Opinion: We shouldn’t position ourselves as the ‘Middle of the Road’ Party

 

I am hesitant to write another article for LDV so soon after my last one on polling, but with the General Election so close now, I am going to put my head above the parapet on the matter of the Party’s seeming decision to steer us right down the middle.

Having looked at the Lib Dem Manifesto in some detail when recently writing some articles for the LDCF, I was surprised to see how many progressive and innovative policies there really are in there. I am worried though, that if we keep saying we ‘Won’t spend as much as Labour or cut as much as the Tories’, we will simply become more and more ‘invisible’. The whole ‘Look Right, Look Left and Cross’ thing also seems to present the same image of the Liberal Democrats as standing for nothing in particular – and certainly nothing to get excited about.

I know we will continue to push our line that the Lib Dems will, at least, be a safer pair of hands than either the Salmond or Farage option in the inevitable Coalition government that’s coming – which is quite true – but it’s not exactly an ambitious or confident vision.

Obviously we must keep talking about what people are really concerned about: proper funding of the NHS including mental health services for young people; creating real manufacturing jobs to boost the economy – not low-paid dead-end jobs; a diversity of housing options to meet people’s needs and an education system that will give young people an equal chance and the skills they need to find employment – all policies in our Manifesto.

But we also need to talk more about distinctive Lib Dem policies such as our ‘Help to Rent’ scheme, providing loans for young people who want to rent a property, but cannot afford the deposit – a problem I came across many times when doing housing casework for single people and young families in inner London. We also need to somehow tackle the exorbitant rents in the South East which are pricing people out of access to housing.

Our planned Nature Act, to protect the UK’s wildlife, green spaces and plant species and to reduce waste, is also just one of a really impressive package of measures we have put forward on the environment – absolutely worthy of the Green Party!

Creating an ambassador-level Champion for Freedom of Belief, to try to put an end to the persecution of people worldwide on the grounds of their faith, is another Lib Dem policy in the Manifesto which reflects our values on freedom of speech and association.

Our plans to cap big party donations, which currently buy so much influence, and to prohibit MPs from taking paid lobbying work, are also worth talking about – as are our policies on improving transport infrastructure, including plans for an East -West rail network and shifting more freight from road to rail – also all in our Manifesto.

Let’s not simply position ourselves equidistant between the Tories and Labour, but out in front, a Party whose ideas are worth voting for. That’s why people used to vote Lib Dem.

* Until recently, Judy Abel was Head of Health Policy at Policy Connect.

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167 Comments

  • Rob Gilliam 27th Apr '15 - 9:33am

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    As soon as the campaign started in earnest I saw the “Look Left, Look Right, Then Cross” approach and thought we were seriously selling ourselves short.

    We’re are not, and should not present ourselves as, the “party that you vote for if you find the other parties too extreme”; we have other, different, better ideas to the other parties and we should be campaining on what people would be voting for (5 green laws, improved border checks, building more houses, etc.) and not what they would be voting against, i.e. reckless cuts or borrowing (not least because we recognise that there will still need to be cuts and we’ll still need to borrow in the short term).

  • I think this would be a useful discussion after the general election as everything has now been set for this one. It is useful however to remind everyone how progressive party policy is on many issues.
    I would hope we would not have to compare ourselves with the Green party to decide how good our Green policies are. No disrespect to them, but we have always tried to have the best environmental policies and I would hope other parties would want their policies to be as good as ours. That said, we have made compromises in government and our long cherished “Green Growth” has probably never been that well thought out. Many LD MPs argue in favour of Gatwick airport expansion which is more about growth than being green.

  • To be honest I’m really struggling as is my family to trust any political party in the three main group Liberal would have been my choice in 2010 because of the promises, labour was not even in my thoughts, and I’ve never voted Tory or will never do so.

    Trust is hard to find and when found it seem hard to keep, and I no longer trust any politician of all the three main parties.

    It’s about trust I think the voting public have lost faith with all three main parties and my worry is once you head back into a coalition you will just sell out again.

    So I’ve decided not to vote for any of you lot, we need change we need a change in direction and we need to show our disgust at all of the parties who were the big three for not seeing the mess with banking and not doing sod all about it.

    But once you went into a coalition you became the Tories.

  • Samuel Griffiths 27th Apr '15 - 10:13am

    I actually originally voted LibDem because I found them more extreme than the other parties. If the party is now trying to head in a way that doesn’t talk about substantial reform and dramatic change then it’s no surprise so many of it’s supporters have gone seeking help elsewhere. The article is good, but Geoffrey Payne is quite correct in that this is a discussion for later. This election will be fought on the LibDems legacy of government and no amount of redirecting can change that. Beyond this point, I would like to see the party fully ground themselves at an ideological level, including once and for all deciding what the stance on economics truly is. One look at the LDV comments section can tell anyone that there are two factions here, and only one of them has a future.

  • Actually I do not think it makes one iota of difference where we position ourselves. Our die was cast 3 -4 years ago and really we are stuck with that irrespective of what we say. We just have to struggle through to May 7th as best we can and hope we have a group of 12 – 15 on May 8th.

  • matt (Bristol) 27th Apr '15 - 10:47am

    “But once you went into a coalition you became the Tories.”

    In a sentence, the critical problem we have inthe public mindset. How to address it:
    – a) Appear to accept its essential truth by never again trying to reach out to those who hate or distrust the Tories. Political suicide, in my view, and a dereliction of the party’s hertiage.
    – a) demonstrate it is false by evidencing the differences in policy and action, yet risk not satisfying those whom the specifics of policy don’t excite, whilst still arousing the scepticism of those who like the coalition and don’t like us playing games in it.
    – b) Contend it is false whilst regretting some consequenses of coalition and recognising it appears plausible to many people – thereby risking falling between two stools by not standing up for what we have done, whilst not sufficiently repudiating what the Tories have done for those who hate them to trust us?
    – c) ‘Prove’ that we felt it was true by rejecting the Tories aggressively shifting policy and repudiating those who argued for coalition? Still risky in that rebullding will take generations, and lose those who thought coalition a constructive policy, even if they felt it had negative effects.
    – d) leave the field, defeated, and laugh at every other party that faces the same problem of black-and-white kneejerk perception in future (when Labour went into coalition with the SNP, they rejected the English … when the SNP joined with Labour, they showed they don’t care about Scotland … when Farage did a deal with Cameron, he showed he wasn’t serious about leaving the EU … when Umuna did a deal with Boris, they showed that voting is pointless …)

    Judy, I really liked your article, but will wait to comment a bit more constructively when I’ve put my thoughts in order; I have a lot of them.

  • Stephen Hesketh 27th Apr '15 - 10:48am

    Hi Judy, I’m glad you didn’t hesitate to write another piece for LDV.

    I am in full agreement with the points you raise.

    For want of a better analogy we are the Waitrose of the UK political scene yet the core message being put out by NC and his PR team boils down to us being neither Pound Land or Pound Shop.

    An appaulingly thin representation of the richness of Liberal Democracy.

  • Samuel Griffiths 27th Apr ’15 – 10:13am

    Very well put, Sam – though I disagree slightly with the point re: economics. After all, Labout change their view on a semi-regular basis (not that I’m saying that is a good thing) and, as Keynes once argued, when the facts change so should our opinons. Economics needs to remain a science first, an ideology second.

    What we need is a real defination of who we are the party for- for all their ills, I think people feel they *are* Lab, Con, UKIP, SNP people – we have shyed away from that. That, I believe, is part of why the vote has slumped – people don’t feel as much as an emotional affinity with us as other parties, we don’t get the benefit of the doubt in the way Lab do for instance. Perhaps it is time to revive the Gladstone adage – we, as Liberals, back the masses against the classes.

  • I’ve spent the weekend in Somerset…A niece’s 18th birthday celebration was on the agenda….

    A family/friends gathering preceded the ‘youngsters going clubbing’….In conversation with a group of 18-22 year olds I asked what they thought of the electioneering and who they’d vote for…

    Their response was apathetic and so I said “Well you’ve really four choices…

    Ukip…moans and “No chance, racists”
    Conservative….”Ummmm”?
    Labour….”Ummmm”?
    LibDem…”No-way, tuition fees”

    Not a wide audience, perhaps…However, their answers were almost unanimous…

  • matt (Bristol) 27th Apr '15 - 11:29am

    Vote for the party of UMMMMMMMMM

  • Good article.
    The problem with the strategy so far is that it is reliant on people seeing opposition as scary when the main complaint from voters is that all the parties are all the same. Plus if you did find the proposition of either Labour or The Conservatives scary, then why would you vote for a party that is only capable of moderating them to a minimal degree. And this is before you get to the reality that people affected by things like the bedroom tax don’t think the Lib Dems moderated the Conservatives at all. It just hasn’t and isn’t working. So the best thing to do is fight as Liberals on issues liberals support. The middle ground shifts according to where the other parties stand anyway. Liberalism should be presented as a mere compromise.

  • Samuel Griffiths 27th Apr '15 - 11:50am

    And who can blame them, expats? People are starting to cotton on to the idea that Labour and Conservative are not as dissimilar as their policies appear. It’s unsurprising that the youth vote was first LibDem, and now Green after what we have seen during the last 5 years. If you take away any mainstream alternative to corporate power and privatization, then what is actually the point in voting at all? I completely understand them. I was quite determined I would be spoiling my ballot, though the Democrat inside me has recently woken up and I will of course be voting. FPTP is luckily still an issue the LibDems can ally with basically anyone on in order to get through and I would be happy to support the party on anything PR related.

    It is from this point I would like to pick up on something you said, ATF. Whilst I certainly stand corrected on many of your points, I don’t believe it is so easy to remove the ideology from economics. Economics is certainly a science, yes, but it can only be a science if you have an aim. A strong economy is great, but strong for who? You cannot both have powerful financial institutions and big business whilst having powerful people and worker rights – the two simply don’t go hand in hand. Keynes himself believed in regulated markets and had no issue with government intervention. We have moved a fair bit away from his original model in my opinion.

  • Thanks Judy – I found myself agreeing with this 100%. We are now in this awful muddle of being positioned as a least worst alternative to Labour in Tory leaning marginals, and vice versa in Labour one. An older member at an LGBTQ event told me emotionally on the night the age of consent finally was equalised he knew he was liberal when Jo Grimond spoke up for homosexual law reform – the Tories still wanted Reading Gaol and Wilson worried about losing 6 million votes. I believed and still do that the best of the party place the individual first, above left/right binaries, and above the short-term gain of narrow populism.

    And now we are left with this ‘useful brake’ analogy on red or blue, which I think is disrespectful to our members and our history. It also means people ask, not unreasonably, which way are we jumping this time, or more likely, already assume we are on the right.

    I’ve been watching too much poldark, but ‘resurgam’ as they say.

  • I meant should not be present a mere compromises.

  • Stephen Hesketh 27th Apr '15 - 12:10pm

    Glenn27th Apr ’15 – 11:31am
    “The problem with the strategy so far is that it is reliant on people seeing opposition as scary when the main complaint from voters is that all the parties are all the same. Plus if you did find the proposition of either Labour or The Conservatives scary, then why would you vote for a party that is only capable of moderating them to a minimal degree. And this is before you get to the reality that people affected by things like the bedroom tax don’t think the Lib Dems moderated the Conservatives at all. It just hasn’t and isn’t working. So the best thing to do is fight as Liberals on issues liberals support. The middle ground shifts according to where the other parties stand anyway. Liberalism should [[[ NOT ]]] be presented as a mere compromise.”

    Good comments Glenn … I have inserted the NOT I am sure you intended 🙂

  • Stephen Howse 27th Apr '15 - 1:17pm

    Well done, Judy.

    I have absolutely zero interest in splitting the difference between the ideas of two other parties. I’m far more interested in putting forward our own distinctive and better ideas.

    Nye Bevan was right. “We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run down.”

  • Thanks for the positive feedback so far. On a train from London to.Bath with a pretty poor phone. Will.respond more soon!

  • @ Caracatus, Rob, Matt , Stephens H and H and others, thank you all for your supportive comments.

    We will have to see what 7th May brings, but if the replies here are anything to go by, maybe we shouldn’t wait until after the Election to talk up our real values. What’s to lose? 10 days a long time in politics!

  • Samuel Griffiths: “I would like to see the party fully ground themselves at an ideological level, including once and for all deciding what the stance on economics truly is.”

    Absolutely. Economics could be a science but it very rarely is. Mostly, it’s an elaborate justification of the existing social order completely divorced from observable facts and therefore riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions. It’s purpose is to obscure and misdirect, not enlighten.

    A party that chooses to stay within the ruling neo-liberal economic paradigm can, at best, offer better management of the status quo. Conversely, a party that really wanted to be radical would first have to challenge and defeat the self-serving thinking that defends the establishment by, for example, promoting market fundamentalism and ignoring how power – the establishment’s power – is a key determinant of outcomes. This really is an open goal but one the Lib Dems seem determined to ignore.

    So, tragically, the Lib Dem’s pitch is quite explicitly to offer better management and while that’s admittedly a low bar it’s not one I can get excited about. People are clearly desperate for a new lead so where some hail Clegg for leading Lib Dems to a share in power for the first time in decades I see him and his crew throwing away a historic opportunity, the chance to capitalise on a very rare event – the complete collapse of a ruling paradigm.

  • @expats “.In conversation with a group of 18-22 year olds I asked what they thought of the electioneering and who they’d vote for…”

    The correct answer is of course no one because that age group doesn’t bother to vote.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Apr '15 - 6:23pm

    I wasn’t going to comment on this article because quite frankly I comment enough, but I need to provide some balance considering most of the comments seem to think either becoming a libertarian party or a socialist party is a good idea.

    You say you don’t want to be “equidistant” but “out in front”, which is rather vague considering the rest of the article asks for radicalism. Given your preferences, which include a good endorsement for the “help to rent” scheme, it appears that you want the party to be on the centre-left.

    In my opinion the left means well, but a lot of the time it campaigns based on myths. If we take a former specialist area of mine, financial advice for richer people, the idea that it is easy to avoid lots of tax if you are rich simply isn’t true. But the message seems to get promoted, either mistakenly or to stoke division.

    I won’t tackle libertarianism here, but we should continue talking about ideas such as “help to rent”, which is a lot better than “rent to own”, which is just a rebrand of “rent to buy”.

  • David Evershed 27th Apr '15 - 7:12pm

    Not that many people know what any political party stands for.

    My guess is that those who think they know assume (wrongly) that

    – UKIP stands for UK First
    – Green stands for envirinment protection
    – Conservative stands for well off people and
    – Labour stands for porrer people

    …… but I don’t think there is a preconceived idea about what the Lib Dems stand for.

    My own simple explanation to people in a dozen words is

    Right wing on economics and business and left wing on education and welfare.

    Any different suggestions?

    and the Greens who people assume think stand for Uk first (in the case of UKIP) and the environment (in the case oif the Greens).

    I don’So some people

  • @ David Partially agree, but just not too far to the right on the economics! I heard the playwright David Hare say on the radio yesterday say that Britain was a happier place pre-Thatcher which I would totally agree with. Social divisions have grown since then. I think to start with we need improved rights for working people,

  • TCO 27th Apr ’15 – 6:23pm ……………“.In conversation with a group of 18-22 year olds I asked what they thought of the electioneering and who they’d vote for…”…………..The correct answer is of course no one because that age group doesn’t bother to vote…………….

    Strange then that the LibDems, and LDV, spend so much time courting that vote…Perhaps they should just listen to you and not bother….

  • “But once you went into a coalition you became the Tories.”

    These are the words from ordinary people that I have had thrown at me repeatedly for the last five years.

    This is what a mass of people think and why they will notvote for us in 2015. It underlines what the opinion polls, local election results and membership figures have said consistently for years now. With days to the general election the only thing ordinary members and activists. An do is concentrate their efforts in the handful of seats where reliable, consistent, proper Liberal Democrat MPs have a chance of beating the Conservatives who are now the clear and present dagger to us.

    The picture says it all — Danny Alexander in front of that poster when in Scotland being halfway between Tory and Labour is being halfway between being dead and being very dead.

  • Along with many who have posted I agree with Judy Abel, however it can be argued that at least a year ago it was decided not to bother to try to increase our national vote share but just fight 57 or so by-elections.

    @ ATF
    “Economics needs to remain a science first”
    Economics is a social science (a science is a testable and experiments when repeated produce the same result).

    @ATF
    “revive the Gladstone adage – we, as Liberals, back the masses against the classes.”
    Lovely thought – or back the people against the powerful and privileged.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Apr ’15 – 6:23pm ………….In my opinion the left means well, but a lot of the time it campaigns based on myths. If we take a former specialist area of mine, financial advice for richer people, the idea that it is easy to avoid lots of tax if you are rich simply isn’t true. But the message seems to get promoted, either mistakenly or to stoke division……………..

    HSBC had no trouble in recruiting willing participants…..Lord Fink even went as far as to say, that, “everyone’ engages in tax avoidance”.

  • Surely it is possible to make clear that the centrist message is about the economy but that on everything else (eg education, health, environment, civil liberties, internationalism) we’re very different and much better?

  • @ Totally agree Mark. I know that it’s not part of the Liberal tradition, but I also think we need to reinstate some of the employment rights lost under this administration. People now have no real rights unless they have been in a job foray least two years. This, and the decline and fall of the Unions, means that people in work are not protected in the ‘hire and fire’ and ‘ zero-hour contracts’ economy .

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 28th Apr '15 - 8:57am

    In constituencies which have a monopoly by returning the same large party, election after election, there is obviously little point in voting Lib Dem while the polls are at 8% to 10% for us. We climbed out of the wasted vote situation over many years, only to be back in it again in most of the country. For whom should we vote at this critical time? Critical in so many ways.

    In a few constituencies there is a fight to retain our own MPs and Councillors. But in the majority of constituencies our voters will consider:- 1] policies of all the parties and 2] the strength of each party’s support [via polls, local activity and more]. These tactical voters will balance policies and local strength – then vote according to ‘the best fit’ to achieve their personal principles. They hope to elect the candidate who will represent them to some extent – albeit not from their own party. Some voters from all the smaller parties will be doing this, and sometimes tactical voting will return our own candidates too. Without STV etc, we will do our best to return a government [and council] which will represent us. Best wishes to our candidates of course!

  • @ John Tilley ““But once you went into a coalition you became the Tories.” These are the words from ordinary people that I have had thrown at me repeatedly for the last five years.”

    But the problem is, John, you agree with them. So rather than trying to persuade them otherwise you’ve perpetuated this myth and hastened the electoral misfortune that will befall us.

    ” the handful of seats where reliable, consistent, proper Liberal Democrat MPs ”

    John who elected you to be the sole arbiter of what constitutes a “reliable, consistent, proper Liberal Democrat MP”?

    What you mean by that John is “people like me/us” which is the worst kind of cronyism we rightly despise in both the Labour and Conservative parties.

    You often go on about the preamble – well let’s read it again shall we? “no one shall be enslaved by … conformity.”

    Perhaps you should practice what you preach. I, for one, am not going to be enslaved by conforming to the narrow definition of what constitutes a “proper Liberal Democrat” that you espouse.

  • Ben Gardner 28th Apr '15 - 9:57am

    I voted Lib Dem in 2005 and 2010, the intervening local/EU elections and ‘Yes’ in the AV vote. I studied economics and politics at university so I have a reasonable understanding of UK politics. I still consider myself a liberal, pro-european and social democrat.

    However I have absolutely no idea what your party is doing at the moment. Inexplicably, Nick Clegg seems to be following a scorched earth policy on all of your centre-left supporters. All those millions of people who moved over from Labour in the noughties are now being told that everything they believed in was wrong. That spending money on schools and hospitals was reckless. Even sensible ideas from Labour (such as improved rights for renters) are now trashed by the Lib Dems with barely a pause. Not only that but the party seems to be now rejecting the whole idea of coalition democracy in exchange for a position of having the Tories as a ‘preferred partner’.

    I don’t understand what you guys want or believe in any more. I’m done.

  • @Ben Gardiner “All those millions of people who moved over from Labour in the noughties are now being told that everything they believed in was wrong. That spending money on schools and hospitals was reckless. ”

    That is simply wrong. We have promised an extra £8bn for the NHS, something Labour has consistently refused to commit to. We have also made early years education funding a red line. We introduced the pupil premium and free school meals.

    Labour’s spending on schools was reckless, because it was done under PFI whereby interest payments were deferred and are only now starting to kick in and cripple the education and health budgets.

  • @ Ben. I take your point, but we do have some good policies in our Manifesto especially on the environment and mental health. It’s just no one seems to be talking about that very much,

    I think being in Coalition has, ironically, damaged our confidence as a Party because we have had to take all the knocks for everything negative that has happened over the past five years. We didn’t really have enough MPs to fully counter the Tory programme of cuts, although maybe should have tried harder. To be fair though, there wasn’t exactly a lot of money around when Labour left office.

    I think PR is the best hope for the Party. We can then rebuild knowing Lib Dem voters will get more of what they actually vote for.

  • TCO/Judy – I appreciate that when you look at the details of the manifesto that there’s a lot of progressive, good social democratic stuff. But when you campaign on the basis that Labour are going to ‘destroy the economy’ by spending a few billion more than the Tories you are sending a message to voters that you agree with austerity.

    The campaign shouldn’t be fought as though it’s a debate on The Sunday Politics; it doesn’t matter if you win the policy argument amongst political obsessives. You need to be giving ex Labour voters a reason to come out for you and launching consistent attacks on Ed Miliband isn’t helping. You have a choice how you want to phrase your arguments, what policies you want to push, want tone you want to take when speaking about your rivals. The current campaign appears to the casual observer all about wanting another Tory coalition; under which very little of you decent social democratic stuff is going to happen.

    It should be fairly obvious to everyone that you have no future as a more conservative version of the Labour party . . . .

  • jedibeeftrix 28th Apr '15 - 11:00am

    @ IanH – “This linear concept also contains the danger that to be in the centre is to sit on the fence. The true dichotomy today is reactionary v progressive. Both Labour and Conservative are shackled by the anxiety that they should be more what they used to be,”

    This might well be true, but in our adversarial political system (and political society!), this is meaningless for the lib-dems unless they choose to define themselves as a pole of politics in opposition to [either] the Tories [or] Labour.

    Soggy centrism around niche points of view doesn’t cut it; liberalism either succeeds in appealing across the geographic and ideological divide sufficiently to win elections, or its a bit-part player in a game whose rules will be defined by the big boys.

    That means compromising and adapting what liberalism is, to meet the desires and expectations of a majority of the electorate. Unwilling to make this compromise? Well, its back to the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the unfairness of left/right politics in this country.

    The liberals are fighting a defensive election based on soggy centrism, too late now for this election sadly, but it needs to change in 2016 if the party is to capitalise on the growing irrelevance of the labour movement, and ultimately occupy the positive liberty pole it has claimed for itself for the last hundred years.

    Your call…

  • @Ben Gardner I think you do Labour voters a disservice if you don’t believe they are interested in the economy. After all, most of them will have or want jobs, many of them will have or want mortgages, and many of them will receive benefits that have to be paid for out of government revenue.

    If the economy is wrecked there are fewer jobs, less money raised in tax, higher interest rates, and more money spend on debt interest. Which means millions of people are worse off.

    Every year spent with a deficit means more debt added to the £1.5 Tn pile we already have, and more money spent on debt interest. We spend nearly £50bn per annum on debt interest which is more than the Defence Budget and half of what is spent on the NHS.

    Keynes said borrow in the bad times but, and this was forgotten by Brown and Balls, pay it off in the good times.

  • TCO so John Tilley has “hastened our electoral misfortune”. Handy to know. A young couple stood outside my house the other day laughing at my Lib Dem stakeboard. The other week I was out delivering near my kids’ school and was mocked with a vehemence I have never experienced in 29 and a half years in the party.

    It must be that John Tilley’s fault what with all those myths he’s perpetuated and all.

  • Judy, thanks for this well-written article, which I comletely agree with.

    I’d like to offer some observations on your comment to Ben that the Lib Dems “have had to take all the Knocks for everything negative that has happened in the last five years”. I think the problem the Lub Dems face is that your Unique Selling Point at the 2010 GE was the fact that you were generally seen to be more principled and ‘honest’ than the other parties. This was capitalised on as an election strategy by Nick Clegg who told us all in the PPB that the Lib would put an end to broken promises of the other parties and offered a ‘new kind of politics’. By breaking the Pledge once in Office, that killed off your USB, I would think for a generation. Now the Lib Dems are seen as just like all the other parties. So, even though the Lib Dems have the best policies of any party, in my opinion, there is a huge credibility issue. Only one thing would have saved the Lib Dems in my view, and that was if the leadership had stopped the Lansley reforms – in one stroke the vast majority of voters would have seen the LDs stopping the worst excesses of the Tories.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Apr '15 - 11:22am

    TCO28th Apr ’15 – 9:28am
    [[@ John Tilley ““But once you went into a coalition you became the Tories.” These are the words from ordinary people that I have had thrown at me repeatedly for the last five years.”]]

    “But the problem is, John, you agree with them. So rather than trying to persuade them otherwise you’ve perpetuated this myth and hastened the electoral misfortune that will befall us.”

    On the contrary TC, in everyday life I, and I guess most of the Preamble-believing Lib Dems, talk to people about the values and richness of Liberal Democracy.

    Repeatedly pointing out (on LDV) the cliffs NC is steering us towards does not perpetuate the myth (as you describe it) nor hasten “the electoral misfortune that will befall us”.

    Had our comments been listened to sooner we would not now be heading for the electoral misfortune that you belatedly accept is about to befall us.

    The myth is that we are a Centre-right party.

    Unfortunately for us, Clegg and his inner circle in parliament and at HQ have intentionally propagated this myth in order to attract his ‘soft Tories’, to “Reclaim Liberalism” and recast the Liberal Democrats as a continental-style societally liberal but economically ‘free market’ centrist party.

  • Ray Earwicker 28th Apr '15 - 11:23am

    As a Party member and former PPC I have to agree with the sentiments expressed by Judy. The main thrust of the Party’s strategy for the GE seems more concerned with positioning itself as the good guys rather than promoting its own policies. There is nothing wrong with being cast as the Party of the middle but the message as it is currently being promulgated is simply not being heard and can sound supercilious at times. The heavy emphasis on one-liners such as we would ‘cut less then the Tories, borrow less than Labour’ could also leaves us open to the counter charge that we would ‘borrow more than the Tories, cut more than Labour’!

    I agree that at this stage we should be concentrating on presenting our own set of policies and resisting any involvement in talk of coalitions, This can appear presumptuous for smaller parties such as ours , especially given our position in the polls.

  • Matt (Bristol) 28th Apr '15 - 11:26am

    Hi Judy,

    I strongly agree that describing ourselves by what we’re not, in terms of the other parties, is a non-starter for a national campaign. As others have pointed out, the decision has been taken to not really fight a genuinely national campaign but to fight local fights focussed on pulling in swing voters from other parties’ support. Alas, there is almost no national summary that can be applied to that than the uninspiring ‘vote for us – we’re Camerband’ message (or in Scotland, ‘Camerbandeon’) which hides so much that is unique and inspiring about what the party is and what its motivations in doing what it has done were – let alone where it hopes to go for the future. It does nothing more than play up the territoral, divided inheritance bequeathed to us by pushing a third party into a two-party system, which has left us entrenching the establishment of 2 opposing economic views within the party, at least 2 different prevailing views about who our natural partner ought to be in a coalition situation, and mutual resentment all round. (The Tory shift to the right, abandoning tempting chunks of the centre-right electorate, is a huge part of this, too — a world in which Clarke, not Hague, had led the Conservatives in the late 90s would include a very different LibDem party).

    But although I am a Clegg-sceptic and not a starry-eyed fan of the current direction of travel, I do still strongly believe in that much discredited thing Nic Clegg clearly also believes in – the radical centre. I am a centrist and I think our party ought to be, too. But what is centrism? Where is the centre?

    For me, there is a confusion on this site between triangulation – ie a tactical, short-termist positioning between two other parties’ shifting positions – and centrism – the belief that a mainstream consensus exists in the nation’s political life that can be articulated and tapped into and has not been nurtured by the politics of right and left (or of centre-right and centre-left). The crucial difference is that the first is only present-centred – it looks at where we are now, and ignores the past and the future – and the other is an attempt to locate a political philosphy within a historical narrative.

    Personally, I would describe the consensus we ought to be tapping, the legacy of 50+ years of British political development, as this:
    – sceptical about nationwide, highly centrallised state control of public services, but recognising and affriming the value of public service, not attacking those who seek to deliver them, or the mechanisms by which they are organised.
    – realising that the economic debate is not about whether or not the state must intervene to regulate the market economy, but about how often it does so, how much, and for what end.
    – continuing an approach to foreign affairs that does not cut off Britain from outside influence, or from sharing its prosperity with others, but relies on diplomacy, not military aggression, as its primary tool of dealing.
    – Not casually disparaging the idea that in any advanced nation there is a duty to care in a humane way for the most vulnerable people in society, however that is funded, and whether those people are ‘deserving’ or not.
    – building a diverse nation in which different classes, cultural and national groups benefit from a system that allows them to together in mutual respect and make compromises together, not divided from each other by ignorance and mutual distrust.

    THe key to this, for me, is furthering democracy – we are best placed to speak for the historic consensus of British politics as we believe the people need to speak for themselves and hold their politicans to account, both locally and nationally, within a thought-out, not patchwork, constitutional system that promotes dialogue. We want to build the system, not play the system.

    This is where we are radicals – because we recognise that to protect the best of our nation’s past inheritance, our systems need radical change. I don’t know if that makes me an ideological ‘liberal’, but it does make me a democrat.

  • @Ruth Bright you may recall that the pronoun “you” can refer both to the singular and the plural. John is enough happy to act as spokesman for the “radical left” – by buying into the “we’ve got into bed with the enemy” meme rather than pointing out the differences between a Conservative majority and a coalition he’s part of the problem, not the solution.

  • @Stephen Hesketh yet another “radical” who quotes the preamble yet conveniently forgets the bit about being enslaved by conformity.

  • @Stephen Hesketh “Had our comments been listened to sooner we would not now be heading for the electoral misfortune that you belatedly accept is about to befall us.”

    The truth of the matter Mr H is that the left-leaning supporters we had ran away in 2010 right after we signed the coalition deal (and the opposite would have happened if we’d gone the other way).

    However, rather than attempt to spend the next five years persuading those people that the alternatives (Labour coalition and economic meltdown or Tory minority, second election and majority) would have been far worse, you and your fellows took your collective bats and balls away and sat on the sidelines sniping and undermining the party, and reinforcing the “they’re the same as the Tories” message to boot.

    “The myth is that we are a Centre-right party. ”

    It certainly is a myth, or more properly a straw man erected by yourself.

  • Matt (Bristol) 28th Apr '15 - 11:53am

    “the left-leaning supporters we had ran away in 2010”

    I didn’t, I joined in 2014.

  • @Phyllis. I agree. Because we have always been considered, and consider ourselves, a more ideological party, when we break the people’s trust we fall more heavily. It seems unforgivable to the electorate. Look at people seemingly so happy to give Labour another chance after badly mismanaging the finances, while we are not forgiven.

    The only strategy is to come clean – and make amends. I personally think as part of any Coalition deal or arrangement we should insist on tuition fees being lowered to £5,000 and say we will not work with anyone who doesn’t agree to this. It’s not in our manifesto but would restore some credibility for next time around. We shouldn’t talk about it now – bus just do it after May 7th if we have any power to wield.

  • @Matt (Bristol)

    “Personally, I would describe the consensus we ought to be tapping, the legacy of 50+ years of British political development, as this:
    – sceptical about nationwide, highly centrallised state control of public services, but recognising and affriming the value of public service, not attacking those who seek to deliver them, or the mechanisms by which they are organised.
    – realising that the economic debate is not about whether or not the state must intervene to regulate the market economy, but about how often it does so, how much, and for what end.
    – continuing an approach to foreign affairs that does not cut off Britain from outside influence, or from sharing its prosperity with others, but relies on diplomacy, not military aggression, as its primary tool of dealing.
    – Not casually disparaging the idea that in any advanced nation there is a duty to care in a humane way for the most vulnerable people in society, however that is funded, and whether those people are ‘deserving’ or not.
    – building a diverse nation in which different classes, cultural and national groups benefit from a system that allows them to together in mutual respect and make compromises together, not divided from each other by ignorance and mutual distrust.”

    I agree with all of this.

    The only thing I would add is the following:

    “continuing an approach to foreign affairs that does not cut off Britain from outside influence, or from sharing its prosperity with others, but relies on diplomacy, not military aggression, as its primary tool of dealing; but is prepared to support legally sanctioned military action to support the interests of ourselves and our international partners, and consequently that is prepared to invest in and care for its military in a way that recognises their expertise and professionalism and particular needs.

  • Matt (Bristol) “I didn’t, I joined in 2014.”

    Interesting, and welcome!

    Given that according to Messrs Tilley, Hesketh, Evans and Allen – the Four Horsemen of the Electoral Apocalypse – we’ve long ago been reduced to the right-wing plaything of the market fundamentalist Orange Bookers, what attracted you into the Lair of the Beast?

  • TCO yet again utter rubbish on your part. Membership was actually higher at the end of 2010 compared to the start. Many more people of all shades left after Nick went back on his pledge over tuition fees than after we went into coalition. You may want to paint people like Stephen who want to rebuild the party as having taken bat and ball home, but I know that Stephen Hesketh has been working like a Trojan for his local Lib Dem MP. In contrast all we know about you is that you seem to be the latest in a line of Nick supporters who appear on LDV choosing to cast aspersions about those who can see Nick’s feet of clay. Most of them fade away after a while to be replaced by someone else. As a fighter against conformity, I hope you will be around for a long time yet, and as an opposer of ignorance, I hope you improve on the accuracy of your so called truths.

  • Matt (Bristol) 28th Apr '15 - 12:17pm

    Specifically what made me join the party was right-leaning idiots on here telling the world that the left-leaning vote had left and therefore the party needed to focus only on the Tory swing voters. I got so angry, I feared for my computer. And also I continue to fear that a split or collapse of the party (with which I genuinely still think we are flirting) will set back the cause of democratic reform in this country by decades – decades from which it might not emerge.

    And whatever you think of the rhetoric of the angry left in the party, don’t see what someone says on ehre as a mouthpiece of the left as necessarily representative of the left in the party as a whole, and don’t also dismiss what they have to say — don’t push the party further down the road of dualism that will lead to a damaging and fatal split.

    I think you need to discover the Social Liberal Forum.

  • Five years ago the notion that the Lib Dems were a centre-right party would have been laughable to anyone not already positioned on the extreme left. Today the party is talked of as the natural ally of the Tories, in the same breath with UKIP and the DUP. . It is clear that something has gone terribly wrong.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Apr '15 - 12:21pm

    TCO28th Apr ’15 – 11:44am
    “@Stephen Hesketh yet another “radical” who quotes the preamble yet conveniently forgets the bit about being enslaved by conformity.”

    TCO – What a strange comment. You are however very wrong about that as well. I am unreservedly happy for everyone to live their lives in their way and by their own values provided they do not negatively impact upon the rights of others. Live and let live.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Apr '15 - 12:35pm

    TCO28th Apr ’15 – 11:51am
    “The truth of the matter Mr H is that the left-leaning supporters we had ran away in 2010 right after we signed the coalition deal (and the opposite would have happened if we’d gone the other way).

    However, rather than attempt to spend the next five years persuading those people that the alternatives (Labour coalition and economic meltdown or Tory minority, second election and majority) would have been far worse, you and your fellows took your collective bats and balls away and sat on the sidelines sniping and undermining the party, and reinforcing the “they’re the same as the Tories” message to boot.”

    Time for a lie down TCO.
    I supported and continued to support the coalition until Stephen Tall’s very last members poll.

    The fact that Nick Clegg and his inner circle made a mess of demonstrating to the British people the differentiated value we brought to that coalition is another matter altogether and patently, as our standing in the polls clearly demonstrates, not one open to debate.

  • @David Evans I’m not talking about members, I’m talking about support. Go and look at the opinion poll graphs for 2010 and how they slide down to the low teens over the course of the year. Setting up a straw man once again 😉

    @Matt (Bristol) I have generally found much common cause with social Liberals over the years, and have had many fruitful and interesting conversations with them.

    But unfortunately there is a vocal and co-ordinated band of Brothers (in the “one aht all aht”!” sense) who tend to have come to maturity in the 60s and 70-s and who employ the fissiparious tactics of left-wing factionalism that were so associated with those much maligned decades.

    Consequently, and in the best traditions of Liberal contrarianism, when I see such well-orchestrated tactics I feel duty-bound to challenge them.

    By contrast I have always found you open-minded, reasonable, thoughtful and though-provoking.

    @David-1 that is just lazy media reporting and the simple fact that unlike UKIP and the SNP, we have not ruled out (or in) coalition with either Labour or the Conservatives. The left-leaning SNP, Greens, and Plaid all have.

    @Stephen Hesketh “Live and let live” unless you’re a crypto-Tory market-fundamentlist entryist Orange Booker? 😉

  • @TCO – you choose to use LDV to criticise 4 named individuals who regularly post here regarding the drifty to the right of my party. Yet you choose to hide behind 3 initials. Depending on one’s perspective, this is either childish, cowardly or because your only purpose is to stir up trouble. Whilst you continue to hide your comments have no value to a developing debate.

    Note to Editors – is it not time to limit comments to those will to have their real name displayed. Allowing people to hide is simply wrong on a forum such as LDV.

  • @Matt (Bristol) “I think you need to discover the Social Liberal Forum.”

    Would my blood pressure stand it? 🙂

    I’m always struck about how much each wing of the party agrees on; its just a matter of nuance in terms of the way to tackle the problems we all recognise are there.

    What’s more troubling is the “it’s my way or the highway” view that says there is only one sort of “proper” Liberal and any other sort should get on its bike.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Apr '15 - 12:53pm

    TCO28th Apr ’15 – 12:38pm
    “@Stephen Hesketh “Live and let live” unless you’re a crypto-Tory market-fundamentlist entryist Orange Booker?”

    Absolutely not. You are free to believe that tosh if you wish. It is when you attempt to impose it on a NON-crypto-Tory market-fundamentlist entryist Orange Booker party that you come unstuck 🙂

  • David Evans 28th Apr '15 - 1:10pm

    Curious TCO – In response to your “the left-leaning supporters we had ran away in 2010″ I point out membership rose in 2010 and you tell me “I’m not talking about members”. However before that, when Matt (Bristol) responded to your comment by saying “I didn’t, I joined in 2014.” you reply without any mention of “I’m not talking about members.“ A good poster learns that he or she has to be consistent or they get the derision they deserve. Quality outweighs quantity when it comes to influencing liberals.

    Off out canvasing again. Bye.

  • @David-1 “Curious TCO – In response to your “the left-leaning supporters we had ran away in 2010″ I point out membership rose in 2010 and you tell me “I’m not talking about members”. However before that, when Matt (Bristol) responded to your comment by saying “I didn’t, I joined in 2014.” you reply without any mention of “I’m not talking about members.“ A good poster learns that he or she has to be consistent or they get the derision they deserve. Quality outweighs quantity when it comes to influencing liberals.”

    Go back and read my original post and you’ll find I used the word “supporters”. If I’d meant to talk about members, I’d have used the word “members”. You introduced the word “members” as a straw man to promote your own agenda.

    A good poster learns that he or she has to be accurate or they get the derision they deserve. Quality outweighs quantity when it comes to influencing Liberals.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Apr '15 - 1:23pm

    @TCO

    You may want to paint people like David Evans who want to rebuild the party as having taken bat and ball home, but I know that David has been working like a Trojan for his local Lib Dem MP.

    Infact, I believe he may have just gone out canvassing for him 🙂

  • @Stephen Hesketh I’m pleased that David Evans is able to go out canvassing in support of his local Lib Dem MP. That’s not an option I have because my local MP is a Conservative.

    @David Evans were you born before 1965? I wasn’t, by the way.

  • Well put, Judy. The ‘split the difference’ strategy is flawed in several respects and certainly explains why I – having been a party member since1978 – have thus far not responded to any of the Party’s requests for money or help in this election. It leaves me cold. It has no emotional appeal and as a call to arms it’s a complete damp squib. It relies on a totally bogus narrative of mythical ‘lurches to extremes’ and an illusory ‘centre ground’.
    It also suffers from an inherent psychological problem. Whilst most voters are not ‘extreme’ in the sense that they possess views that are far removed from the mainstream, neither would they consider themselves to be ‘middle of the road’. To be ‘middle of the road’ or in the ‘centre ground’ to use the current lexicon, is to admit to having no views, no opinions, and to be incapable of making an argument. It’s a bit like Dire Straits – the band that sold millions of albums in the mid- 1980s but yet which few people would ever admit to liking or considered musically ‘cool’.
    Politics should be about passion and successful campaigns are based on an emotional appeal as much as cold logic. A rallying call of moderation, moderation, moderation doesn’t do the job.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 28th Apr '15 - 1:42pm

    @PhilRimmer: The reason we allow people to comment using pseudonyms, so long as they provide an email address with which we can communicate with them, is that there are people who by reason of their jobs are not allowed to comment under their own names. I don’t think we should stop those voices being heard. That would be illiberal to me. They are bound by the same rules as everybody else, though.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 28th Apr '15 - 1:46pm

    @TCO: There have been a number of occasions on this thread and other where you have tried to twist other posters’ comments and put nuances on what they have said that they may have not meant. You are also sailing close to the wind on making ad hominem comments about people, namely John Tilley and Stephen Hesketh in this thread. Please stop it.

    There is room for all of us in this party and we need to treat all our colleagues with respect. I disagree with John, Stephen and you from time to time, but I would not question your liberalism.

  • That should have been to @David Evans. Apologies @David-1

  • @Caron assuming what you’ve said is true (and your charge was not my intention) then other parties to this thread have behaved in the same fashion, yet are not receiving the same warning.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Apr '15 - 2:30pm

    TCO28th Apr ’15 – 1:53pm
    “@Caron assuming what you’ve said is true (and your charge was not my intention) then other parties to this thread have behaved in the same fashion, yet are not receiving the same warning.”

    TCO – wrong yet again.

    Indeed one of my earlier comments took a detour to the M-place. From the time I spotted it Phil Rimmer’s post may have been there also. And believe me, Caron probably knows my home email address by heart!

  • TCO and Stephen, Yup, I have my comments deleted too pretty regularly – the latest was this morning. I’ve been on the naughty step since last May so all my comments are pre-moderated, I’m sure I must deserve a long service award for that. Don’t take it to heart, it’s just the way the LDV peeps run their site and on the whole most of the mods are good people. Some comments make it through and others don’t. It’s not worth getting upset over, but it is very revealing. Just take anything they say about valuing free speech with a pinch of salt 😉

  • Sadie Smith 28th Apr '15 - 4:21pm

    A useful strand to start, Judy.
    I have seen that sort of slogan used before by an determined candidate. We had a slightly less polite description of it, though I suppose it is just possible it’s time has come. But I don’t think so. But we have had real problems with media thinking only in left/right perspective when it has always been more complicated.
    There is some good stuff being proposed. I am not sure how many people are listening. I never signed that wretched pledge, as I read the words. Others either did the same or voted against. Not done us much good. It was a trap.
    As far as I can see locally the people to leave have been latecomers who thought that winning elections was easy and quick and who lacked stickability. A few have joined Labour (very odd but some were courted for years)
    We are planning to rebuild.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Apr '15 - 4:25pm

    TCO28th Apr ’15 – 1:28pm
    “@Stephen Hesketh I’m pleased that David Evans is able to go out canvassing in support of his local Lib Dem MP. That’s not an option I have because my local MP is a Conservative.”

    You may have missed that I also work for my local MP. Guess what, we both have successful social justice Liberal Democrat MP’s. Odd that – perhaps a lesson for others?

    Re your “@David Evans were you born before 1965? I wasn’t, by the way.” and your earlier “@Stephen Hesketh TCO is not my initials, though it is an acronym. I’m guessing you’re in your mid fifties. If I’m wrong it doesn’t matter; but I suspect I’m right. In the interest of fairness I’m in my mid forties.”

    I’m not sure LDV is the best place to explore your ageist theory but yes, my body is in its mid 50’s but my mind believes itself and my body to be somewhat younger.

    Perhaps you need to explain your theory – which you have touched upon many times before – and why you believe the values of those of us who are old enough to recall a pre-Thatcherite Britain i.e. the days before ‘society’ ceased to exist, may be pigeon holed in some way?

  • @Stephen Hesketh “TCO – wrong yet again. ”

    No – no wrong. Where on this thread have you been told that you’re dangerously close to ad hominem?

  • @Stephen Hesketh I notice that the common thread binding the Quad is as follows:

    – a tendency to define Liberalism narrowly and to exclude anyone who does not fit this narrow definition
    – a tendency to run down the party and its MPs
    – a tendency to hark back to some golden era and a failure to recognise that the world has moved on considerably since then

    I wondered what the common theme was, and it became clear – “baby boomer”. The entitled generation.

  • Sadie Smith 28th Apr ’15 – 4:21pm

    “.. the people to leave have been latecomers who thought that winning elections was easy and quick and who lacked stickability…,
    We are planning to rebuild.”

    Quite right, Sadie.
    Planning to rebuild is essential.
    It is a shame that some who claim to be party members cannot see that and clearly do not have the best interests of the party in mind.
    I know of people who have left us who do not fit your description of “late-comers” but I also know of many who have remained in the party and still think that there is some short-cut, or quick fix or alternative to hard work in politics.

    The daftest quote in this thread is the use of the term “baby boomer” as a term of abuse as if it had any political relevance within the Liberal Democrats in 2015 and beyond.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Apr '15 - 5:52pm

    TCO28th Apr ’15 – 4:44pm
    “@Stephen Hesketh I notice that the common thread binding the Quad is as follows:
    – a tendency to define Liberalism narrowly and to exclude anyone who does not fit this narrow definition
    – a tendency to run down the party and its MPs
    – a tendency to hark back to some golden era and a failure to recognise that the world has moved on considerably since then I wondered what the common theme was, and it became clear – “baby boomer”. The entitled generation.”

    Ouch! I hope Caron hasn’t spotted this one – the entire pre-1965 population dismissed as “baby boomer”. “The entitled generation.”

    Point 1 – When did I or we define Liberalism? However, the strain of Liberalism as supported by this party is set out in the preamble. Sadly I didn’t write it but when I read it, I did think to myself “This is the philosophy and the party for me”. The version you read must have had entire paragraphs blanked out.

    If you don’t like the constitution change it but please do not attempt to undemocratically and dishonestly break the link between the values set out of the preamble and what the party stands for in practice.

    Point 2 – The version of the preamble I have must also be incomplete. Nothing about blind loyalty. Please forward the missing sections. Thank you.

    Point 3 – You are making a serious habit of being wrong. We are not and never have been anywhere near any golden era as far as I am concerned. The golden era comes with the society as envisaged in the preamble. No one reading this will live to see it but I owe it to those who removed us from feudalism, who reduced the influence of an all-powerful church, who fought for self-determination and universal suffrage, who gave us rights as individual and collective citizens and workers, who introduced pensions and social support, who conceived of and introduced the NHS, who gave their lives in defence of our liberal freedoms and who have made this nation one of the most tolerant and liberal on the planet.

    I see it as our task is to continue this progress towards a green, egalitarian, sustainable and above all a Liberal and Democratic future.

    This task will be hindered – not assisted – by the siren voices of the right promising greater prosperity if we only give up some of our hard won freedoms to the global corporations and the ever-wealthier super rich.

  • Peter Watson 28th Apr '15 - 5:59pm

    @TCO “I wondered what the common theme was, and it became clear – “baby boomer”. The entitled generation.”
    To me it seems that a common theme is that these are people whose age and experience reflects that they have spent decades believing in and working for the Liberal Democrat party and its precursors, and are not happy with the way that more recent arrivals have damaged it by ignoring its heritage and by pursuing a very narrow interpretation of “liberalism”.

  • @Stephen Hesketh

    “Point 1 – When did I or we define Liberalism?”

    Mr Tilley regular opines on “proper Liberals”; meaning a narrow definition of social Liberalism.

    “Point 2 – The version of the preamble I have must also be incomplete. Nothing about blind loyalty. Please forward the missing sections. Thank you.”

    I’ll forward you some management training on how to give constructive feedback.

    “Point 3 – You are making a serious habit of being wrong. We are not and never have been anywhere near any golden era as far as I am concerned.”

    In which case it must have been some other Stephen Hesketh who wrote “the values of those of us who are old enough to recall a pre-Thatcherite Britain i.e. the days before ‘society’ ceased to exist,” at 1.38pm.

  • @Peter Watson “To me it seems that a common theme is that these are people whose age and experience reflects that they have spent decades believing in and working for the Liberal Democrat party and its precursors, and are not happy with the way that more recent arrivals have damaged it by ignoring its heritage and by pursuing a very narrow interpretation of “liberalism”.”

    In other words, they resent anyone but their own generation and hate the fact that the world has moved on. You’ve illustrated my point perfectly, many thanks.

    I’m 2 years younger than Clegg and my generation is on the wane. Theirs is already long gone. I can understand their raging at the dying of the light, its only natural. But they need to let go. The party isn’t theirs; its not my generation’s – it belongs to those in their thirties and twenties and we must trust to their judgement.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Apr '15 - 9:27pm

    TCO 28th Apr ’15 – 8:59pm
    “I’m 2 years younger than Clegg and my generation is on the wane. Theirs is already long gone. I can understand their raging at the dying of the light, its only natural. But they need to let go. The party isn’t theirs; its not my generation’s – it belongs to those in their thirties and twenties and we must trust to their judgement.”

    TCO and you accuse others of having narrow views. Absolutely staggering. And absolutely wrong. Again!

    The following is yet another section clearly missing from your copy of the preamble … Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

  • Matt (Bristol) 28th Apr '15 - 9:29pm

    TCO, if I can butt in — as someone in my thirties, I can use the excuse you give me to use my judgement and say – – in amongst the bluster, you sometimes make good points.

    So therefore, calm down, back off, start again turn down the hype and stop winding people up. And if people rile you, don’t react, make positive points wherever you can, don’t try to ‘win’ by demolishing the opposition, but by slowly building up an argument over time based on respect for your perspective.

    Internet fora are easy to become a caricature of yourself on, we all give in to the temptation now and again, but don’t make it a habit.

  • Matt (Bristol) 28th Apr '15 - 9:32pm

    Oh, and we should all show some respect to Judy – this is her article thread, so we should focus on her points.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Apr '15 - 9:33pm

    TCO 28th Apr ’15 – 8:55pm
    “I’ll forward you some management training on how to give constructive feedback.”

    You must work for a very strange company. My normal retirement age is approximately 10 years away. I rather feel you need to consult your dignity at work manual before attempting to lecture me on constructive feedback.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Apr '15 - 9:37pm

    Matt (Bristol) 28th Apr ’15 – 9:32pm
    “Oh, and we should all show some respect to Judy – this is her article thread, so we should focus on her points.”

    On that note Matt, I will end my anti-ageist comments also. An old git like me needs his sleep.

  • John Roffey 28th Apr '15 - 9:54pm

    Ray Earwicker 28th Apr ’15 – 11:23am

    “I agree that at this stage we should be concentrating on presenting our own set of policies and resisting any involvement in talk of coalitions, This can appear presumptuous for smaller parties such as ours , especially given our position in the polls.”

    Well said Ray – presumptuous in the extreme.

  • Peter Watson 28th Apr '15 - 10:30pm

    @TCO ” The party isn’t theirs; its not my generation’s – it belongs to those in their thirties and twenties and we must trust to their judgement.”
    Their judgement appears to be that the party is far less appealing than it was 5-10 years ago, before it moved in a direction opposed by those you disparage.

  • @Peter Watson and @Stephen Hesketh I suggest we all have much to learn from the wise words of @Matt (Bristol)

  • I agree with you Judy but it’s too late to change now. It would look like desperation . When people think there’s little difference between the two main parties then trying to be in the centre of them is a bit of a tight squeeze.
    I do hope the party has a serious discussion about this after the election whatever it brings but I don’t see why those who want to bring about economic recovery by centrist means can’t become rather more radical about the sort of society they want after recovery.
    Our society is likely to become unstable if it continues to polarise in the way it is. What proportion of the population are we prepared to see owning the same as the top 1000. Will we wait until the majority are in this situation or will we start to take action? History shows us that revolutions happen when there is no hope for most of the population. I have heard several people say that they will vote for the SNP because they offer hope. Personally I don’t know why they think that but I do recognise the need for hope that many people have. I too have a need for hope and that is a hope that our party will be in the forefront of the fight for social justice once again.
    I would also like to respond to TCO’s comment about baby boomers. I was born in 1946 just after the war. I was so entitled that the food I ate as a child was rationed, as were all the baby boomers. We had to deal with parents and their friends and relatives who had been damaged by war. Some fathers woke up screaming in the night because of their experiences. In our teens we had to forge our own way and work out our own moral code which was mostly very different from our parents leading to quarrels and rebellion. One friend had her illegitimate baby taken away from her when she was sixteen.Yes if we were fortunate we bought a house at a reasonable cost but we made our own clothes, made toys for our children and couldn’t afford to have much of a social life. We were lucky in many respects but do not need to have blame stirred up against us by bitter people who cannot function without finding someone else at fault. Oh and I forgot. We fought the feminist fight against men who sneered at us, paid us less than young men and some older women who expected us to stop having a brain once we got married

  • @ Stephen
    “I am unreservedly happy for everyone to live their lives in their way and by their own values provided they do not negatively impact upon the rights of others. Live and let live.”

    Now that is a rallying cry I can get behind. Much better than the patronising and rather bossy, hectoring guff about “hard-working families”, “the many, not the few”, “Alarm Clock Britain”, “workers not shirkers” etc. We may disagree about plenty of things Stephen but not about this.

  • “Messrs Tilley, Hesketh, Evans and Allen – the Four Horsemen of the Electoral Apocalypse”

    Oh gosh, I’ve not been following this thread, sorry John Stephen and David for my failure to ride with you into an orange sunset (praise be)!

    Horsemen? Neigh!

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Apr '15 - 11:43pm

    Sue you raise a good point about the super rich pulling away, but the only solution to this is to increase interest rates and hardly anyone is willing to do it.

    If you increased interest rates from the effective negative rates they are currently at it would pop the asset bubble and incentivise real productivity and investment, rather than an obsession with house prices and the stock market.

    However, because hardly anyone is willing to do this it looks like we will continue to base the economy on house prices and the stock market, with little benefit for the average person.

  • @ Thanks Matt!

    @ Sue S. Well put. I absolutely agree that trying to squeeze between two parties that don’t always sound that different is not the ideal place to be. Is it really too late to change tack – or at least tone? David Cameron is finally showing some (manufactured!) enthusiasm for his own campaign and David Milliband is chatting to Russell Brand, so maybe Nick should take a risk and talk about what Lib Dems really believe in?

    As I said in the article, let’s talk about what we’ve done on mental health and in schools and are promising to do on the environment and green jobs. Potential Lib Dem voters out there don;t want to hear about Labour and the Tories.

    By the way, David Cameron’s latest tax announcement is positively surreal. Apparently the Tories are now saying that, if in Government after 7th May, they will pass a law to prohibit themselves from putting up income tax and National Insurance!

  • @ Sue S. On your substantive point, I absolutely agree there is too much polarisation in society. I like to believe though that the restoration of properly funded public services and fulfilling employment with decent wages is not just a pipe dream. We need to make the case for a Scandinavian-style society grounded in greater social responsibility, co-operation, excellent education (both academic and vocational) and a greater sense of the Common Good..

  • @ Ben Gardner
    “But when you campaign on the basis that Labour are going to ‘destroy the economy’ by spending a few billion more than the Tories you are sending a message to voters that you agree with austerity.”
    “You have a choice how you want to phrase your arguments, what policies you want to push, want tone you want to take when speaking about your rivals. The current campaign appears to the casual observer all about wanting another Tory coalition;”

    I agree. However we haven’t chosen the way the message is phrased. We decided on the policies; the progressive policies that the leadership is not putting front and centre of our message. No political party I believe has managed to take control of the message from their MPs. I once thought we had a constitution which did this, but it is clear that under Nick Clegg’s leadership the leadership is always in control and the members can only decide on the policies but not on the message once they have elected the leader.

    @ TCO
    Do you know that the national debt as a proportion of GDP was higher from about 1750 to 1855 and from 1918 to 1965 than it is today?

  • @ TCO
    “I’m 2 years younger than Clegg and my generation is on the wane. Theirs is already long gone. I can understand their raging at the dying of the light, its only natural. But they need to let go. The party isn’t theirs; its not my generation’s – it belongs to those in their thirties and twenties and we must trust to their judgement.”

    We continue to live longer and have to work longer, it seems odd therefore to dismiss everyone over 50. I wonder what Lloyd George would have said when at 66 he was leading the Liberal Party into the 1929 general election or Gladstone when at 82 he became Prime Minister for the final time?

  • Ed Shepherd 29th Apr '15 - 7:16am

    Centre ground? Middle of the road? The Labour Party and the Conservative party are right wing parties compared to the Labour and Tory Parties of even the Neil Kinnock/John Major era, let alone the parties of the pre-war and post-war decades. In 2015, the centre ground lies somewhere between Respect/Greens/various small “socialist” parties/TUSC and the Labour Party. Far from being left-wing the current Labour Party accepts the status quo and just wants to raise a few different taxes and pay a few different benefits to the Tories. It’s hardly a radical position. But looking at the views expressed by many voters, the rise of the Greens and the power of the SNP, a party that proposed a radical programme of the type Labour implemented in 1945 would pick up a lot of votes. Maybe not enough to win an election but enough to be (like the SNP) a respected force in politics that captures imagination and generates enthusiasm. It might even win a general election in the long run…

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Apr '15 - 8:15am

    Ed if that is the case then why does the public think Farage has the best policies on immigration? Do you think the public want a high tax economy? Judy pretty much said earlier she thinks we were happier in the 70s and seems to have forgotten the difficulties of the IMF bailout and the Winter of Discontent. We can take the best ideas from Scandinavia without saying “let’s go radical and mostly forget about winning elections”. Scandinavian countries didn’t become like they are through people not wanting to win elections.

    The right of the party needs to push back a bit otherwise party discipline is going to collapse.

  • @Eddie Sammon “The right of the party needs to push back a bit otherwise party discipline is going to collapse.”

    Quite.

    When people talk about emulating Scandinavian society they forget the quite significant differences in population density and makeup between them and the UK.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Apr '15 - 8:43am

    Thanks TCO. I’ll stop my protest about the dividend tax and give the party my support again, so everyone let’s pull together?

  • SIMON BANKS 29th Apr '15 - 8:58am

    A party like ours needs inspiration and passion as well as reason and calculation. “Vote for us – we’re not as nasty as the Conservatives or as rash as Labour” completely lacks inspiration and passion. We need to think not only about collecting votes, but about inspiring a new generation of activists. The material to do that is hidden in the detail of the manifesto, except for the focus on mental health.

    The manifesto is very good. If three or four close votes at Glasgow 2014 had gone the other way despite the leadership’s efforts, it would have been excellent.

  • @TCO Yes, but I do think we have quite a lot to learn from the Nordic approach to public services and social inclusiveness – a model that Nicola Sturgeon is keen to emulate in Scotland (which seems to be proving quite popular!). I am half-Danish by the way.

  • @ Simon Banks. Couldn’t have said it better.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Apr '15 - 12:12pm

    Yes John, Blair, Clinton, Merkel and Obama certainly got “run over” when they stood in the centre ground.

    When is last time a progressive won a general election in the UK? or America? What happened to Hollande’s progressive dream? Oh yes, he ditched it after about 18 months and started trying to get businesses and investors on board.

    Unity is better than division.

  • @John Probert those in the middle of the road are on the tarmac going somewhere. Those who veer too far in either direction end up in a ditch or wrapped around a tree.

  • @Judy Abel we need to put the cart before the horse. It is precisely because Scandinavian countries have cohesive societies, due to ethnic and cultural homogeneity and a history of cooperation in the face of climatic adversity, that they have the stability to contract a tax-intensive welfare state with their electorate.

  • And its interesting to note that that contract is increasingly being questioned, as I understand it, as their societies become more diverse

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Apr '15 - 12:31pm

    TCO, I don’t know what “ethnic and cultural homogeneity” has to do with it. Just stick to criticising flawed ideas. Please don’t answer my question on homogeneity.

  • @ Caron Lindsay – there is absolutely nothing democratic about hiding behind a nickname in a democratic society. If peoples work places an absolute ban on political engagement, then so be it. In my case I have to be careful not to comment on certain issues but am free on most things. It goes with the work, I accept it.

    Your defence might, and I only say might, have some legitimacy if those hiding behind a nickname behaved well. As occasional poster I have to say that the majority do not. Their interest is clearly in promoting a certain position or, worse, stirring up trouble, whilst maintaining a cowardly anonymity.

    I notice you sometimes have comment articles for new and infrequent posters. Many such poster comment that their problem with other articles is the nature of some of the debate. I would argue that ending the use of nicknames would improve this. We are not children arguing in a playground.

  • Ed I agree with you about a reforming party like 1945 Labour government inspired by Liberal ideas but I think we shouldn’t go back to Socialism but come up with reform that is appropriate for our current circumstances. If we have no role to play in the next Government that is our opportunity to get our economists and political theorists together and work out how a Liberal Democrat society would really look . Oh and also get the power issue sorted out within the party so that our MPs don’t get totally wrapped up in the Westminster bubble.
    I would love to be a part of the think tank but my brain is muddled by having ME. It could be really exciting.

  • @Eddie Sammon – you might find this alternative take on the Nordic model an interesting read: http://www.cityam.com/article/1394655511/forget-nordic-socialism-welfare-didnt-make-scandinavia-rich

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th Apr '15 - 1:03pm

    Alex Sabine28th Apr ’15 – 11:12pm
    [[@ Stephen “I am unreservedly happy for everyone to live their lives in their way and by their own values provided they do not negatively impact upon the rights of others. Live and let live.”]]

    “Now that is a rallying cry I can get behind. Much better than the patronising and rather bossy, hectoring guff about “hard-working families”, “the many, not the few”, “Alarm Clock Britain”, “workers not shirkers” etc. We may disagree about plenty of things Stephen but not about this.”

    Thank you Alex. He has been called many things, some rightly others wrongly but ‘Cliché Clegg’ is probably one of the most accurate.

    Setting aside the mistakes and attempts at repositioning, and yes, certain sucesses, Nick Clegg’s greatest failing has been to completely undersell Liberal Democracy itself.

  • @Stephen Hesketh in the interests of balance are you able to provide a list of areas where you think Nick Clegg has been successful?

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th Apr '15 - 1:19pm

    TCO29th Apr ’15 – 12:52pm
    “@Eddie Sammon – you might find this alternative take on the Nordic model an interesting read: http://www.cityam.com/article/1394655511/forget-nordic-socialism-welfare-didnt-make-scandinavia-rich

    TCO I will not be entering into any debates with you today but in my humble opinion the above is is why yourself and others who favour unfettered free market captialism are not natural heart and mind British style Liberals. Being economically rich is not the be all and end all of life.

    On a human level, if a society is free and fair, there is much to be said for contentment. On an environmental level, the earth simply can not sustain ever greater populations, economic growth and the amassing of wealth by a minority.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Apr '15 - 1:32pm

    Stephen, I’m with you on the environment, but I just have different solutions. Basically I don’t like the idea of a second industrial revolution, but it doesn’t mean we should panic and pull the plug on everything.

    Best regards

  • @Stephen Hesketh you may be surprised to find that on your point of “Being economically rich is not the be all and end all of life”, I agree with you.

    I posted that article because I think it does everyone good to try and see things from an alternative point of view, and to challenge thinking that is held as self-evident.

    My challenge to you is to think about how you differentiate between economic success and the technological, infrastructural and healthcare benefits that people believe are desirable, and the mechanism by which those developments are initiated, refined, completed, and paid for.

  • @TCO. Actually to be fair I did see a post on the BBC website today by a Swedish expat saying that the welfare state and health services in Sweden are falling apart. Maybe I just remember the golden days of Danish social democracy when my uncle paid 90% tax on the very upper level of his earnings, but my grandmother had a home help for several hours every day.

    We need a new economic model that’s for sure. But when we see people compassionately donating to disasters around the world and raising money for charity through running the London Marathon I believe that, as a species, we are at our best when we are giving – at least those that can afford to. That’s why I find David Cameron’s tax pledges today quite immoral.

  • @ Eddie Sammon
    “Judy pretty much said earlier she thinks we were happier in the 70s and seems to have forgotten the difficulties of the IMF bailout and the Winter of Discontent.”

    I read somewhere that Denis Healey didn’t need to go to the IMF and didn’t call on the entire loan from the IMF because the economy picked up (I am sorry I haven’t a reference for it). The winter of discontent was a factor in Labour losing the 1979 general election, but should central government be blamed for strikes? I remember in the 80s the miners’ strikes and police being bussed round the country to fight miners.

    There were less people unemployed in the 70’s and no government has managed to return the level of unemployment to those of between 1945 and 1977. None of the three main parties have promised to return to managing the economy to achieve the levels of unemployment of that age where inequalities were much less than today.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Apr '15 - 2:22pm

    Michael in a good article here it says Britain took the loan, but didn’t necessarily need it.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/11484844-b565-11df-9af8-00144feabdc0.html

    It doesn’t change the fact that Britain voted Conservative four times on the trot and if people really wanted the Conservatives to lose that much they would have voted for Labour. Conservatives also won the ’51, ’55 and ’59 general election, the list goes on.

    Anyway I have to go and work on other “projects”. It was good engaging with you all.

    Judy, best of luck, even though we disagree. 😀

  • Thank you all for the great debate – and the good wishes Eddie. There will be so much to talk about on 8th May and beyond, but for now it’s back to delivering the leaflets and getting right behind all Lib Dem candidates. I’m going to be a teller for the Lib Dems in Bath on Election Day and plan to help out a bit in Bermondsey too. Bye for now and good luck to all on 7th May!

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th Apr '15 - 4:58pm

    Eddie Sammon29th Apr ’15 – 2:22pm
    “It doesn’t change the fact that Britain voted Conservative four times on the trot and if people really wanted the Conservatives to lose that much they would have voted for Labour. Conservatives also won the ’51, ’55 and ’59 general election, the list goes on. ”

    Eddie, Britain only voted for the Conservatives (or Labour) if you turn a blind eye to the vagaries of FPTP:
    http://www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/uktable.htm

    Labour landslide 1945 = 48.1% of the vote
    Tory landslide 1979 = 43.9% of the vote
    Labour landslide 1997 = 43.2 % of the vote

    In 1951 the Tories were elected on 48% of the vote while Labour lost with 48.8%, similarly when Labour won with 37.2% of the vote in February 1974, the Tories polled 37.8% of the vote.

    Labour was elected on just 35.2% of the vote in 2005!

    Do please reconsider what the nation has actually been voting for and whether FPTP really produces representative government or is as democratic as you appear to believe.

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th Apr '15 - 5:07pm

    TCO29th Apr ’15 – 1:40pm
    “My challenge to you is to think about how you differentiate between economic success and the technological, infrastructural and healthcare benefits that people believe are desirable, and the mechanism by which those developments are initiated, refined, completed, and paid for.”

    Being a mainstream Liberal Democrat, this is very easy for me to do without writing a lengthy original treatise of my own. I will simply cite:

    We will foster a strong and sustainable economy which encourages the necessary wealth creating processes, develops and uses the skills of the people and works to the benefit of all, with a just distribution of the rewards of success. We want to see democracy, participation and the co-operative principle in industry and commerce within a competitive environment in which the state allows the market to operate freely where possible but intervenes where necessary. We will promote scientific research and innovation and will harness technological change to human advantage.

    We will work for a sense of partnership and community in all areas of life. We recognise that the independence of individuals is safeguarded by their personal ownership of property, but that the market alone does not distribute wealth or income fairly. We support the widest possible distribution of wealth and promote the rights of all citizens to social provision and cultural activity. We seek to make public services responsive to the people they serve, to encourage variety and innovation within them and to make them available on equal terms to all.

    My challenge to you is do you subscribe to the same words and values?

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Apr '15 - 5:10pm

    Stephen I will reconsider, but without opening a can of worms the pro STV campaign needs to get better at explaining it or it will be a repeat of the AV referendum.

    Regards

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th Apr '15 - 5:15pm

    Judy Abel29th Apr ’15 – 1:54pm
    “We need a new economic model that’s for sure. But when we see people compassionately donating to disasters around the world and raising money for charity through running the London Marathon I believe that, as a species, we are at our best when we are giving – at least those that can afford to. That’s why I find David Cameron’s tax pledges today quite immoral.”

    Judy, I totally agree with you and would add the words ‘and cooperating’ behind your giving.

    The pendulum has swung far to much in the direction of a competitive economic free for all. Although a humanist, I do believe us to be our brothers and sisters keepers and that it is time for the meek to flex their muscles 🙂

  • @Stephen Hesketh “My challenge to you is do you subscribe to the same words and values?”

    Yes. But that’s an otiose question. Besides the preamble is worded sufficiently ambiguously to be interpreted quite differently on the same point. For example:

    “We seek to make public services responsive to the people they serve, to encourage variety and innovation within them and to make them available on equal terms to all.”

    That to me covers everything from a monolithic NHS to private insurance free at the point of use.

  • And again: “We want to see democracy, participation and the co-operative principle in industry and commerce within a competitive environment in which the state allows the market to operate freely where possible but intervenes where necessary.”

    I can’t see much in there that any mainstream party would disagree with. The real issue is how do you define “where necessary”.

    I’ll try another tack then – where does the money come from that the government spends?

  • @Judy Abel ” I believe that, as a species, we are at our best when we are giving – at least those that can afford to. That’s why I find David Cameron’s tax pledges today quite immoral.”

    I’m not sure I see the link between your first sentence and your second.

  • John Roffey 29th Apr '15 - 6:20pm

    I have read through most of this thread – I don’t think anyone has raised this:

    It is clear that there are two camps – left and right – and there is a danger that the Party will be split in two after the election. It seems to me that in the not too distant future political parties are likely to be adopting the wellbeing or happiness rating to determine the success of their policies. The advantage of this system is that it does not view income as the sole issue when deciding whether a nation’s government have been successful or not.

    It struck me that if the Party adopted this approach – it might be able to draw many more of the existing members together – rather than risking a mass exodus, of one group or another, sometime after 8 May.

    For those who did not see it – this Newsweek article explains how the system works:

    http://www.newsweek.com/whats-worlds-happiest-country-does-it-matter-324448

    What the article shows is that income alone does not make people happy. It is worth looking at the table towards the end of the article that shows the breakdown of the top 50 ‘happiest’ nations and the component elements. The one that stood out for me was Costa Rico at 12th. Happier than the US [15th]: UK[21st]; Germany [26th]; France [29th] and Kuwait [39th] despite having a much lower GDP per capita.

    Could the adoption of such a system help to give Party members a common goal?

  • @ TCO. Because I believe those that can should be paying more in tax not less!!

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th Apr '15 - 7:17pm

    Judy Abel 29th Apr ’15 – 6:24pm
    “Because I believe those that can should be paying more in tax not less!!”

    That Judy is a clear element of Liberal Democracy that some of the members of this party don’t seem to be able to get their heads round. Goodness knows what they will be like in 10 years time 🙂

  • @Judy Abel “Because I believe those that can should be paying more in tax not less!!”

    Your original statement was ” I believe that, as a species, we are at our best when we are giving “. Giving is a concept associated with charity; in other words the donation of time or money without the expectation of anything in return. No one is compelled to give to charity. If I decide not to pop my £5 in the British Legion collection box I’m not going to be arrested.

    Taxation is a totally different concept. The citizens and the state contract with each other that in return for income received from each citizen the state will provide protection and services. The citizens elect representatives to determine how much money should be collected from whom, and at what rate; and on what it should be spent. As a citizen you are compelled by law to pay tax and can be fined or sent to prison for failing to meet your obligations.

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th Apr '15 - 8:01pm

    TCO, you have certainly spent a lot of time on here recently . From what you say about your age you are not retired.
    May I therefore ask are you:
    1) wealthy enough not to have to work?
    2) self employed?
    3) working for one of those crevice free market libertarian groups?
    4) working in the office of a centre-right liberal?
    5) an expletive taking Tory central office worker?

  • 6) none of the above

  • I’m just teasing, Stephen!

    I’m a scion of one of England’s oldest families lending my time to CCO and on an explora-tory raid into enemy territory. I’m off to collect the extortionate rents from the serfs. Pip pip!

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th Apr '15 - 8:56pm

    I’m obviously not in a position to comment on LDV regarding old family connections but just how do you have so much time to post?

    I suffer from the encumbrance of paid employment due to my much reduced circumstances. You appear not to be impeded by any such time constraints.

  • I work for a libertarian think tank if you must know

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th Apr '15 - 9:31pm

    @TCO 29th Apr ’15 – 9:22pm
    “I work for a libertarian think tank if you must know”

    TCO – Tory Central Office is neither libertarian nor a place known for its thinking.

    I look forward to you popping up in your next guise.

    PS Say hello to my cousin Alexander when you next see him – oh you can’t can you – he buggered off to UKIP!

  • @Stephen Hesketh every family has its black sheep!

  • I thought it was interesting that TCO popped up the moment Sara Scarlett vanished, but it’s really none of my business.

  • @David-1 I’m close friends with Sara

  • @ TCO
    “I work for a libertarian think tank if you must know”
    Do you believe the solutions libertarianism offers especially with regard to economics and the size of the state?

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th Apr '15 - 10:34pm

    TCO 29th Apr ’15 – 9:47pm
    @David-1 I’m close friends with Sara

    Actually while bathing, I was contemplating who or what you might really be … and came to the conclusion that you were probably just a Kipper or Labourite on a wind up mission but if you genuinely do move in the circles say, you could be one of any number of crevice Heathrow TTIP-ers.

    As we won’t be communicating again, I do hope you give us a thought next Thursday/Friday 🙁

  • I’m not really clever enough to understand it

  • @SH are you familiar with the concept of Occam’s Razor?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 30th Apr '15 - 7:45am

    @Phil Rimmer: I think there are legitimate reasons for people to use alter egos on the internet, not least the intimidation that some can get, especially women, when they express their views online. We have thought about this very carefully and decided to allow anonymous comments for those reasons.

  • Caron, I recognise all the points you make to Phil Rimmer.

    I would however ask that at some point when we are all a bit less busy than we are now — LDV reconsiders this business of people from outside the party appearing under a pseudonym.

    Liberal Democrats have a proud record of campaigning for openness and transparency and accountability.

    I entirely understand why Mary Ann Evans chose to be known as ‘George Eliot’ — she would not have found a publisher for her books if she had admitted to being a woman.

    Have we not progressed at all since she wrote ‘Trubble at T’Mill ont T’Floss ‘ ?

  • TCO

    I live quite close to Ockham – I know it well

    The principle – in Latin – is sometimes set out as

    entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem

    Roughly translated into English as –
    entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.

    Or perhaps –
    KEEP IT SIMPLE !

  • @John Tilley “Keep it simple!”

    John – I agree (bet you never thought I’d say that!) I was suggesting that perhaps Stephen should apply this principle to his musings.

  • @ Caron Lindsay: a sound argument but one, in the context of this website, with which I have to disagree.

    Do you not find it strange that the majority of you regular ‘posters with no name’ come across, to me at least, as a bunch of testosterone fuelled males who want an argument?

    Why not apply your specific decision on a case by case basis rather than turning it into a counter productive general policy?

  • @Phil Rimmer I don’t think the desire for an argument is restricted to anonymous posters.

  • Phil Rimmer 30th Apr ’15 – 10:27am …………..Do you not find it strange that the majority of you regular ‘posters with no name’ come across, to me at least, as a bunch of testosterone fuelled males who want an argument? ….

    As a ‘no name’ poster in his seventies I thank you for your description…I must keep taking the tablets…

  • Phil Rimmer 30th Apr '15 - 1:36pm

    @ expats: I don’t ever recall noticing your posts I am afraid. However, out of interest, why do you choose anonymity?

  • jedibeeftrix 30th Apr '15 - 2:08pm

    I post pseudonymously because I work with and love technology, and therefore understand how dangerously exposed people are in frankly expressing their views online. Regular posters may recognise that I am careful in not revealing much identifying information about my circumstances.

    I am forthright and brusque (some might say arrogant and abrasive), and I would much rather converse in this way than self censor my views to fit within ‘acceptible’ norms. Personally; in the five years “jedibeeftrix” has existed I have worked in university and local government, so my lack of reflexive “kumbaya” is best disguised.

  • matt (Bristol) 30th Apr '15 - 3:06pm

    I post semi-pseudonymously (ie you can just about work out who I am if you’re clever enough but I hope I’m obscure enough an individual for you not to bother) as the nature of my employment and voluntary work make me uncomfortable being publically identifiable as having a political bias in situations where neutrality is called for; however I have my own opinions and desire to express them somehow, and keep in touch with the life of the party somehow.

    Therefore, like Caron, I recognise the pragmatic value of pseudonyms whilst I also dislike how many people with pseudonyms behave on internet fora.

    It’s also worth noting that many sites with discussion opportunities (eg mumsnet for a start-off) have rules both against trolls and against troll-hunting. Leave identifying the imposters and p*ss-artists to the moderators, or send an anonymous email to the moderator. Don’t do it in the discussion, it disfigures it.

  • Malcolm Todd 30th Apr '15 - 3:08pm

    Personally, I find online anonymity rather annoying, but I think the idea that there’s a significant correlation between anonymity and behaviour akin to “testosterone fuelled males who want an argument” on this site is hard to justify. I’d name names but probably get into trouble for it, so I won’t – but you can probably think of a few who’ve got their dander up and your blood boiling without concealing their names or, in some cases, even their photographs. Whereas, conversely, some anonymous posters (including jedibeeftrix despite his attempt immediately above to portray himself as “arrogant and abrasive”) are consistently reasonable and rational and no more prone to flame-wars than I or, dare I say it, Phil Rimmer.

  • Sara Scarlett 3rd May '15 - 5:43am

    Just found this thread. No, I am not TCO. Although…

    “Perhaps you should practice what you preach. I, for one, am not going to be enslaved by conforming to the narrow definition of what constitutes a “proper Liberal Democrat” that you espouse.”

    Sounds like a friend of mine. Anyone who doesn’t conform to a narrow definitiong of what it means to be a “Libdem” even other people who self-identify as ‘liberals’ on the left and the right are bullied and belittled. It’s how the LibDems cut off their nose to spite their faces.

    So called ‘social liberals’ are so insecure that they worry about Orange Bookers who are actually their allies – the thing they should really be worried about is the distinction between socials liberals and social democrats. Ignore that distinction at your peril!

  • Stephen Hesketh 3rd May '15 - 7:42am

    Sara Scarlett 3rd May ’15 – 5:43am
    “Just found this thread. No, I am not TCO. … … … Sounds like a friend of mine. ”

    Indeed, taken as a whole he sounds not unlike a … personal freedom supporting free market Tory – not too far from the ‘reclaiming liberalism’ target audience.

    Regarding social justice Liberals, I think we are more than capable of distinguishing between those who seek a fairer society and those would would further empower the already rich and powerful over ordinary people.

    I certainly do agree that we ignore that distinction at our peril!

  • Phil Rimmer 30th Apr ’15 – 1:36pm ……@ expats: I don’t ever recall noticing your posts I am afraid. However, out of interest, why do you choose anonymity?…….
    As you’ve never noticed my comments, does it matter what I call myself? Had you noticed me you’d have seen that I have given details of myself….As for choosing anonymity, It’s nothing more sinister than laziness….I post on another, non political, forum and I was given the ‘nickname’ which I continue to use….

  • @Stephen Hesketh

    “Indeed, taken as a whole he sounds not unlike a … personal freedom supporting free market Tory – not too far from the ‘reclaiming liberalism’ target audience.

    Regarding social justice Liberals, I think we are more than capable of distinguishing between those who seek a fairer society and those would would further empower the already rich and powerful over ordinary people.”

    Thank you Stephen you’ve neatly proved my point.

    I’ve no idea who “Sara Scarlet” is; that you readily believed we were friends confirms that you wish to pigeonhole me as something I’m no. t.

    I’m not and never have been, and never will be, a Tory. I’ve fought many elections ( and won one or two) against Tories. I’m an ordinary party member and have met one of the moderators and several members in the flesh. I’ve made common and successful cause with other members of all strands of opinion within the party. The one time I’ve voted anything other than liberal was for labour. I’ve never resigned in a huff; I’ve never refused to support the party through effort or financially; I’ve never stood against it as an independent; and I’ve never public ally agreed with our political opponents. I work in a job that precludes public political anonymity so I remain anonymous.

    Yet despite all this you (and others) label me as something I’m not and attempt to bully me off the board for daring to express opinions that deviate from the narrow and self appointed orthodoxy that you espouse.

    I think your actions speak very loudly about how consistently you apply your supposed liberal values.

  • Test

  • Sara Scarlett 3rd May '15 - 10:03am

    “I think we are more than capable of distinguishing between those who seek a fairer society and those would would further empower the already rich and powerful over ordinary people.”

    Good. Start by cancelling the fundraiser with Hugh Grant…

  • Stephen Hesketh 3rd May '15 - 10:07am

    TCO, immediately above you state “I’ve no idea who “Sara Scarlet” is; that you readily believed we were friends confirms that you wish to pigeonhole me as something I’m no. t.”

    On this very thread you wrote (TCO 29th Apr ’15 – 9:47pm) “I’m close friends with Sara”

    You also state TCO 29th Apr ’15 – 9:22pm “I work for a libertarian think tank if you must know”

    In several posts, in this very thread, you have dismissed everyone born before 1965 and written them off as baby boomers – the entitled generation!

    If you now wish to say that these statements are not true, I will accept in good faith what you say. But if you come on LDV to express untruths, outlandish views and generally wind up mainstream Liberals like myself then don’t be surprised when those of us who care deeply about the mainstream values this party stands don’t roll over in meek acceptance.

    It is not the job of Liberal Democrats to accept ageism, give free reign to those who work for so-called libertarian think tanks and make generally untrue statements. Nor does anything in what you say explain how, as a 40-something year old, you have the time to post all day.

    The narrow and self-appointed orthodoxy I argue and work towards is entirely compatible with the mainstream values of this party.

    For the sake of me not boring or upsetting others with lengthy personal exchanges I will now revert to my previously stated position of not responding to your posts and would ask you not to respond to mine for fear of me being accused of being bullying.

    Some are happy to dole things out but not receive them back in equal measure. Goodbye.

  • @Stephen Hesketh

    I have no wish to prolong this conversation, so in the light of the many comments above said apparently without irony, I will leave you with the words of one of the greatest satirists in the English Language upon which you would do well to reflect:

    “”When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you canmake words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.””

  • A party without a vision is a party with no purpose or need to exist.

    What vision for this country do the Lib Dems present us with.

    1. They’re not Tories or Labour, nothing radical. (No vision there).
    2. Vote for our MPs because they’ve been good MPs in the past, not because they’re Liberal Democrats or for Liberal Democratic polices.
    3. And vote for our candidates that you don’t like because you dislike someone else more.

    Yep, the Lib Dems are toast.

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