing a deepening of the financial black hole, even more cuts and unemployment etc etc.

    Neither Conservatives nor Labour would trust us as coalition partners again, and we’d be back to being a party of permanant protest.

    Having made all the errors you’ve so accurately identified, I think the Lib Dems are stuck with the coalition till 2015. Giving the leadership a very hard time at Conference, in the hope of instilling some backbone in their horse-trading with Cameron – is the best we can do in my view. Feeble, I admit.

    I do share your concern that the Party could well end up like the National Liberals of the 1930s – we will need a coherent philosophy and strategy which, (as “Liberal Eye” posted on the thread Back from the Brink – Extraordinary Fall and Rise of the Conservative Party), was conspicuously lacking in May 2010.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Feb '11 - 3:06am

    Chris

    One thing which can easily be predicted is that a General Election before the date promised by both coalition parties would lead to a loss of confidence in the UK by those pesky international money-men – probably causing a deepening of the financial black hole, even more cuts and unemployment etc etc

    Yes, I have supported the foundation of the coalition for his reason, and would not consider bringing it down to be something done lightly. Even though I think we’ve been very badly led in it, I wouldn’t say now it should be brought down. What I am saying is that we should be aware of that option, and be able to use it as a way of strengthening our hand in negotiations, or if it becomes clear that the Brtiish people would support us in forcing a chnage of government. This course of action also needs a Labour Party that is saying something coherent, and that is willimg to work with us – which we don’t have now.

    Neither Conservatives nor Labour would trust us as coalition partners again, and we’d be back to being a party of permanant protest.

    As the present situation shows clearly, it doesn’t work like that – it isn’t a matter of choice. If there’s no majority in Parliament, if Labour and Conservative don’t trust us, the only alternative is to form a coalition with each other. This line about “party of permanent protest” is a poor one because it’s being used by people who are really posing the alternative “party of permanent nothingness”. That is, they want us to be a makeweight which has little purpose except to provide a few ministers in a government dominated by one of the others. That’s the best case. The worst case is those ideological right-wingers who have appeared from nowhere in the past few years and become a presence in our party who have a view for what it is, which is to push for extreme free-market policies. They are grateful the coalition is burning away all us others who had different ideas over what our party was for. I don’t think there’s any future in our party going that way because it’s then just saying “me too” to the current dominant ideology. “Economic Liberalism” IS now what the Conservative Party is for, and Blair made it what the Labour Party was for. What is the point in making it even more what we are for, however much Murdoch and his like urge us to do that?

    I do share your concern that the Party could well end up like the National Liberals of the 1930s – we will need a coherent philosophy and strategy

    The loss of the party’s right-wing with the National Liberals enabled it to build a coherent philosophy, which was critical of the idea that “economic liberalism” was the prime freedom on which all other freedoms depended. Our slogan “freedom from poverty, ignorance and conformity” encapsulated that by making it clear we did not see “freedom” as just lack of state involvement, or freedom to spend money (if you have it, tough if you don’t).

    The tragedy of the 2010 situation is that our country was in a mess due to both parties being fixated on extreme right-wing economic policies – the Tories since 1979, and Labour saying “me too” to them under Blair. 30 years later, we were seeing just how bad these policies were, the economic and social disaster of our country is the long-term consequence of Thatcher’s belief that we could throw away all productive work and instead make a living by selling houses to each other, or being a base where people selling houses to each other in other countries shuffled a bit of their money. Both parties pushed an unsustainable boom based on paper assets, financed in reality by allowing our country to be slowly bought up by the global financial elite. We are now essentially a colony of that elite, they are sucking us dry just as Britain sucked its colonies dry in the time of empire.

    The people of this country, having been taught that politics was Labour v. Conservative, reacted to the long-term disastrous effects of Thatcherism by throwing out the party which had taken them over and was there when all those bad effects were hitting home, and putting in the party whose only real policy was to push them further and deeper in the face of all the evidence they weren’t working andwere just bringing misery to all by the global wealthy super-elite. Because of the need for stable government, we were forced to make a coalition with that party.

    As I have said, I accept the coalition for this necessity and for reasons of democracy – give the people what they voted for even if it isn’t what we’d say is for the best. But I think we should be quite clear to say this, and we are not – we are saying the opposite thanks to the right-wingers at the top of our party who are pushing the idea that this coalition is because of some sort of ideological closeness with Cameron-Conservatives. If our party does not break from that before 2015, I think it is doomed.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 17th Oct - 7:36am
    "The greatest man-made force for peace and progress in human history"?? Matthew, even apart from your non inclusive choice of language, this sort of wildly...
  • User AvatarEd Shepherd 17th Oct - 6:46am
    Large numbers of well-off older people were never highly educated. They grew up in period where there were plentiful permanent jobs,, full-time work, pension schemes,...
  • User AvatarDenis Loretto 17th Oct - 1:04am
    @Martin I am only too well aware of the lack of any viable idea as to a way forward for the Irish border. What I...
  • User AvatarGlenn 17th Oct - 12:58am
    Frankie. I'm just pointing out the irony of these kinds of youth and internationalist orientated arguments . I don't see Brexit a cliff edge. I...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 17th Oct - 12:33am
    Lorenzo is right to remind everyone of the diversity of reasons which caused people to vote Leave, but it follows that there are no easy...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 16th Oct - 11:58pm
    You are right, Martin, I believe - the Irish Border question does not look capable of a ready solution, despite the fact that the finances...