Opinion: Why I’m voting Liberal Democrat on 7th May

With less than a month to go until the general election and postal voting starting next week I thought I would write a quick piece on why I’ll be voting Liberal Democrat on the 7th of May.

First of all I think the party shares my values more than any other. I care about public services, but I also care about taxes and being self-employed I don’t like overly burdensome regulation.

I care about both my security and my privacy and feel that I shouldn’t have to choose between one and the other.

I don’t want a party that favours privatisation so much that they are willing to sell assets or contracts on the cheap, or so against it that they are willing to run things inefficiently just so they can say they haven’t used any private firms.

Locally Liberal Democrats become embedded into their communities. Community politics is a fundamentally Liberal Democrat principle.

This is about being practical and also being fair. They aren’t just words, examples of my favourite Liberal Democrat policies are as follows:

  • Raising the income tax free threshold from £6,475 to £10,600 and up to £12,500 by 2020
  • Committed to spending more on the NHS than Labour or the Conservatives so far
  • Increased funding and action to tackle Female Genital Mutilation
  • Helping to create £2.1 million new apprentices, the biggest expansion since the 1950s
  • Reverse auctions for green energy contracts in order to generate energy efficiently
  • Abolishing exclusivity on zero hours contracts
  • Action against ISIS and increasing pressure on Sir John Chilcot to publish the Iraq inquiry
  • Reform the House of Lords to make it more democratic
  • Ended child detention for immigration purposes and introduce exit checks
  • Balance the deficit fairly and pay down the national debt
  • More devolved powers for the nations and regions of the UK
  • Protecting and increasing state pensions

However just as important as above: I’ve been in regular contact with Liberal Democrats over the past few years and I am confident that they always listen to sensible proposals and what matters most to people, even if they don’t get things right all the time.

* Eddie Sammon is a member of the Lib Dems in France and a regular reader of and commenter on Liberal Democrat Voice.

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148 Comments

  • Peter Chegwyn 10th Apr '15 - 1:36pm

    One good reason for voting Lib. Dem. is that our candidates are usually more open and honest with the voters than our opponents. It even extends to telling them where you live.

    I love the ‘Statement of Persons Nominated’ for the Bath constituency. Lib. Dem. Steve Bradley open and honest about where he lives. Conservative, Labour, Green, English Democrat and Independent candidates all refusing to tell the voters where they reside.

    http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/sites/default/files/sitedocuments/Your-Council/Elections/statement_of_persons_nominated_ukpge_-_bath.pdf

    It’s even better in Gosport where local Lib. Dem. Rob Hylands is the only candidate prepared to have his home address appear on the ballot paper.

    I guess there’s many more examples of the same elsewhere.

  • I would vote Liberal Democrat too but I have been living overseas for more than 15 years ( I don’t think there should be a time restriction on overseas voting but that is another matter) Living overseas has given me a much greater awareness of how globalised the world now is and also how the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis is long lasting .

  • I agree with the key principles of liberal democrats and voted for them last time. However I never envisaged them going into partnership with Tories and will not vote for them this time as still possibility they will go back into coalition with Tories again. I have spoken to many friends and most of those who voted liberal democrat will not be doing so for same reason as we are left of centre. We can understand compromise with tuition fees but things like bedroom tax which have been defended by Nick clegg and others has done so much damage. When liberal democrats confirm they are not going into coalition with Tories I may consider voting for them again otherwise I will be voting labour like many others.

  • Jonathan Pile 10th Apr '15 - 9:01pm

    @ Gary
    I know how you feel but that’s why I’m voting Liberal Democrat again this year. My worry is that Nick Clegg is planning ditch our party’s opposition to an in/out EU referendum in the same way he ditched our longstanding opposition to tuition fees as the price of another coalition with the Tories. it ought to be a deal braker. despite this we need a moderate voice in the commons and at the cabinet table as an alternative to UKIP or the SNP smashing up the UK.

  • Philip Thomas 10th Apr '15 - 9:36pm

    The party let tuition fees slip by them in the coalition agreement last time. This time round I think we will be very careful to look at any agreement- first the leadership will be very careful- and then the membership will be very careful – and if it seems that agreement is not an adequate one, it will be rejected. And I do think any deal with the Tories is going to be very difficult to make- there are too many obstacles (Human Rights Act In/Out referendum, £12bn Welfare cuts, etc etc).

    I also think an agreement with the Tories very unlikely unless the 2010 result is substantially repeated: if the coalition loses the number of seats it is projected to lose, it would be an insult to the electorate to try to reform it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Apr '15 - 9:58pm

    Gary Brown

    I agree with the key principles of liberal democrats and voted for them last time. However I never envisaged them going into partnership with Tories

    But when Nick Clegg was asked about coalitions before you voted Liberal Democrat last time, he said (can’t remember the exact words, but something like this) that he would start with the assumption that a coalition would be with whichever of the other parties won more votes. As it happened, there wasn’t even a choice, because there were not enough Labour MPs to form a stable government as a Labour-LibDem coalition.

    My politics are more to the left, so in terms of policies I’d much prefer a Labour-LibDem coalition to a Conservative-LibDem coalition. However, I have always had to accept that if I support multi-party politics, as I do, I have to accept the possibility of a Conservative-LibDem coalition. If only a Labour-LibDem coalition could ever be accepted, then the LibDems have lost any negotiating power in a coalition.

    The portrayal of the Liberal Democrats as “kingmakers” in a no-majority Parliament was always wrong. It just doesn’t work like that, it depends on the number of MPs from other parties, the willingness of the bog parties to form a coalition and so on. The idea that the Liberal Democrats had the luxury of being able to choose which coalition to form and dictate the terms of it was simply wrong. It makes me so angry to see my party attacked so often under the supposition that it “put the Tories in” as if somehow it could have done anything else. What put the Tories in was the people of Britain voting Tory more than any other party, and the distortions of the electoral system which the British people then supported by two-to-one in a referendum a year after the coalition was formed.

    I’ve been very unhappy with the way that Nick Clegg and those around him have used the situation of the coalition to try and push the party to the right, and in particular by how in exaggerating their influence and giving the impression that the compromises we have had to agree to are what we really wanted in the first place, they have made it seem that we are much more right wing than we really are. But that’s another matter – even though the Cleggies deliberately try to confuse the two things, I can draw clear distinction between accepting the reality of this coalition being formed, which I do, and supporting how Clegg has handled it, which I don’t.

  • James Ridgwell 10th Apr '15 - 10:18pm

    Along with such policies as the commitment to electoral/constitutional reform and to not cutting public spending too much on one hand or borrowing too much on the other, a policy I particularly like is our strong commitment to deal with the underlying cause of the UK’s housing crisis (shortage of new housing supply) by aiming to be building 300,000 new homes by 2020. This is significantly higher than the targets of the other main parties, and is backed by analysis on the steps that could help make this a reality in a responsible and sustainable manner (links: http://www.libdems.org.uk/labour_has_no_right_to_lecture_about_housebuilding, http://www.libdems.org.uk/f21_building_the_affordable_homes_we_need). The first link also sets out some of the Coalition’s achievements in this space.

  • Jane Ann Liston 10th Apr '15 - 10:22pm

    Yes, and remember that while Gordon Brown was trying to put together a rainbow coalition, talking to the likes of Ming Campbell and Charles Kennedy, some prominent members of his erstwhile cabinet were telling the media that they didn’t want to go into government and it was time for them to go into opposition. So Labour said ‘no’ to a coalition in 2010.

  • I’m not sure who I’m going to be voting for currently. I was initially firmly against voting Lib Dem because of the policies the party supported as part of the coalition. Then in recent months I’ve seen more to suggest that the true heart of the party is rather more left of centre as I’d presumed pre the last election. And now, most recently, after TTIP pieces etc and discovering groups like Liberal Vision (for example: http://www.liberal-vision.org/2015/03/11/plain-packs-roll-of-honour/) I’m beginning to worry that actually the true face of the party is perhaps more to the right than I can countenance.

  • Jane – if you think this coalition was bad, coalition with Labour in 2010 would have been infinitely worse.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Apr '15 - 10:57pm

    Gary Brown

    We can understand compromise with tuition fees but things like bedroom tax which have been defended by Nick clegg and others has done so much damage.

    There is a desperate shortage of council housing. Every council house occupied by someone who doesn’t need as many bedrooms as it has means a family which does need a house with that many bedrooms is denied it. Why do you think it is fair to subsidise people to live in houses which are bigger than their needs and to deny people who need those houses the possibility of having them?

    The so-called “bedroom tax” was badly executed, I agree. I certainly don’t think anyone should have been forced from their home unless they were first offered decent alternative accommodation of a suitable size. However, it really angers me that this “bedroom tax” is talked about as if it were done for pure vindictiveness, and the other side of the story gets completely ignored. Why is there all this weeping for people who occupy houses bigger than their need and none at all for people who, because of them, don’t even have a house big enough for their needs?

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Apr '15 - 11:02pm

    Lol, thanks Peter, I don’t know if I would put my address down! It does emphasise approachability though.

    Manfarang, I actually think only UK residents should be able to vote, which should include all “foreign citizens”.

    Gary, I struggle with the prospects of another coalition with the Conservatives too. I nearly came to the conclusion that it should be ruled out, but then I focused on why I don’t think Labour are very good either and it relaxed me a bit.

    Philip, good point about being ready to reject any bad coalition deals.

    Matthew, I agree with unease about presenting ourselves as “Kingmakers”.

    James, I thought afterwards I could have mentioned housing, but there were a few areas that I didn’t mention, including education and overseas aid, because I think the party’s policies need amending in these areas.

    Bolano, from my experience, which is not much, the centre-right economic stuff is no more than a significant minority in the party. I actually think these kind of views are going to reduce as electoral realities take priority.

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Apr '15 - 11:34pm

    Bolano

    And now, most recently, after TTIP pieces etc and discovering groups like Liberal Vision (for example: http://www.liberal-vision.org/2015/03/11/plain-packs-roll-of-honour/) I’m beginning to worry that actually the true face of the party is perhaps more to the right than I can countenance.

    There has been a concerted attempt by groups like this to steal the word “liberal” and get it to mean their sort of policies. The word “liberal” never meant that sort of thing in the past (their attempts to distort history and pretend 19th century liberals were all about this ignore so much that they deserve to be treated with contempt), and the Liberal Party of the late 20th century was what was left after all the more right-wing elements of liberalism joined the Tories anyway. For maybe 25 or 30 years after I joined the Liberal Party in the 1970s there was NO significant group within it pushing the idea that what the Liberal Party should be about is what we used to call “Thatcherism” i.e. obsession with free market economics and the belief that putting everything out to a cash market is the solution to everything. Indeed, it was written into our party’s statement of aims and objectives that we believed in building a society where “none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”, these words making it clear that, unlike those now trying to relabel extreme Thatcherism as “liberalism”, we did NOT see the state and its legislation and taxation as the only barrier or even the main barrier to freedom.

    I don’t quite know when these sort of people got started and tried to infiltrate into the Liberal Democrats, although some would put the publication of the Orange Book in 2004 as the start of it. I think the number of actual members of the party who think that way is still very tiny. However, they have influence beyond their numbers mainly because they have a lot of big money backing them, and because that big money has the contacts and influence to be able to work at the top before us ordinary members even know about it.

    In 1988 when the Liberal Party and the SDP merged, the Liberal Party was seen as more to the left of the SDP economically. The SDP and right-wingers in the Liberal Party (as it was in those days – they would not be seen as right-wingers now, indeed those remaining are now often allies with us who were always on the left of the Liberal Party against the Thatcherite infiltrators) wanted to play down the word “Liberal” because of the left-wing connotations it had in those days, that is why they insisted the new party had the cumbersome name “Social and Liberal Democrats” so that “Liberal” did not come first, and tried to push it just being called “Democrats”.

    So, it seems to me, the Thatcherites just waited long enough until people had forgotten all that, and then made their attempt to steal the word “Liberal” and get it to mean them. They want to steal that word to give themselves a fake credibility, to make out that their ideology has more depth and historical support than is the case in reality. Then they had the great fortune that the Parliamentary balance after the 2010 general election forced this coalition on us, and they were able to use that to push the party rightwards. We can see that in the way what were compromises have been pushed as if they were our ideals, and in the way they are now running our party’s campaign attacking the Labor Party as if it were some sort of left-wing extremist party, rather than the reality of it being an extremely timid centrist party, quite a long way to the right of where the Labour Party used to be.

    Still, I do not think they are the true face of the party, and I hope after the damage they have done to us, the membership will rise and get rid of them, push them back to the fringes where they used to be.

  • Eddie Sammon
    Are you stuck in the 1950s? Servants of the Crown and those in the Military Se4rvices who are abroad get he vote as do Merchant Seamen (not that there are many of them now) Many countries give their citizens who live overseas the vote, it being seen that they are full democracies.
    I wonder where South Korea will be in the next decade. A center of innovation and high technology? Not Britain that’s for sure.

  • Philip Thomas 11th Apr '15 - 4:29am

    @Matthew Huntbatch
    A cogent and helpful analysis. I admit I am sometimes seduced by Thatcherite rhetoric, particularly the use of the magic words “free trade” (which seems to have changed in meaning since the Corn Laws were repealed).
    As for attacking the Labour party, I don’t think it should be a priority this election (as I have said many times) but insofar as we have to do it to keep seats like Bermondsey, we should attack them for being authoritarians who want to roll back the welfare state and curb immigration while simultaneously borrowing £70bn extra of public money (I have no idea what they’re doing with it!)

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr '15 - 6:36am

    “There has been a concerted attempt by groups like this to steal the word “liberal” and get it to mean their sort of policies. The word “liberal” never meant that sort of thing in the past (their attempts to distort history and pretend 19th century liberals were all about this ignore so much that they deserve to be treated with contempt)”

    This is disgusting. So you admit you treat some memebers of your own party with contempt? Nice… There may be many facets of Liberalism – all deserve to be represented within a “Liberal” party. Liberal Vision is not Thatcherite/Neoliberal but Classicially/Economically Liberal. If you’d ever spent any length of time actually reading the blog you’d know that. We are blatantly not obssessed with “free market economics and the belief that putting everything out to a cash market is the solution to everything.” They are different things. That’s why they have different names as was explained to you on the other thread. The link you and Bolano cite does not even relate directly to economics. You don’t even fall down on the Liberal side of the fence on matters of social freedom.

    You’re accusing Classical Liberals of changing the meaning of Liberalism to suit ourselves – I would accuse you of doing the exact same thing. Further more your rhetoric is aggressive and divisive. Why not try being inclusive and welcoming? Why not try being a little more secure and less threatened? After all, what gets you elected is being a broad church not a nasty little clique.

  • @Sara Scarlett 11th Apr ’15 – 6:36am

    “Liberal Vision is not Thatcherite/Neoliberal but Classicially/Economically Liberal. If you’d ever spent any length of time actually reading the blog you’d know that.”

    Okay, the first line my eyes hit upon was –

    “UKIP continue to look like the most liberal party in Westminster.”

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr '15 - 6:53am

    Okay, the first line my eyes hit upon was – “UKIP continue to look like the most liberal party in Westminster.”

    A commentary on the dire state of the UK’s political parties, methinks!

  • I find it odd that Ms Scarlett claims not to be in favour of neoliberal laissez faire corporatism, yet the cause célèbre taken up by Liberal Vision in recent months is the right of tobacco companies to freely flog their toxic product in packaging attractive to young people. That is nothing more than asserting that corporations are more important than ordinary people, and that wealth ought to confer legal and moral irresponsibility.

  • Philip Thomas 11th Apr '15 - 7:22am

    @Sara Scarlett
    I think if “Liberal” Vision are promoting the cause of UKIP then condemning them can hardly be said to be a betrayal of our party values.

    UKIP, the party that wants to end Freedom of Movement (which is, as I understand it, a tenet of economic liberalism) the most liberal party in the UK!

  • @Sara Scarlett 11th Apr ’15 – 6:53am

    Thanks for clearing that one up.

    Another bit I couldn’t understand. Liberal Vision appears to hold similar views on tobacco to the Institute of Economic Affairs (I couldn’t help noticing that the person in charge of the IEA was one of the founders of Liberal Vision) – are there any differences in opinion on tobacco between the two?

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr '15 - 7:47am

    “I find it odd that Ms Scarlett claims not to be in favour of neoliberal laissez faire corporatism, yet the cause célèbre taken up by Liberal Vision in recent months is the right of tobacco companies to freely flog their toxic product in packaging attractive to young people.”

    I believe that young people aren’t stupid. They also have the freedom *not* to buy cigarettes no matter how fancy the packaging… I don’t know why you think individuals are in some way coerced into buying cigarettes? Marketing isn’t coercion. Nobody is holding a gun to anybody’s head and forcing them to buy cigarettes.

    “- are there any differences in opinion on tobacco between the two?”

    I have no idea. Why don’t you go on the IEA’s website and take a look for yourself?

  • Philip Thomas 11th Apr '15 - 7:54am

    I don’t really have strong views on cigarette packaging. Nor have I checked to see whether this is really Liberal Vision’s cause célèbre

    But if it is, then I am puzzled, because (whether for or against) it seems pretty low down the list of liberal priorities to me (if it makes the cut at all).

  • @Matthew Huntbach 10th Apr ’15 – 11:34pm

    Thanks for the reply. Your reply reassures me to some extent. Equally, the CVs of those at Liberal Vision, appearing to blend in equal part opportunities working for people like Norman Lamb and Ming Campbell alongside engagements with organisations like the Institute for Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute make for interesting reading. Particularly as I’m under the impression that the IEA receives substantial funding from tobacco companies .

    I must admit that currently I’m trying to make sense of all these organisations that seem curiously interlinked – Liberal Vision, Progressive Vision, CentreForum, Liberal Future, IEA, Adam Smith Institute and so on, and so on. You can track an individual from one to another, to another – and then you suddenly find yourself somewhere else entirely, in some organisation that had Thatcher as a patron! I am curious that when members of Liberal Vision write articles here at LDV it isn’t always apparent that they are members of Liberal Vision.

  • @Sara Scarlett 11th Apr ’15 – 7:47am
    ‘“- are there any differences in opinion on tobacco between the two?”’

    “I have no idea. Why don’t you go on the IEA’s website and take a look for yourself?”

    I find it interesting that you have no idea – aren’t you a director of Liberal Vision while also describing yourself as having “worked alongside organisations such as Students For Liberty and the Institute of Economic Affairs”? I would have thought this would have meant you were almost uniquely well-qualified to know both organisations’ views on a subject so close to their hearts.

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr '15 - 8:14am

    “aren’t you a director of Liberal Vision”

    Nope. I am a former contributor to Liberal Vision. The website is out-of-date. I haven’t worked besides SFL or the IEA for about three-to-four years and even then it was only in an informal capacity. I have a proper job in the private sector now but, sadly, nothing better to do on Saturday morning… I generally know what the gist of their views are but what you want is for me to say they’re the same – then you’ll create some tenuous link between myself and Margaret Thatcher and/or Tobacco companies. Blah, blah, blah…

    “Nor have I checked to see whether this is really Liberal Vision’s cause célèbre”

    It isn’t.

  • Stephen Hesketh 11th Apr '15 - 8:19am

    Matthew Huntbach 10th Apr ’15 – 11:34pm
    In reply to Bolano “There has been a concerted attempt by groups like this to steal the word “liberal” and get it to mean their sort of policies. The word “liberal” never meant that sort of thing in the past (their attempts to distort history and pretend 19th century liberals were all about this ignore so much that they deserve to be treated with contempt)”

    Sara Scarlett 11th Apr ’15 – 6:36am
    “This is disgusting”

    You may think so Sara but it is nonetheless true.

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr '15 - 8:20am

    “We are now seen as a party of right-wing economics”

    Bahahahaha! Nope, you’re seen as a band of tragic, illiberal, confused lefties. If you don’t realise that then you also lack self-awareness.

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr '15 - 8:27am

    Simon Hesketh – ““This is disgusting”
    You may think so Sara but it is nonetheless true.””

    That people deserve to be treated with contempt? Surely you don’t mean that?

    I agree that 19th century Liberals were not neoliberals – but they were classical liberals. 19th century Liberals were classical liberals whether you like it or not. Obviously the picture is much more complicated – a slave has both his lifestyle freedoms and his economic freedoms taken aware and since there was less of both freedoms those two concepts are more intertwined. But there is no getting around the fact that Liberals in the 1800s were classical liberals.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Apr '15 - 8:30am

    Sara Scarlett

    Bahahahaha! Nope, you’re seen as a band of tragic, illiberal, confused lefties. If you don’t realise that then you also lack self-awareness

    You are proving my point. You have no tolerance for anyone who does not agree with your interpretation of liberalism, you are just what you accuse me of.

  • Philip Thomas 11th Apr '15 - 8:45am

    Sara Scarlett’s use of “you” to describe us pretty much blows away her “members of your own party” line…

    Meanwhile her continued belief that classical liberals would support UKIP, when 19th century Liberals considered the Ottoman Empire backwards for even having passports, is simply bizarre.

    @Matthew Popular perception varies, as far as I can tell when canvassing. I am not sure that many of the electorate would recognise “right-wing economics” when they saw it. I did have an interesting discussion about TTIP with one voter- who clearly thought that our policy was more supportive than I was admitting (I said we’d supported negotiations but would make up our mind when published). The sense that we are lefties is perhaps reflected in a fear among soft cons of a coalition with Labour.

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr '15 - 8:47am

    “You have no tolerance for anyone who does not agree with your interpretation of liberalism”

    Incorrect. I would be a lot happier with LibDems even if they disagreed with me on economic policy (I’m happy to admit I don’t hold mainstream views) if they were liberal l in terms of lifestyle and social freedoms which you have repeatedly expressed that you are not.

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr '15 - 8:48am

    “Meanwhile her continued belief that classical liberals would support UKIP, when 19th century Liberals considered the Ottoman Empire backwards for even having passports, is simply bizarre.”

    When did I ever say that classical liberals would support UKIP? I have never said that and I do not think that.

  • Philip Thomas 11th Apr '15 - 8:52am

    I was simply extrapolating from your apparent beliefs a) that Liberal Vision practises classical liberalism and b) that Liberal Vision is correct to say UKIP is the most Liberal party in British politics.

    If you do condemn UKIP’s stance on Freedom of Movement, you are welcome to say so.

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr ’15 – 8:20am………….Bahahahaha! Nope, you’re seen as a band of tragic, illiberal, confused lefties. If you don’t realise that then you also lack self-awareness……………

    So that’s why all us ‘lefties’ have deserted the “New Improved” party…..I must have dreamed the last 5 years.

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr '15 - 8:59am

    “I was simply extrapolating from your apparent beliefs a) that Liberal Vision practises classical liberalism and b) that Liberal Vision is correct to say UKIP is the most Liberal party in British politics.”

    You were ‘extrapolating’ [reading into] comments [taken out of context] from a blog post [not written by me] that says on the single issue of plain packaging, the two UKIP MPs, voted in a liberal way.

    “If you do condemn UKIP’s stance on Freedom of Movement, you are welcome to say so.”

    I do condemn UKIP’s stance on Freedom of Movement. I didn’t think I had to say so because I didn’t think agreeing with UKIP on the single issue of plain packaging made me anti-freedom-of-moment. I actually despise UKIP. They’re small-c conservative Little-England in party form. But even a stopped clock is right twice a day…

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr '15 - 9:02am

    “So that’s why all us ‘lefties’ have deserted the “New Improved” party”

    The LibDems currently don’t really stand anything. Nick Clegg’s LibDems are against everything bad and for everything good. What you are and how you’re seen are not the same things but both are still naff.

  • Philip Thomas 11th Apr '15 - 9:02am

    “Okay, the first line my eyes hit upon was – “UKIP continue to look like the most liberal party in Westminster.”

    A commentary on the dire state of the UK’s political parties, methinks!”

    I was extrapolating from this (I didn’t read the original blog post). But I’m glad you aren’t pro-UKIP.

  • Sara Scarlett 11th Apr ’15 – 9:02am . Nick Clegg’s LibDems are against everything bad and for everything good. …….

    Strangely, I don’t know anyone who isn’t. It’s only the definition of “god” and “bad” that varies..

  • for ‘god’ read ‘good’

  • Ukippers are protectionist by instinct, there is nothing liberal about them.Most of them are living in the past.

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Apr '15 - 10:54am

    Hi Manfarang. Those working for the crown are different, but I don’t like the idea of people having the vote in two different countries. It is not one person one vote.

    I know France has created a constituency for expats and it is why Hollande visited London before he was elected president, but generally I don’t think it is a good idea.

    Regards

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Apr '15 - 11:35am

    Sara Scarlett

    Incorrect. I would be a lot happier with LibDems even if they disagreed with me on economic policy (I’m happy to admit I don’t hold mainstream views) if they were liberal l in terms of lifestyle and social freedoms which you have repeatedly expressed that you are not.

    Sorry, but where have I ever said I wish to restrict people’s social freedom or their choice in lifestyle? You say I have done this “repeatedly”. What do you mean by that?

    If what you actually mean is that I accept the case for higher taxation and a more active state than you do, it is because I believe the net effect of that is to enhance people’s freedoms, not reduce them.

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Apr ’15 – 10:54am ………I know France has created a constituency for expats and it is why Hollande visited London before he was elected president, but generally I don’t think it is a good idea.

    As a returned ex-pat (I voted when abroad) I believe it is important that those in my position continue to have the right….Most of us have children and other family members resident in the UK and receive both government and private UK pensions. Why should I not have a say in choosing a government that will affect “me and mine”?

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Apr '15 - 11:52am

    Hi expats. I suppose pensions are another problem and I know there has been controversy with how expat pensioners are being treated. It is a difficult issue.

    We should have another discussion about expat voting one day and also new residents.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Apr '15 - 12:00pm

    Philip Thomas

    @Matthew Popular perception varies, as far as I can tell when canvassing. I am not sure that many of the electorate would recognise “right-wing economics” when they saw it.

    A very common belief I find now is that all mainstream politicians are only interested in the rich, are all members of a wealthy elite, and that is all they care for. So, yes, there is now a strong tendency to think that all politicians are into right-wing economics, because that is what people mean when they say they are only interested in the rich.

    Of course, if you ask people what sort of policies they want, they will be agree that they want better public services and a reversal of all the cuts that have taken place over the years, and they will also say they don’t want tax rises. So, the left will say that means they support the left and the right say the means they support the right. However, I think part of the issue is that few people can correctly make the balance between taxation and government services, and so don’t see that one is necessary for the other. I put this partly down to the timidity and patronising nature of the left in not being more honest about it, and partly down to the propaganda strength of the right which has pushed out the anti-tax message without spelling out the consequences, directly, and through its mouthpieces in the newspapers, and through the many pressure groups it funds to push out that message. We are seeing it today in the Conservatives’ sudden promise to spend £8 billion more on the NHS, but in the small print all raised by “efficiency savings”. Well, that’s like what they said when they “re-organised” the NHS recently, fondly supposing that a more market driven approach would make savings when now almost everyone involved says it has done the opposite – huge costs in just managing the reorganisation, more bureaucracy in what results, and no real savings made underneath. To me, the idea that there an infinite amount of efficiency savings that can be made, so increased need can always be met that way is nonsense. The maddest thing is when the “efficiency savings” turn out to be just reversing what were supposed to be “efficiency savings” policies previously.

    Because we have lost straight-talking politicians of the left, people don’t even have the vocabulary to talk about these things these days. That is what I mean by “Orwellian”, it is what Orwell wrote about in his book, 1984. Change the language, make a word mean something different to what it used to mean, and you can stop people even being able to think about what that word used to mean.

    I think that is why people now are easy prey to simplistic snake-oil salesmen in politics, like UKIP, the SNP and the Green Party.

  • @Sara Scarlett 11th Apr ’15 – 8:14am

    ‘“aren’t you a director of Liberal Vision”’

    “Nope. I am a former contributor to Liberal Vision. The website is out-of-date.”

    My apologies – I’d presumed you were due to a credit on one of your articles here at LDV:

    “Sara Scarlett is a member from Surrey Heath constituency where she is the Youth Officer of Surrey Heath Liberal Democrats. She is also Secretary of Royal Holloway Liberal Youth and Director of Development for Liberal Vision.”

    Can’t trust anything you read these days! Although I see you’ve now suddenly vanished from the Liberal Vision staff – so at least they’re getting their website up-to-date now!

  • Ewen Simpson 11th Apr '15 - 2:24pm

    The key issue for me is HS2. I know many LibDem candidates & members are against, but the Party Leadership still will not change its view. I could list all the bodies that have come out against it, the I.E.A for example, but in many polls conducted the average vote against HS2 is 85% a staggering high proportion of the public. Anyone who is so besotted by HS2 is not studying the arguments against. In my view HS2 is a solution for a problem that does not exist. Connectivity is the issue as is Commuter travel, both of which will be exacerbated by HS2. A small point, HS2 Ltd claim that they can shave 20mins of London to Manchester travel time – is it worth £50b to save 20 mins?

  • @ Matthew Huntbach

    “I don’t quite know when these sort of people got started and tried to infiltrate into the Liberal Democrats”

    The Conservative party changed under Thatcher. If you were a not a social conservative you might have decided that the Conservative party could not be your home. If you strongly supported membership of the EU you might have decided that the Conservative party could not be your home. Therefore after about 1992 you might convince yourself that the Liberal Democrats would welcome people who believed in free markets as an aim in itself while they shared your views on the EU and personal liberty.

    It is my hope that the Conservative party will one day be a pro-EU party and those who oppose EU membership will have left for UKIP, and that they accept the reforms in personal freedomss, so that those people who would have joined the Conservatives in the 1970’s who instead joined the Liberal Democrats can leave and join the Conservative Party.

    @ Sara Scarlett
    “But there is no getting around the fact that Liberals in the 1800s were classical liberals.”

    Do you know that the Liberal party was not founded until 1859?

    Liberalism is concerned with outcomes not methods and that is why “classical liberals” were not what we call “economic liberals” today. In the nineteenth century Liberals pursued policies to reduce the power of elites and this just happened to mean they supported free trade, but they didn’t support unregulated markets and they supported local government taking over many social and economic activities.

  • @Philip Thomas 11th Apr ’15 – 9:02am

    That said, nothing I’ve found on Liberal Vision is as stone cold barmy as some of the Libertarian Blogs they recommend/link to: “I am of the belief that state employees and those dependent on the State should not get the vote. Why? They are paid by the State and as such are influenced in their voting preferences by policy in regard to the size of the State, decisions as to expansion or cuts in State services and departments. “

  • Bolano 11th Apr ’15 – 2:58pm

    @Philip Thomas 11th Apr ’15 – 9:02am………That said, nothing I’ve found on Liberal Vision is as stone cold barmy as some of the Libertarian Blogs they recommend/link to: “I am of the belief that state employees and those dependent on the State should not get the vote. Why? They are paid by the State and as such are influenced in their voting preferences by policy in regard to the size of the State, decisions as to expansion or cuts in State services and departments. “……

    No stranger than the poster here who demands that not just the NHS but the police and military should also be privatised….

  • @Philip Thomas 11th Apr ’15 – 7:54am

    “I don’t really have strong views on cigarette packaging. Nor have I checked to see whether this is really Liberal Vision’s cause célèbre”

    6 out of the last 10 blogs there. LV is pretty obsessed about it – and there are some extraordinary quotes which you’ll have to find for yourself (I tried posting them but was mod’d out).

  • @expats 11th Apr ’15 – 3:23pm

    You’re right. I’d forgotten that one.

  • Philip Thomas 11th Apr '15 - 3:52pm

    @Michael BG
    “The Conservative party changed under Thatcher. If you were a not a social conservative you might have decided that the Conservative party could not be your home. If you strongly supported membership of the EU you might have decided that the Conservative party could not be your home. Therefore after about 1992 you might convince yourself that the Liberal Democrats would welcome people who believed in free markets as an aim in itself while they shared your views on the EU and personal liberty.

    .”

    The Conservative party was (in actions) pro-EU during Thatcher’s premiership and indeed Major’s premiership- those governments passed the EU legislation the present Conservative is trying to undo. Thatcher became anti-European but she was ousted partly because of that- and her most extreme views were articulated when no longer in power.
    The Conservatives then swung right under Hague. But there was still an opportunity for the Pro-European Ken Clarke to be leader in 2002. After that, the anti-Europeans were in the driving seat.

    I have good reason to believe that narrative, because I left the Conservative Party (which I had only very recently become a member of) when Iain Duncan Smith became leader. Still, it is one perspective.

    “It is my hope that the Conservative party will one day be a pro-EU party and those who oppose EU membership will have left for UKIP, and that they accept the reforms in personal freedoms, so that those people who would have joined the Conservatives in the 1970’s who instead joined the Liberal Democrats can leave and join the Conservative Party”

    Up to the word “freedoms” I agree with you. I would continue the sentence “so that they can be an equally worthy coalition partner alternative to Labour for us”.

    Because, although I was a Conservative once, I very much doubt I would rejoin the party. I was always on the left of the party. It has moved to the right as I have moved to the left- even if it returned to its old position, I would still be to far left for it.

  • Eddie Sammon
    The only country that gives all its residents the vote is New Zealand. EU countries give those from member states the vote in local and European elections. Many Commonwealth citizens get the vote in UK elections if they are resident in Britain. The Irish get the vote if they are living in the UK. Not many British citizens who live overseas and are entitled to an overseas vote exercise their right to vote.

  • @ Philip Thomas

    In the 1980’s I believe that if you wanted more personal freedom for certain groups within society you would have rejected the Conservative party, not because all of its members rejected your position but that it was becoming clearer they were losing the argument and were in a diminishing minority. The anti-EU position within the Conservative party grew under Thatcher and by the time of Maastricht I believe it was clear they were going to take over.

    In 2001 Ken Clerk managed to only get about a third of the membership vote and about 36% of the MPs. In 1997 he obtained about 44% of the MPs and I don’t think he would have obtained 44% of the membership vote. Therefore I still think that before 1997 it was clear that the majority in the Conservative party was anti-EU.

    My unstated assumptions are that the person who joined the Liberal Democrats is an “economic liberal” and not a liberal in the British Liberal tradition and they haven’t changed their views while a member of the party (as some people do).

  • Philip Thomas 11th Apr '15 - 4:50pm

    Fair enough. I was only 8 years old when the 1980s ended so my experience of personal freedom under Thatcher was limited. But it was a Conservative government that passed the Maastricht Treaty (and earlier, the Single European Act). Conservative rhetoric was more anti-European than Conservative actions, and so those on the left of the party (and that was the tradition I was brought up in, though I did not become a member until I was 18) continued to harbour the illusion that we were really pro-European. The illusion continues to be dispelled even now- I canvassed someone the other day who said he’d always voted Conservative but now they were anti-European he couldn’t support them any more…

    I am now an “economic liberal”: my conversion to full blown Freedom of Movement has been part of my drift to the left alluded to above. But perhaps you meant “neoliberal”…

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Apr '15 - 7:26pm

    Michael BG

    The Conservative party changed under Thatcher. If you were a not a social conservative you might have decided that the Conservative party could not be your home

    I’d say the opposite. Although there were social conservative aspects to Thatcherism as it was back then, the move she initiated to the Conservative party being primarily about extreme free market economics meant and end to it being a party of small-c conservatism.

    What does “conservatism” mean? It means keeping things the same. What has been the driving force in the huge changes we have faced in British society since 1980? Extreme free market economics. The policies the Conservative Party has pushed have been hugely destructive of British traditions, the way society was run here, how people used to be, the certainties that people used to have. Far from keeping anything the same, the Conservatives would rather see it smashed to bits if it helped big business.

  • Philip Thomas 11th Apr '15 - 7:56pm

    Oh, yes- my small ‘c’ conservatism is one reason I support keeping Human Rights and staying in the EU, for example. Although, perhaps not a very big reason.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Apr '15 - 9:41pm

    Philip Thomas

    The sense that we are lefties is perhaps reflected in a fear among soft cons of a coalition with Labour.

    Opinion polls, even now when we have lost so much of our support that was more to the political left, consistently say that given a choice (and, as I have said, we weren’t in 2010), more of our supporters would prefer a coalition with the Labour Party than with the Conservatives.

    If it is the position at the top of our party that we must now orient ourselves to attract “soft cons” (not sure if that includes people like Sara Scarlett), well, how am I supposed to feel when I joined the party in the 1970s, one of the main reasons being that I saw it as a more effective opposition to the Conservative Party then than Labour was? If you are saying the Conservative Party has now moved to the right, so the Liberal Democrats are now the party that stands for what the Conservatives stood for in the 1970s, then you are saying I am in a party which stands for what I joined its predecessor to oppose.

  • Philip Thomas 11th Apr '15 - 10:06pm

    Matthew: I am in no sense of the words at the top of the party. If there is an organisational chart on the party wall, I’m somewhere below the coffee stain on the carpet.
    I was simply addressing your point about voter perception of us as right-wing: it depends on perspective. Sara Scarlett is not a soft Con, she’s voting Con for sure.
    The whole of politics has shifted to the right since the 1970s. Take immigration and citizenship, the thing I care most about. In the 1970s a native of the United Kingdom (meaning someone born on UK soil) was a British Citizen. In 1981, right-wing bigots passed an Act that excludes some UK natives from their birthright. (It came into force just after I was born).
    Today, to even suggest that all people born in the United Kingdom should be British Citizens is loony left wing radicalism (one of the few areas in which I am a radical, although I suppose as I want to return to the 70s, technically I am a reactionary). Liberal Democrat official party policy certainly doesn’t admit it.

    So yes, the Lib Dems have moved to the right. But what can we do except stay in the party and fight for left-wing ideals?

  • Philip Thomas 11th Apr '15 - 10:10pm

    Different angle on the above (currently in moderation)- I am just a footsoldier but the party line has been to attack the Tories, so they don’t seem to be reassuring those soft cons who fear we will ally with Labour. I don’t know enough about 70s policies, I remember the Tories were pro-EU and Labour split- position reversed today. But I think Liberals were pro-EU even then?

  • @ Bolano and Sara Scarlett

    Liberal Vision – “UKIP continue to look like the most liberal party in Westminster.”

    The reason Liberal Vision writes this is because they don’t understand the difference between liberalism and libertarianism. Their site should be called Libertarian Vision.

    @ Philip Thomas
    ‘I am now an “economic liberal”’

    I am not sure this is true. How do you define what you believe as “economic liberal”? What limits do you put on what the government should do?

    @ Matthew Huntsbach

    I think you misunderstood what I had phrased badly. I didn’t mean that someone had to be a social conservative to be in the Thatcherite Conservative Party. I was trying to say if you opposed social conservatism and wanted more personal liberty you might decide that the Conservative party was not a home for you. This is why “economic liberals” who believe in personal liberty might feel they wouldn’t feel at home in the Conservative Party.

  • Phillip Thomas
    There was a lot of freedom under Thatcher in the early 1980s. Freedom to be unemployed but best of all was the bucket shops where cheap airline tickets were available giving the freedom to leave the UK.

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 8:53am

    @Bolano

    “I am not sure this is true. How do you define what you believe as “economic liberal”? What limits do you put on what the government should do?”

    I’m just going by what I read in Wikipedia. You can look it up too. Please read the “neoliberal” article for comparison…
    I think Government interference in people’s lives should be the minimum necessary for a fair society- this turns out to be quite a lot of interference (Health service, education, police, armed forces, social security safety net, international aid, tax to pay for those things, etc etc). I believe the balance is very roughly right at the moment in most areas (immigration control being an obvious exception). Hence I am generally opposed to extensions of government interference (nationalisation of currently private industries, for example) or to reductions in the government influence (privatisation of currently nationalised industries, for example). Small ‘c’ conservatism plays a part in that view.

  • Stephen Hesketh 12th Apr '15 - 10:24am

    Philip Thomas, you clearly believe in economic competence but this is far from making you an economic liberal. Your views are definitely more mainstream Liberal than that.

    Setting aside the misappropriation of the Liberal name by those economic neo-Conservatives who sail beneath the ‘economic liberal’ flag, these people are essentially multi national Corporatists who hang out together in crevices such as Liberal Vision etc as listed by Bolano above [11th Apr ’15 – 8:00am] and who pump out unequivocal support for TTIP before we have seen the proposed treaty, support everything tobacco companies believe, support expansion of Heathrow and anything which aids the concentration of wealth and power in the south east etc.

    From what you write, this does not sound like you an alternative manifesto you would subscribe to.

  • Sara Scarlett 12th Apr '15 - 10:40am

    “UKIP continue to look like the most liberal party in Westminster. The reason Liberal Vision writes this is because they don’t understand the difference between liberalism and libertarianism .”

    Everyone has read a lot into this one sentence. In it’s original context it refers specifically to the vote on the single issue of plain packaging only. You are uncharitably misinterpreting it to make a straw man of it.

    “Do you know that the Liberal party was not founded until 1859? ”

    Yes, I did know this. Liberal philosophy pre-dates the Liberal Party. Most Liberals around the world in the 1800s were classical (social as well as economic liberals) and the Party, in it’s formative years, leaned heavily this way. We could argue the precise degree of their support for free-trade until the cows come home but the fact is that they suported it. Type “liberalism in the 1800s” into Google and the first article that comes up is entitled ‘Classical Liberalism.’

    “Sara Scarlett is not a soft Con, she’s voting Con for sure.”

    I’m not a Con of any sort but I am voting Con to protest the disgusting way the Libs have behaved in the Coalition, the way the Libs have dealt with bullying and harrassment within the party, and because the other choices are even more dire.

  • @Michael BG 11th Apr ’15 – 10:37pm

    “The reason Liberal Vision writes this is because they don’t understand the difference between liberalism and libertarianism. Their site should be called Libertarian Vision.”

    I think they do – on that site Sara Scarlett describes herself as “Classical Liberal/Contemporary Libertarian”; here it’s “Classical Liberal”.

    I think the difference is clearly understood; I think the failure to acknowledge libertarian here is not accidental.

  • @Sara Scarlett 12th Apr ’15 – 10:40am

    ‘“UKIP continue to look like the most liberal party in Westminster. The reason Liberal Vision writes this is because they don’t understand the difference between liberalism and libertarianism .”

    Everyone has read a lot into this one sentence. In it’s original context it refers specifically to the vote on the single issue of plain packaging only. ‘

    “continue” “continue” “continue” “continue” “continue” “continue”

  • Stephen Hesketh 12th Apr '15 - 11:02am

    Sara Scarlett 12th Apr ’15 – 10:40am
    “I’m not a Con of any sort but I am voting Con to protest the disgusting way the Libs have behaved in the Coalition …”

    Sara, “the disgusting way the Libs have behaved in the Coalition” is even stronger than I would ever put it!

    It would be interesting to know what someone from your perspective sees as the party’s failings in coalition with the Tories.

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 11:05am

    @Sara Scarlett “I’m voting Con to protest the disgusting way the Libs have behaved in the coalition”
    LOL.

    Would a real “economic liberal”- one who is still in the party and doesn’t arrive at what economic liberalism means by looking at wikipedia articles, please explain what economic liberalism means to them?

  • @Sara Scarlett
    “I’m not a Con of any sort”

    Are you the same Sara Scarlett who wrote the following article?

    http://www.thecommentator.com/article/5530/give_david_cameron_the_majority_he_deserves

    If so, then you said just three months ago that you were joining the Conservative Party. Why would you join the party if you are “not a Con of any sort”??

  • @Stuart 12th Apr ’15 – 11:22am

    Brilliant find. Absolutely brilliant. *doffs hat*

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 12th Apr '15 - 11:32am

    That article has a lot of common themes with things Sara has written in these comments and beyond, but they have completely the wrong Twitter account and photo associated with it.

  • Another interesting find re Liberal Vision, from an interview of Sara Scarlett by Tory Bear (2009): http://www.torybear.com/2009/06/bear-necessities-sara-scarlett.html

    “the newly relaunched think tank Liberal Vision. Headed up by Mark Littlewood, who is another fan of trouble-making – to the extent he was punched by a Lib Dem MP at their conference last year, this band of libertarians are making quite a splash in Lib Dem land. While Liberal Vision are making inroads in trying to influence Lib Dem policy and shift the floundering, cracked coalition to the right, the organisation has one mammoth struggle ahead of it. TB agrees with the notion that “libertarianism is the natural conclusion of classic liberalism” that Scarlett mentioned more than twice, but whether libertarians will ever feel at home in the Liberal Democrats remains to be seen.”

  • Stephen Hesketh 12th Apr '15 - 12:05pm

    As I and others have written previously, we should not give up the word libertarian.

    I would contend that you can be libertarian (as distinct to Liberal) and be from much of the British political spectrum.

    I cite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_socialism.

    We should not let right wing neo-Conservatives steal this word! We do so at our peril. They are anything but libertarian. Unenlightend economic self interest is not libertarian in anyway whatsoever!

    The deliberate confusion of libertarian and neo-conservativism is yet another wonderful import from the US!

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Apr '15 - 12:58pm

    I am glad this has generated a decent length discussion, but if I can just nudge people back to the subject of why they are, aren’t or are thinking of voting Lib Dem this election. If they are going to continue.

    I get worried that comments start getting too personal when people get into heated discussions about libertarianism versus liberalism. It is not directly on topic. Maybe someone should submit an article on it. 😀

  • Stuart 12th Apr ’15 – 11:22am……
    Excellent…I tried to read Sara Scarlett’s article but gave up after her 999th repeat of the word ‘left’…

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 1:20pm

    I am voting Liberal Democrat because I believe in Liberal Democrat policies such as the commitment to ending indefinite immigration detention, the promise to treat mental health on a par with physical health, and the fully costed plan to reduce the deficit.

    But I am also voting Liberal Democrat because all the other parties have policies which I find utterly unacceptable.
    For the Tories, it is the British Bill of Rights and their planned £12bn of welfare cuts. For Labour, it is the plan to abolish housing benefit for under 25-year olds. For the Greens, it is their protectionism. For UKIP it is almost their entire manifesto.

  • @Philip Thomas
    “For Labour, it is the plan to abolish housing benefit for under 25-year olds.”

    Honest question – do you have a source for this? I’ve just looked but have been unable to find anything. Plenty of references to the Tories proposing such a thing, but I can’t find anything from Labour.

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 2:53pm

    Stuart- very good question. I can find references to it being contemplated- but not any definite commitment (I doubt it will be in the manifesto for examples).

    Lynne Featherstone asked Harriet Harman “Are you still planning to abolish housing benefits for under-25s? (In the Women’s debate about 1:06 on the tape). Harriet changed the subject.
    If Harriet Harman knew there were no such plans, a forthright denial would have been appropriate. But I don’t think that proves there are such plans, I think it is possible Harriet Harman doesn’t know what her own party’s welfare policy is (although that would make Lynne’s question rather like “have you stopped beating your wife?” which doesn’t speak well for Lynne).

    If the plans don’t exist that would remove an obstacle to me voting Labour.

  • Peter Duxbury-Smith 12th Apr '15 - 3:01pm

    I think my own values are liberal and align best with Liberal Democrats. But then I read what others with a claimed affinity say and write in forums like this, and very often I get put off; I frequently don’t agree with them at all. Well, maybe that is part of a “wide church” liberal point of view. Maybe I should expect to find a wide plethora of ideas and opinions in a party intelligent and sophisticated enough to lead with fairness and balance. It is hard to identify fundamental pivot points, however. Somehow, the two parties of the recent era of two-party politics, Conservatives and Labour, seem to have their roots deeper set, their rudders deeper in the water, and it is easier to identify – and trust – what their real tendencies are on current issues (irrespective of whatever spin they put on them.)

    Oh how I hope we can get beyond two-party politics. I am so tired of hearing the same old slot-rattling arguments founded on issues of capital vs. labour. They address at best 40% of what needs to be addressed. The rest they ignore and it is up to others, particularly LibDems, to fill the 60% gap with sound solutions based on solid values – (If we can mange to work out and fundamentally agree what these should be!!!)

    Unlike some opinions I read, I am not at all surprised to have seen what happened, particularly with tuition fee policy of LibDems in last government: With the dispensation of power in the coalition what else was to be expected? It was not a winner-takes-all election result (thank goodness) and, it seems to me, only foolish lack of realism, on the part of those who have made it such a benchmark for success/failure, winning one particular key policy of the LibDems through in coalition. Rather, I think there is much cause to celebrate how the LibDems worked in the coalition and hopefully ushered in a new era of british politics and government.

    Rather than frustration with coalition or other forms of shared government, should not LibDems above all the rest welcome a rich and “broad church” approach to government? Is this not close to fundamental democratic principles? If it is then this is perhaps where the LibDems could sink a “deeper rudder. ” But there would need to be broad agreement among LibDems about some fundamental values, and I am not at all sure I can see this being possible:

    I agree with all the factors listed in the OP. I just am not convinced that these on their own provide a solid enough basis for real policy and decision making in government today. I am aware that there exists an invisible powerhouse of strategic decision making in the hidden parts of the Conservative party. It worries me, because I suspect it is biased in favour of an elite. Labour, particularly Old Labour, have a fundamentalism based on values that were particularly relevant a few generations ago, but are probably old-fashioned and even moribund today. Yet they will adhere to these fundamentals, both to guide and vindicate themselves, irrespective of whatever is obvious in a current situation. They rely much on the religious nature of their supporters. A common sense argument will not win through with either of these parties if it does not map back to their fundamentals. And it is perhaps the lack of fundamentalism in the LibDems which is their downfall.

    From what I read the Lib Dems are in danger of being the “Glib Dems.” (i.e. What I have read on issues such as where 28:1 Lib Dem MPs voted recently to recognise a Palestine State, where they patently have strong opinions backed up with little substantive knowledge.) I am sure I cannot be the first to have coined this term “Glib Dems”, but I am afraid I am ignorant of where it has been generated before. I am almost certain that it would have been, though. Because there are so many zany, ill thought through ideas on forums such as this one. Not that I am against creative thinking. Quite the contrary.

    It’s just that I keep getting caught by surprise to find so often I disagree with those with whom I would expect to agree most: Because of their desire for balance and fairness as well as pragmatic, liberal thinking and intelligent analysis and decision-making. I wonder if there really are any real core values that distinguish the Lib Dems?

  • @Eddie Sammon 12th Apr ’15 – 12:58pm

    I think the topic could’ve been nudged “back to the subject ” a little earlier if a couple of the people posting here who actually already knew SS was no longer a member of the party had indicated so “a little earlier”, do you not agree? Rather than wait for the rest of us to catch up? They may have their reasons.

    I do think one lesson that should be learned from this for LDV going forward would be that if articles are taken from members of Liberal Vision, said articles should be clearly identified as coming a) from a member of Liberal Vision and b) that Liberal Vision is a Libertarian/Liberal organisation, officially unaffiliated with the Lib Dems. I recognise that there may be current or historic connections between people at LDV and LV, but for the rest of us in the dark it would be of benefit to have a little light and transparency thrown on the proceedings.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Apr '15 - 4:33pm

    Hi Peter, an interesting post.

    You sound like a “target market” Lib Dem – i.e. not an ideologue wanting a divisive revolution.

    No party is perfect, but I worry that if we don’t answer the call for reasonable pragmatic politics then politics will descend into further populism. Part of it is also wanting to help a party that has helped me. The online version of traditional community politics.

    Regards

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Apr '15 - 4:37pm

    Hi Bolano, I am not sure, I switched off once the debate went onto one that I have seen conducted many times before.

    I am not really criticising, I have just been on here for a while and I need to prioritise other things. 🙂

    Regards

  • @ Philip Thomas

    I am not sure that social liberals would agree with the Wikipedia definition of “economic liberalism”. We might define it as an ideological belief in the free market with little government regulation as the way to increase freedom and liberty. Coupled with the belief that where the government provides goods or services the best way for it to be provided is by companies and some form of competition.

    Your conservatism might be along the lines of that which existed under say Macmillan.

    @ Stephen Hesketh

    The term libertarian socialism according to Wikipedia is very board. However some aspects would be appealing to liberals such as decentralisation and worker run companies.

    @ Peter Duxbury-Smith

    Liberalism has deep roots and its aim is to increase the freedom and liberty of all individuals. We have a history of controlling elites. However Liberals often differ on what are the best means of achieving this.

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 6:13pm

    @Michael BG
    Indeed Macmillan is a past political leader I admire, although never formally a Liberal (other past political leaders I admire include Palmerston, Gladstone, Sir Robert Peel and Sir Winston Churchill. As you can see, I run to Conservatives who subsequently left the Conservative Party!)
    But I don’t think social liberals get to define economic liberalism so I repeat my request for a real economic liberal to define it.

  • Stephen Hesketh 12th Apr '15 - 6:55pm

    Michael BG 12th Apr ’15 – 5:56pm
    @ Stephen Hesketh “The term libertarian socialism according to Wikipedia is very board. However some aspects would be appealing to liberals such as decentralisation and worker run companies. ”

    Two points Michael:
    1) What is shows is that the word ‘libertarian’ refers to something that is not, by definition, right wing. You can be a libertarian without being a bonkers free market Corporatist. Allowing them to appropriate the word is simply intellectually incorrect and strategically and tactically wrong.
    2) YES! My belief is that, without the British class system and the party political history of the 20th century, Libertarian Socialist and Social Justice Liberals, if not in the same party, would have been very close bed fellows.
    I would definitely have more in common with a Libertarian Socialist than a bonkers free market self-styled economic liberal corporatist.

    The greatest failure of British Labourism has been to define individual men and women primarily and predominantly by their class and the side of industry in which they worked!

  • Stephen Hesketh 12th Apr '15 - 7:01pm

    Philip Thomas 12th Apr ’15 – 6:13pm

    Philip, I too would like one of these ‘economic liberals’ to explain their position but would ask for them also to be members and electoral supporters of this party. Perhaps none of the usual suspects meet all three criteria?

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 7:05pm

    Stephen, Matthew Huntbatch seems to think the “economic liberals” *run* our party. Surely not too much to ask one of them to speak up, then?

  • Stephen Hesketh 12th Apr '15 - 7:21pm

    Michael BG 12th Apr ’15 – 5:56pm
    Re your reply to Peter Duxbury-Smith “Liberalism has deep roots and its aim is to increase the freedom and liberty of all individuals. We have a history of controlling elites. However Liberals often differ on what are the best means of achieving this.”

    Actually Peter (and Michael) the best definition of what the party stands for is to be found in the preamble:
    http://www.libdems.org.uk/constitution

    Also of interest regarding members own self scoring:
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/economic-liberals-or-social-liberals-pragmatists-or-ideologues-how-lib-dem-members-describe-their-own-political-identity-42960.html

    In the above thread John Tilley (18th Oct ’14 – 5:39pm) gives an excellent summary:

    ” … certainly seems to show that the hardline disciples of Orange Bookery are a small minority —
    90% (+3) – Liberal
    73% (+13) – Internationalist
    72% (+7) – Progressive
    60% (-4) – Social liberal
    59% (+7) – Reformer
    49% (+4) – Centre-left
    45% (+1) – Civil libertarian
    47% (+3) – Radical
    47% (+6) – Green
    34% (=) – Social democrat

    13% (-1) – Free marketeer

    Back to me!
    In short the Free Market Corporate apologists are a small but well organised, inter-connected and very vocal minority in today’s Liberal Democrats.

  • @Stephen Hesketh 12th Apr ’15 – 7:01pm

    @Philip Thomas 12th Apr ’15 – 7:05pm

    You’ll both get your chance in a week or two when the next pro-TTIP article rolls in. They may not clearly announce themselves, they may not put clear arguments defining their position, illuminating what exactly “economic liberalism” is – but they’ll be the ones warning about the lefties, about scaremongering, about how markets are just plainly and simply jolly good things that no one sensible would dream of criticising. When you try grappling directly with their beliefs you’ll find your hands full of sand. They’ll be the ones in this informal group or that, having some connection or another with policy groups, MPs, standing for this position or that in the party.

    They’ll be the ones with arguments that remind, you, inexplicably, of things Tories have said – and once you try and narrow down exactly what it is about this comment or that that seems so redolent of Radical Toryism you’ll find they’ve vanished like the wind.

  • Stephen Hesketh 12th Apr '15 - 7:38pm

    And just to keep on topic … I am voting Liberal Democrat simply because I believe in the social justice values of this party as set out in the preamble to our constitution.

    These words prove why this party, its philosophy and democratically agreed policies remain the most relevant to life in Britain, in Europe and globally – today and for the foreseeable future.

    Hope this ticks all the boxes Eddie!

  • Sara Scarlett 12th Apr '15 - 7:44pm

    I see I’m being stalked again…

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 7:46pm

    @Stephen Hesketh.
    “Economic Liberal” scored 29% in the same poll. At least 16% of respondents considered themselves Economic Liberals but not Free Marketeers, as I would (not that I responded to that poll).

  • Sara Scarlett 12th Apr '15 - 7:54pm

    “If so, then you said just three months ago that you were joining the Conservative Party. Why would you join the party if you are “not a Con of any sort”??”

    I am and always have been a Classical Liberal. It actually broke my heart to join the Tories but here is why I left the LibDems –

    http://www.liberal-vision.org/2014/12/27/why-i-am-leaving-the-liberal-democrats/

    Since joining the Liberal Democrats I have experienced nothing but bullying, threats of physical violence, intimidation and manipulation. Based on the way I, and others, have been treated, I don’t think it is safe for young women to go to LibDem Party Conference.

  • Sara Scarlett 12th Apr '15 - 7:57pm

    I have never met Bolano and the way he has treated me on this thread is really quite creepy. Stalking my twitter feed. Treating LV like we’re some sort of evil corporation. We’re not. We’re a bunch of political nerds with a blog. So very, very creepy.

  • jedibeeftrix 12th Apr '15 - 8:03pm

    Reading this from Sara’s long goodbye:

    “– The LibDems are fundamentally small ‘c’ conservative in the way they run the party. Tony Blair let red blood flow to remake the Labour party into New Labour. The discipline showed by the Tories when David Cameron went about decontaminating the Tory brand was impressive. Were a moderniser to come along in the LibDems, I doubt he or she would get very far. I think most of the recent LibDem presidential elections prove that. The blood that needs to be let is never let and there’s a lot of bad blood.”

    Certainly reminds of all the angry conspiracy theorists here, muttering about entryism and fifth columns and the like.

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 8:18pm

    It is always sad to read why someone left the party: leaving a political party one has identified with is not a decision anyone takes lightly. I don’t think you (or Liberal Vision) are evil. I am sorry if my tone has been overly hostile in this discussion. I hope the Conservative party changes for the better as a result of your membership.

  • Sara Scarlett 12th Apr '15 - 8:23pm

    “whole point of tweeting is so that people read the tweets, is it not?”

    Reading is one thing. Re-printing them in a completely innappropriate place is another. Also dredging every article and interview I’ve ever done. Allowed? Yes. Appropriate or necessary? No.

  • Sara Scarlett 12th Apr '15 - 8:28pm

    I genuinely feel for Eddie Sammon. I’m sorry for my role in this thread. I see you tried to get the thread back on track and were blatantly ignored.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Apr '15 - 8:54pm

    Hi Sara, don’t worry, I wasn’t getting annoyed, just wanted to deliver a friendly nudge.

    I’ve just been for a walk and emailed HQ about the new Lib Dem tax plans. I’m not going to run and vote Conservative at the first tough decision, but it doesn’t look good for small businesses and taxing dividends more than salaries is not fair. I might revert back to being a no voter. I feel a bit let down, as will others. Hopefully there will be some sort of clarification.

    Regards

  • @Sara, I am sorry you feel you have been bullied by members of this party. That is not right – and I have seen posts by someone of the same name on here before receive rather overly assertive responses. However, I ask out of curiosity and not to change your vote, but do you think using your democratic right to vote for a party which you previously claimed to wholly disagree with just to get back at a small internet ‘trolls’ is a bit of a waste? I mean, it is your democratic vote to do with as you wish, but I do wonder if there were not more effective routes you could take?

    With Matthew, he can be a bit of an old grump (to put it mildly as someone who has more than one been at the end of his keyboard strikes (and i was trying to agree with him)), but his passion for Liberalism can never be questioned, nor can his knowledge of the subject. The term ‘classical liberal’ in of itself is a bit of an erroneous one. It is like when people speak of ‘classical Chinese’ as if it were one language from history, but when something has held so many faces and has exists through many ages in more lands than I can court, then how can anyone assert that one period is the ‘classic period’ without arbitrarily forgetting so many other important parts of the thing.

    The reason that people who so often say they are ‘classic liberals’ misunderstand so much as the liberals of the early 1800s is because they forget from where the Liberals came and to where they then went. You cannot truly understand those Liberals if you isolate them from the rest of their history, but at the point in which you say they are the ‘classic liberals’ and that was true liberalism, is most you trap liberalism into a historial cage. Liberalism is not a ‘was’, it is an ‘is’ and like all things of the present it is still growing and evolving. The second it becomes a ‘was’, it is a thing of the past, doomed to hurt the pages of dusty textbooks, only be gazed upon by half-interested political and historical students.

    The word ‘liberalism’ goes back as far as 1375, maybe they are the classic liberals. It would not still be in use today had its meaning not changed so greatly since that time.

  • Stephen Hesketh 12th Apr '15 - 9:23pm

    Sara Scarlett 12th Apr ’15 – 8:28pm
    “I genuinely feel for Eddie Sammon. I’m sorry for my role in this thread. I see you tried to get the thread back on track and were blatantly ignored.”

    Sara speaking of being blatantly ignored, you appear to have overlooked my post of 7:38pm commencing with the words, “And just to keep on topic ” and culminating with, “Hope this ticks all the boxes Eddie!”

  • Sara Scarlett 12th Apr '15 - 9:40pm

    “you appear to have overlooked my post of 7:38pm”

    You’re right! I didn’t read every single comment when I was scanning the thread to make sure I wasn’t being libelled. I’m so sorry I missed your post or didn’t clarify my statement to Eddie to say – I’m sorry you’ve been blatantly ignored by most. I hope this makes amends.

    “I ask out of curiosity and not to change your vote, but do you think using your democratic right to vote for a party which you previously claimed to wholly disagree with just to get back at a small internet ‘trolls’ is a bit of a waste?”

    This is not anything to do with internet trolls. This is about how women have been treated in person. I don’t know why any woman would vote for this party. The LibDems talk a big talk on women’s issues but I have seen a lot women in the LibDems being treated very poorly. I didn’t feel great about how I was treated and I know that I wasn’t treated the worst by a long shot. If you report an individual to the party because of bullying and harrassment, the investigation process is a kangaroo court and nothing appears to have changed and I don’t believe it ever will. So that’s why I’m not voting for the LibDems.

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 9:46pm

    @Liberal Al
    Why are you voting Liberal Democrat?

    As for the tax plans, I can’t help but thinking that putting a penny on income tax was a pretty good manifesto policy, back in the day. Straightforward, simple, and progressive.

  • I know the point has been made many times. But the definition of Liberal can be found in the preamble of the Lib Dem constitution. My interpretation for what it is worth is that it is a definition of Liberalism but not Liberterianism. They are not mutually exclusive but they are not the same. If Libertarians want to join the Liberal Democrats then they need to make the judgement call based on our preamble about whether they are in the right party. But they should not have a sense of entitlement and expect the Liberal Democrats to always be libertarian on every issue. I cannot say I know Sarah Scarlett but I have noticed that some Libertarians have a way of putting their case where they tend to mock people they disagree with.

  • Sara: I do not doubt you on this, nor do I defend the Lib Dems on it – and I apogolise for misunderstanding this comment:

    “I’m not a Con of any sort but I am voting Con to protest the disgusting way the Libs have behaved in the Coalition, the way the Libs have dealt with bullying and harrassment within the party, and because the other choices are even more dire.”

    Please also believe me when I say I am truly sorry to hear about your experiences. Bullying is never right.

    Sorry to be rude on this, but I am honestly wishing to understand how voting for the Tories (another party not well known for its treatment of women) will achieve your goals of helping women (both in and out of politics, I assume)? If it is that my understanding of the Tories is wrong, and they are in fact doing a great job for women, then that is too their credit and the shame of the Lib Dems, but honestly, from my position (admittedly, I limited one), voting for the Tories to help women is a bit like voting UK to stay in the EU.

    I am also interested by your thoughts on why the Lib Dems in coalition are disgusting, but the Tories (whose power, wealth and numbers greatly outweigh the Lib Dem) are an acceptable choice?

    I find your voting intentions interesting, and ask for that reason, but as these are personal questions, please feel free not to answer.

    As for my own voting intentions. I am somewhat undecided. I live in a site which five years ago the Lib Dems were all too close to winning, but it would now seem the Lib Dems are dead here, with the Greens moving strongly into second. I am stuck between voting with the Lib Dems to at least help their national vote keep up; however, I also wish to affect my local vote, as well.

    I could vote the Greens on idealistic grounds; however, they are very much conflicted ideological grounds, with me having rose tinted glasses for some of their policies and laying in despair at others, such as (ironically) their green policies.

    The Labour MP here is not too bad, and I guess I prefer Labour over Tory, but I am not ready just yet to give my vote to Labour on the grounds of them not being the Tories.

  • @Geoffrey, I once had a politics student from Oxford (a Tory voter, no less) telling me of how Liberalism is just an off-shoot of Libertarianism. His key justification seemed to be that he must be right because they both come from the same word in Latin. I just smiled and nodded, deciding that was a debate not worth having.

  • Sara Scarlett 12th Apr '15 - 10:35pm

    “I am honestly wishing to understand how voting for the Tories (another party not well known for its treatment of women) will achieve your goals of helping women (both in and out of politics, I assume)?”

    Keeping the LibDems out is one reason. Nevertheless, the Tories have made a lot of effort with women policy-wise. The LibDems do this “they’re evil Tories so we’ll ignore everything they do” charade. The way David Cameron has tried (somewhat unsuccessfully) to decontaminate the brand has been to make it more female friendly. They’ve also put in a lot of effort behind the scenes. They’ve nutured female talent in a better way than the LibDems have.
    The LibDems have behaved badly in government because they have agreed to everything behind the scenes and then disowned those policies in public.
    Protest votes are usually not principled. The LibDems didn’t complain when they were getting protest votes. Maybe that’s why their voteshare has disappeared. All contratrians have deserted the Libs and now they don’t have uniting philosophical base for their policies to fall back on.

  • I am not sure how an article by Eddie Sammon, representing his views on why the Lib Dems should win, got highjacked by an anti-Lib Dem heckler whose views are, frankly, much less interesting than Eddie’s (I say this despite having frequently disagreed with him) and who is hardly worth all the time spent arguing with her?

  • Peter Duxbury-Smith 12th Apr '15 - 11:02pm

    Thanks for your response Eddie. I don’t really know how I may be pigeonholed. But I think sound values must reach somewhere beyond conceptual categories.

    Thanks for pointing me to the constitution preamble, Stephen. But it does rather make my point: I see it as describing more of an “even keel” than a distinguishing “deep rudder.” It would be far too easy for other parties to claim they absorb and subsume all those values in one way or another. Is there a common value reference for all, I wonder? And does being Lib Dem simply mean espousing the best approximation to it? Or is there a conversion /seeing the light experience necessary to become a Lib Dem, Conservative or Labourite etc? (And has SS gone through one?)

    Actually, what I think I am yearning is fresh ideas.

  • @ Sara Scarlett

    In the article of yours that you link to you state, “Contemporary Libertarianism has no comfortable home in any political party” and I agree with you. I believe your natural home is not in the Liberal Democrats because Liberalism and Libertarianism are not the same but only overlap on personal freedoms. Also I would argue that social liberalism was alive in 1819 when the Cotton Mills and Factory Act was passed, which restricted children aged 9 to 16 to working 12 hours a day and banned children under 9 working.

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Apr '15 - 11:30pm

    “I would argue that social liberalism was alive in 1819 when the Cotton Mills and Factory Act was passed, which restricted children aged 9 to 16 to working 12 hours a day and banned children under 9 working.”

    Aha! So classical liberals obviously believed that 9- year-old children should be able to work up to 12 hours a day! So unlike you namby-pamby modern crypto-socialists… 🙂

  • In the 19th century government collected taxes to fund wars, so no wonder being against taxes was a progressive cause back then. Institutions like the NHS did not arrive until the mid 20th century. Who knows what 19th century classical Liberals would have thought of the idea? It goes to show that trying to transpose the politics of today with that of the 19th century is far from straight forward.

  • We have our council elections on May 7th and I will be voting for our hard-working, approachable, locally expert Lib Dems. In 2010 we were a distant third in the general elections(so not a hope in hell this time) so will be voting to keep the Tories out!

  • Peter Duxbury-Smith 13th Apr '15 - 9:44pm

    Nick Clegg’s emphasis this evening in his TV interview on fairness and COMPASSION goes a long way towards the “deep rudder,” and beyond simple conceptual categorisation, that I am instinctively questing.

    One thing which worries me about the Lib Dem throng, though, is that there do seem to be a lot of moaning lefties without a constructive idea in their heads in it. Or maybe they are just the loud ones. I guess that wherever there is real effort towards fairness and caring for others there also has to be a lot of carrying of freeloaders…….

  • Stephen Hesketh 13th Apr '15 - 10:34pm

    Peter Duxbury-Smith 13th Apr ’15 – 9:44pm
    “Nick Clegg’s emphasis this evening in his TV interview on fairness and COMPASSION goes a long way towards the ‘deep rudder’, and beyond simple conceptual categorisation, that I am instinctively questing. One thing which worries me about the Lib Dem throng, though, is that there do seem to be a lot of moaning lefties ”

    Fantastic! Problem answered Peter! Don’t join any party that you believe contains a lot of moaning lefties!

  • Peter Duxbury-Smith 13th Apr ’15 – 9:44pm

    “Nick Clegg’s emphasis this evening in his TV interview on fairness and COMPASSION goes a long way towards the “deep rudder,” and beyond simple conceptual categorisation, that I am instinctively questing.

    One thing which worries me about the Lib Dem throng, though, is that there do seem to be a lot of moaning lefties without a constructive idea in their heads in it. Or maybe they are just the loud ones. I guess that wherever there is real effort towards fairness and caring for others there also has to be a lot of carrying of freeloaders…….”

    Do you genuinely believe that there are a lot of ‘freeloaders’? Isn’t it a natural human desire to be successful and that given an opportunity where an individual can be successful – given their capabilities – they are likely to take that opportunity eagerly?

    If this a reasonable statement of the truth – shouldn’t you feel compassion towards ‘freeloaders’? A sadness that there are so few opportunities for a great many in our society and which are rapidly declining as more and more sophisticated technology is employed.

  • Peter Duxbury-Smith 14th Apr '15 - 5:50am

    @Stephen, @ John What I was trying to get at was the “lurch to the left” I observed amidst the throng of Lib Dem supporters once the coalition government was formed: It seemed to me that many were in it just to protest and couldn’t make the switch to responsibility.

    The “middle way” is particularly hard, I observe, for those trying to find and follow sound values. The road is very narrow and plenty will fall away.

    Yesterday I heard Ed Miliband making an appeal to tribal loyalty. “We all share Labour values,” he said, looking around as if anyone there who didn’t agree with him should feel guilty. I actually don’t know what those ” Labour values” really are apart from a rallying call to “us” vs. “them.” I see the Labour party as pretty much bereft of relevant values today. Yes, it is full of moaning lefties with nothing constructive to offer. So it has no appeal to me.

    But what are the values of the “middle way” ?

  • John Roffey 14th Apr '15 - 9:38am

    Peter Duxbury-Smith 14th Apr ’15 – 5:50am

    “The “middle way” is particularly hard, I observe, for those trying to find and follow sound values. The road is very narrow and plenty will fall away.”

    I agree with your statement – absolutely. However you have not addressed the points I made – essentially that the way things have become as a result of 5 years of coalition government – there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, who are obliged to be what you describe as ‘freeloaders’, because of a lack of genuine opportunities.

    So I would suggest the middle way is the fiercest opposition possible to a lack of genuine opportunities – that results in so many having to rely on State benefits of some kind, adding to the already one million young NEETs [and likely into crime and/or drug addiction] and headlines like this “NHS: Number of children in A&E suffering from mental health problems DOUBLES”.

    Raising the tax threshold – does not help those most in need – it simply reduces the funds available for your ‘freeloaders’ who are most in need of Lib/Dem Compassion!

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Apr '15 - 10:06am

    Philip Thomas

    The whole of politics has shifted to the right since the 1970s. Take immigration and citizenship, the thing I care most about.

    The basic definition of “right’ is a belief that the people currently in control of things are the right people to be in control of things, it is dangerous to change, and therefore their privileged role should be protected. The basic definition of “left” is that society is unjust and wealth and power needs to be spread more.

    I don’t see immigration as particularly fitting into this, to me it is a separate issue, not something on the left-right spectrum.

  • Peter Duxbury-Smith 14th Apr '15 - 10:25am

    @John Roffey . You have added meaning to my use of the team “freeloaders” which I did not intend: My use was meant to apply only to those who want to benefit from policy but don’t put any constructive contribution into it or into making it work. Of course we are facing a situation where there are many in genuine need of opportunities and enablement and it is only fair to make this the focus.

    But I would not equate compassion with throwing money or any other quick fix. For each of us, IMHO, it is not the cards we are dealt so much as the way we play them which is the key to success from whatever opportunity there is. Right now, granted, there is much disappointment for many with the opportunities that are there. It looks like things may be getting better, at least for now. Much depends on what happens on the world stage. And on that we are relatively well off for now.

    My interest in values is because I think that finding the resources within yourself, for each individual, is important , and perhaps is also fundamental to Liberal values. I would like to see these come through in fresh thinking and fresh solutions to what we face today. I would like, from whatever political movement I chose to support, to be able to believe in their vision.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Apr '15 - 10:39am

    Sara Scarlett

    Most Liberals around the world in the 1800s were classical (social as well as economic liberals) and the Party, in it’s formative years, leaned heavily this way. We could argue the precise degree of their support for free-trade until the cows come home but the fact is that they suported it.

    In those days the people in control of things were the landed aristocrats and the established Church. Private business was predominantly on a small scale. People trading with each other were people doing just that, not people interacting with some huge global corporation. Free trade therefore was a challenge to the power that be of the time.

    It seems to me to be silly to use the language of that time without recognition of the way the scale of private business has completely changed. To me, those running the big corporations are like the landed aristocrats and the established Church leaders of those days. Carrying on fighting the “free trade” case without taking the change of scale into account reminds me of the Monty Python Dennis Moore sketch. Or the way the new aristocrats of the Communist Party countries carried on using the class war rhetoric as if somehow the old aristocrats they overturned were still in power.

    Yes, I have heard the lines that say if only there were less regulation small scale business could compete more with big business, but that just reminds me of the old defenders of socialism whose argument as to why when it was put in place it just seemed to create a new aristocracy were always “Oh, it wasn’t done properly, that’s just state capitalism”. Real socialism always seemed to be just around the corner, and every time the corner was turned and the next bunch of socialists turned into aristocrats there was always some “the dog ate my homework” sort of excuse as to why this wasn’t real socialism.

    If the sort of more extreme free market that people like Sara Scarlett and Mark Littlewood are pushing and calling “classical liberalism” is really the effective challenge to the power of the executives of global corporations and the big finance companies, as they sometimes claim, how come the sort of organisations and think tanks that have appeared in recent years pushing those lines are mostly financed by big business?

    The reality is that I go shopping at supermarkets rather than market stalls etc because there is an economy of scale thing, not because of any restrictive legislation. We ARE now reliant on big business, we cannot easily turn away from using it, so it does have an established power. The shift towards free market policies we have seen since the 1970s has given it more power. The line we so often hear “Oh, you can’t do that, the people who run business will pull out of the country and go elsewhere if you do” shows clearly that what we call “the state” is not the big dominant power any more. Power has shifted to the new aristocrats of global big business, so it seems to me that the true heirs of 10th century liberals now are those seeking ways of challenging that power.

  • Peter Duxbury-Smith 14th Apr '15 - 10:44am

    @Matthew Huntbach Why should we worry about a “left-right spectrum” at all? It may have become a convention to do so over the past 150 years or so. But the tiresome slot-rattling on this bipolarity is a diversion from intelligent thinking about the world we find ourselves in today, which needs to be seen from fresh perspectives if we are to address most of the real issues in it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Apr '15 - 11:19am

    Peter Duxbury-Smith

    @Matthew Huntbach Why should we worry about a “left-right spectrum” at all? It may have become a convention to do so over the past 150 years or so.

    Throughout my adult lifetime, wealth and power division in our society has grown, not shrunk. So why do you say that as the basic thing that the left-right division is about has become a bigger matter, the use of that classification in politics should be less important?

    In my experience, the biggest thing that concerns most people these days is inequality in wealth and opportunity, the feeling that if you start off at the poorer end in society you are just never going to make it out of there, while if you start off at the richer end the advantages that gives mean you are almost certain to stay there. Yet now you are telling me that a politics that worries about such things is irrelevant. When I was a teenager, it really could be said that our society was becoming more equal, class divisions mattered less, people like me born of poor parents had great opportunities. But so much of that has been taken away now, and the turning point was the election of Margaret Thatcher and the policies her government pursued and all since followed.

    Isn’t what you are suggesting very much the Orwellian line I mentioned earlier? Take away the very language used to talk about things, and that will stop people being able even to think about them?

    My point about immigration and the left-right spectrum is that I feel part of the issue is that the prime definition of “left” and “right” have come to be lost somewhat. I don’t see being relaxed about immigration as a particularly “left” thing, nor being opposed to it as a particularly “right” thing. I never liked the description of the BNP as “far right” because to me while they were illiberal, what they had in terms of economic policies was centrist, of even to the left. To me, “far right” means being relaxed about the growth in division between rich and poor, which is why I see the Conservatives now as very far right indeed, and the Liberal Democrats and Labour much more right-wing than they were decades ago.

    So, sure, there are more dimensions to politics than the left-right one. I’ve always been very keen on pushing that idea, and rejecting one-dimensional politics. However, just because I see left-right in its deepest form as just one of the dimensions in politics does not mean I dismiss it as irrelevant.

  • “When I was a teenager, it really could be said that our society was becoming more equal, class divisions mattered less, people like me born of poor parents had great opportunities. ”

    Let me guess – that was in the 1960s.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Apr ’15 – 11:19am
    “…… the Orwellian line I mentioned earlier? Take away the very language used to talk about things, and that will stop people being able even to think about them?”

    It most certainly is. Matthew. You are spot on. Remove the common language of politics which has been understood world-wide since the French Revolution and you play into the hands of those who want to pretend that “We are all in this together”.

    The fundamental weakness of the political system that has developed in the USA is this pretence that both big parties can essentially appeal to the same voters as if there is no difference in philosophies , no left or right.
    It enables big money interests and the powerful in the elite to manipulate democracy.
    Candidates for office can be bought and sold by the weathiest interest groups, politics is reduced to smiling faces, slick marketing amd pretence that you are more patriotic than the others.
    This degenerates into the obscenity of constant negative “attack ads” on TV and mega-budgets for elections, which squeeze out ordinaryeople and ordinary political debate.
    It is easy to see who benefits from such a change in the language.

    It results in phoney figureheads like Ronald Reagan as President or the ridiculous Schwarzenegger in California. It is the opposite of politics, it is Neo-feudalism. We even see it creeping into discussions here in LDV.

    We should listen to Orwell’s warnings aout the abuse of language in politics.

  • @Matthew Huntbach 14th Apr ’15 – 11:19am

    Interesting points. I tend to feel that immigration is one of those issues that although theoretically could be raised independent of a political right/left axis, tends to almost inevitably be practically raised as part of it. If there’s a problem with the cultural/economic impact etc etc of the movement of peoples it’s 172,000 Romanians and Bulgarians in Britain, not the 177,000 Americans, certainly never the 761,000 British in Spain; it’s a problem with the poor rather than the rich (rich people coming here is never a problem (just don’t mention the London housing market)). I’d debate an honest interlocutor who was firmly against any movement of people at all, but in practice I’ve generally found “too many people coming here” tends to mean “too many of the people I don’t like coming here”.

  • ” in practice I’ve generally found “too many people coming here” tends to mean “too many of the people I don’t like coming here”.”

    I agree, and it applies to both ends of the political spectrum.

  • in practice I’ve generally found “too many people coming here” tends to mean “too many of the people I don’t like coming here”.

    But isn’t that obvious? Nobody things everybody should be allowed to come to Britain and nobody thinks nobody should.

    So clearly the debate is over who we want to let in (presumably people with skills to grow the economy, people with money to invest) and who we want to keep out (presumably people who will be a net drain on resources).

    Just because immigration is net good for the economy doesn’t mean that all immigration is good for the economy, and it’s quite possible that a change in selection criteria could make it net even better for the economy than it is now.

    The problem with the current situation is that whether you can come in or not is based almost entirely on where you happen to be coming from. So for example if you come from Romania then you can come in even if you have no useful skills for the economy.

    On the other hand if you’re from the US you face a ridiculous battery of residence tests and requirements even if you have a rare skill that makes you far more economically valuable than 10,000 unskilled people from the EU.

    As I understand they do it far more sensibly in Australia, where when you apply to settle there they take account not of whether you are coming from but of what skills and abilities you can provide that will be of benefit to Australia.

    I’d debate an honest interlocutor who was firmly against any movement of people at all

    But being firmly against any movement of people would be a stupid position. The question is, how do we manage the movement of people in the way that ensures that the UK gets the best end of the deal, by admitting as many economically valuable desirables as possible to grow our economy, and keeping out the undesirables?

    And basing admissions decisions mainly on where people happen to have been born seems a very stupid way to go about that.

  • jedibeeftrix 14th Apr '15 - 1:11pm

    An excellent post by DAV just above.

  • John Roffey 14th Apr '15 - 2:02pm

    Peter Duxbury-Smith 14th Apr ’15 – 10:25am

    “It looks like things may be getting better, at least for now. Much depends on what happens on the world stage. And on that we are relatively well off for now.”

    We are, it seems, heading for a global recession with the multinationals buying back their own shares. They are awash with cash [and cheap cash is available] and few places to invest – buying back their own shares keeps their profit ratios up – it is these profits that make it appear that the economy is improving and other ‘one of measures by Osborne – just slight of hand.

    Surely you have noticed how long ‘the sales’ have gone on – and the extent of the discounts. UK customers in particular have lived with below inflation rises for some years and they have huge personal credit card debts to service – so there is little or no money around for the economy to really grow.

    Computers are taking over more and more jobs. C4 news had an item from Paul Mason last night that the expected reduction in jobs over the next 20 or 30 years was 47% [I think] – so less jobs paying tax and money for buying. Start your collection of tin foods now so you are prepared!

    Yes there are policies that could help at least. In my view Federal government including the English regions would be the best approach – with devo-max for each. This would at least remove as much power as possible from the Westminster Bubble – which has been taken over by multinational lobbyists who pay little tax and simply suck all the wealth from the nation.

  • @ Peter Duxbury-Smith

    “One thing which worries me about the Lib Dem throng, though, is that there do seem to be a lot of moaning lefties without a constructive idea in their heads in it.”

    “What I was trying to get at was the “lurch to the left” I observed amidst the throng of Lib Dem supporters once the coalition government was formed:”

    “But what are the values of the “middle way” ?”

    Lots of Liberal Democrats would be surprised that anyone could see the party ‘“lurch to the left” once the coalition was formed’. As our MPs supported Conservative policies with enthusiasm lots of our voters were rightly upset as were lots of our members. We saw our MPs making some of the poor and disadvantaged worse off and believed this was a betrayal of our liberal principles because we recognise that when you are on or below the breadline you have less freedom and liberty than those who are comfortably off.

    Having read lots of posts of Social Liberals on this site I don’t believe they lack constructive ideas and sometimes they even become party policy and then are ignored by our MPs.

    I can’t answer your question about the values of the “middle way” because I am a liberal and want to build a liberal Britain and so can only tell you about my liberal values and aims.

    In the past I believe the Conservative party was big on equality of opportunity, so that if you are clever you will succeed. Nick Clegg with his emphasis on education seems to believe that education is the premier item to concentrate on.

    For years I wanted British governments to pursue policies to achieve full employment and not be happy when unemployed fell to 5% (c.1.63 million). Now there is pressure on those who are long term sick and disabled (c. 2.51 million) to get a job. However the government no longer pursues either fiscal or monetary policies to generate jobs for these 4 million plus people. As John Roffey states the number of jobs needed in the future is predicted to fall. If governments are no going to pursue economic policies to generate these jobs (opportunities) then something else has to happen. If we don’t wish these people to starve to death or become mentally ill then we need to do something to give then the freedom and liberty of those lucky enough to be employed.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Apr '15 - 5:32pm

    Tabman

    Let me guess – that was in the 1960s.

    No, 1970s.

  • I agree with Matthew and Geoffrey on the point about ‘Classical Liberals’ being a part of their time period – and it is why I raised the point that it is a misstep to take their ideals in isolation from the past and future that came before and after them, as you miss the historical context that both lead them to those ideals and then lead their ideals to continue evolving afterwards.

    @Matthew, I agree that Immigration is not an inherent left/right issue in the true sense of that divide, and the way immigration is currently portrayed could be seen as one of the outcomes of the twisting of left-wing ideology. In fact, I image many of the supporters of traditional left-wing ideals would be some of those with the greatest concerns about immigration. However, I do think there are parts of immigration which do link into that divide. In my mind, the Left traditionally viewed immigrants as a natural friend due to them being a group with less political capital and being some of the most likely to be abused by the rulers of their time. Thus why so many voted Labour and so few voted Tory. Of course, this more complicated in the modern day, with Russian oligarchs and the like, but I think it does lend itself the frame. I also think this is why the Right so loves to demonise immigrants because to the Right immigrants are four things:

    1 – a de facto slave workforce
    2 – cash cows
    3 – a scapegoat for the failings of the Right; and
    4 – a threat to the power of the Right

    This is why I do believe immigration does fit into the left/right divide in part because immigrants are all-to-often a tool used by the Right to entrench the economic power that they then use to solidify their social control; however, the Right also knows they are one of many threats to their power base because of this and thus keeps them isolated. It is just the Right is much bigger than ever now, with many of the modern day aristocrats being part of a mutli-national class.

    @Sara: thank you for answering my questions. I must be honest, I do not agree, but I guess that is why we will be voting in different ways come this election.

    @John R: I think it is worth remembering that although machines can do more work with fewer members of staff, though machines affect the supply chain in many ways. One: someone needs to build the machines, so it does create a more divise range of new jobs through a new supply chain; and two, often businesses will utilise their increased efficiency to expand their operations, not consolidate. This means that rather than them sacking staff, they will be able to hire more staff to meet their increased operations. Of course, it does not always work this way, and there can be negative aspects/bad cases, but I do not think machines and improved efficiency are our greatest threats. I think waste mixed with incompetent management takes that position.

  • Liberal Al 14th Apr ’15 – 10:12pm

    ^ I admire your optimism – I wish it were not misplaced.

    Obviously any new jobs that might arise will also be subject to automation. Your reply did not seem to cover the global recession – which is becoming undeniable – even by the greatest optimist.

    Don’t leave stacking up with tinned food for too long!

  • Philip Thomas 14th Apr '15 - 10:30pm

    “The basic definition of “right’ is a belief that the people currently in control of things are the right people to be in control of things, it is dangerous to change, and therefore their privileged role should be protected. The basic definition of “left” is that society is unjust and wealth and power needs to be spread more.

    I don’t see immigration as particularly fitting into this, to me it is a separate issue, not something on the left-right spectrum.”

    The people currently in control of things are people with immigration status (including citizenship). They have privileges- they can vote, work, move relatively freely to other countries and come back again, drive, etc. etc. Those without immigration status can be detained indefinitely, made to work inside their places of detention and forcibly removed to countries where they may never have lived.

    Society is unjust as wealth and power are not in the hands of those without immigration status, despite the fact that many of them were born here.

    Now do you see why this is a right/left issue?

  • The lib dens have lost NY vite for a number of reasons including the bedroom tax,ditching support of the euro. The main reason was becoming more Tory than the Tories in attacking pensions in the public sector while still supporting bankers bonuses in bankrupt banks.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Apr '15 - 10:50am

    Philip Thomas

    The people currently in control of things are people with immigration status (including citizenship). They have privileges- they can vote, work, move relatively freely to other countries and come back again, drive, etc. etc.

    Those without immigration status can be detained indefinitely, made to work inside their places of detention and forcibly removed to countries where they may never have lived.

    Society is unjust as wealth and power are not in the hands of those without immigration status, despite the fact that many of them were born here.

    Now do you see why this is a right/left issue?

    Sorry, you really do not need to tell me this. Do you think I was born yesterday so I am not aware already of it? Do you think I live in a place and come from a background where I have no contact with people of immigrant origin?

    Of course I am aware that most people of immigrant origin are at the lower end of the wealth and opportunity scale, and so that it is an aspect of the politics of the “left” to be concerned about them and their particular issues. However, I am suggesting that there is an issue if “left” comes to be seen as JUST about being relaxed on immigration issues, and no longer about the wider issue of increasing equality for everyone. Do you know how your first paragraph (or words like it) sometimes gets interpreted? It can be seen as suggesting that anyone who is white British is part of the ruling class, and therefore we need have no concern for them – they are privileged and wealthy and life is full of opportunities for them. Posh white people sometimes think that way, because to them, “white” means people like them, and poor white working class people are invisible – or treated with contempt out of class prejudice.

    The biggest division in this country is class, not race. The white working class are now one of the most poorly performing groups in society. Lumping all white people into one “privileged” group as you do is one way of ignoring that issue.

    OK, now you probably did not intend to see it that way, and feel insulted that I seem to have accused you of something that is not really how you are thinking. However, there is a very real problem that words like yours, meant well though they are, coming from people who say they are of the “left”, have acted to turn poor white people away from the idea that the political left is for them, and thus makes them easy prey for the likes of UKIP and the BNP.

    I was a Liberal Democrat councillor for a London ward which was in the 10% most deprived in the country, and also when I was first elected a notoriously “all white” council estate. It was fortunate that we got established there first, as otherwise it would have been prime BNP territory – and in fact they did try to target it for a while, but we fought them off. We never ever did that by any sort of stuff which could be seen as “pandering to racism”, just made clear we were on the side of all in the ward and would speak up for them in the council. However, there was a genuine issue that the Labour-run council had tended to pour money into the more obviously deprived and more multi-racial north of the borough, and had tended to dismiss the south. I gently and carefully put the case in the council that the white working class needed to be considered as having needs and should not be dismissed as “privileged”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Apr '15 - 11:05am

    There is also the real issue that wealthy elite types can favour a liberal attitude to immigration because they like the idea of poor and desperate people from other countries coming here and being willing to work for very low wages. If you can employ someone who is intelligent and able and young and doesn’t mind living in overcrowded conditions, why should you even consider employing someone who is native British, and not so intelligent and able, and wants to earn enough to be able to support a family? So, is someone who takes that attitude “left” in terms of politics? I don’t think so.

    What concerns me is people who are extreme hard right in terms of their economic policies but have no old-style small-c socially conservative attitudes claiming that makes them “liberal” and so “moderate” in terms of politics. As I’ve already said, much of that old-style small-c conservatism no longer fits in with the hard right economic agenda, so can easily be thrown away by the hard right. And then they hide the fact that they have pushed politics in their hard right economic direction by parading a few fringe social liberal issues, such as a relaxed attitude to immigration and saying “there – that means we are not the old-style nasty Conservatives”.

    We can see that’s just what Cameron has done. On economics, he and the Conservative Party in general are way to the right of where Margaret Thatcher was. But their propaganda about being new and liberal and so more moderate was actually believed because of a few superficial things like the gay marriage issue. Naive belief in that propaganda contributed to the over-welcoming “Rose Garden” start of the Coalition which has so damaged the Liberal Democrats because it led to the impression that we were in love with the Conservatives and their extreme right economic policies, and we have just not been able to escape from the pit we threw ourselves into when we took that approach at the start.

  • @Dav 14th Apr ’15 – 12:48pm

    “So clearly the debate is over who we want to let in (presumably people with skills to grow the economy, people with money to invest) and who we want to keep out (presumably people who will be a net drain on resources).”

    To be more explicit than my original post hinted at, this is part of the problem. “People with money to invest” can be “people who will be a net drain on resources” – we’re not living in the 60s. And so because of this, we’d let people in because they’re rich, not because they necessarily benefit our economy or society.

  • To be more explicit than my original post hinted at, this is part of the problem. “People with money to invest” can be “people who will be a net drain on resources” – we’re not living in the 60s

    People with money to invest are unlikely to be a net drain on resources, though, as they are likely not to use as many public services (eg, if they have money they will probably send their children to fee-paying schools, or use private medical services) while investing and thereby causing the economy to grow, so they are more likely (though of course nothing is guaranteed) to be a net gain for the country than a net loss.

    After all, the economy needs money invested in it if it is to grow. Where is this money to come from, if not people who have it and want to invest it?

  • @Dav 16th Apr ’15 – 9:53am

    “People with money to invest are unlikely to be a net drain on resources”

    But you just don’t know, and the deciding factor is not that they have money, but what they choose to use that money for – so in effect the criteria used to determine their eligibility has nothing to do with the outcome. Someone might come here and spend £20 million on a business that contributes tax, employ staff that pay tax, and so on. Or they might set up a business that pays a license to a business they also own in a tax haven thereby paying no tax at all, employing staff at minimum wage who are propped up by other tax payers through tax credits and housing benefit, or investing all their money through the city, or buying London property further driving the market up, and more London property as an investment, allowing it to stand empty, or… you just don’t know.

    This ‘let in the wealthy’ theory is a trickle-down theory of wealth – it ain’t necessarily so; you just don’t know.

  • I was undecided. I am right of centre but share many views to the left, unfortunately as much as I would like to agree with what Labour stand for I can’t fathom their policies as being any better to the alternative. They are still a party that want to devote all our defence budget to Trident. The Lib Dems want to reduce our dependency on nuclear arms, they are against expansion of airport expansion across the south-east. We’ve had to sit through 5 years for another report to try and convince us that Heathrow or Gatwick are good for the British economy, not just London. Labour introduced tuition fees, but will oddly get a vote from disillusioned Lib-Dem voters even though they are neither returning the fee to its original £3000 p/yr or abolish it. Little any government could have done when they are looking to raise funds, and now appearing the good guys by dropping it to £6000. Lib-Dems still have a strong environmental policy, something the Conservatives threw away early on in their term. Lib Dems are also the only other party to match the Conservatives on their funding pledge to the NHS with both UKIP and Labour pledging a further £4-£4.5 billion on top of the £8 set out as the target by Simon Stevens. With an economy only likely to break even over the next parliament I am very concerned how Labour propose to raise up to £12.5 billion in funds for the NHS over 5 years without doing something catastrophic. The Right To Buy scheme heralded by the Conservatives was never repealed under 13 years of Labour and they are on record as stating they wouldn’t repeal it if in the next government either. Maybe because it is a proposal first toyed with by Labour back in the early 70s but never implemented. Labour are very good at setting the next government up for failure to reap reward and national support. People would rather vote Labour as if it gave better results but I see little evidence of that. Thatcher has not been in office for twenty-five years. Labour promise change but often their policies are short-sighted. Whether you believe the deficit we inherited was Labour or Global there was no safety net to prepare for the worst. I don’t believe that they can bring any more to the economy without it becoming another bubble to burst again. Lib-Dems do not have such drastic spending methods and I hope after sharing a coalition recognise that extreme cuts to the extent put forward by Conservatives don’t help either. I would hope that the party could resurrect itself as New Democrats, maybe I watched too much Borgen, I am probably considered a swing voter and I have no loyalty to anyone. However neither of the main parties give me any reason to vote for them. Labour would not promise anything to Plaid Cymru because they realise more devolve powers to Wales would mean even greater loss than they are already suffering in Scotland. Labour do not have people’s interests at heart, only their own. Lib Dems want to devolve more power, they want to continue promoting powers in the north of the UK, they also want to renegotiate our position in the EU so that a referendum isn’t made without proper understanding or our best interests met first. However a new party could start brushing away the stigma of what it has become. I hope that lessons learnt in this election have that ability to promote change and the party do not continue stumbling along for the next five years without reflection. Why people continue to use Lloyd-George as a failure for the party now. A party that technically did not exist before 1988. The party has apparently achieved 75% of what it laid out in the last manifesto. I would say that is a success, especially for a minority partner. Miliband keeps saying to move forward from the lessons of 2003 when Labour took us into Iraq. Yet core supporters of any party will always look back as a way to slander another. The Liberal Democrats are centre, they take the best of left and right and I still think there is time to recognise that before it is too late.

  • Philip Thomas 17th Apr '15 - 8:23pm

    Hi Philip. I love Borgen, but the party split plotline depicted in Series 3 is wildly improbable (not that the party splits, but in what happens thereafter (which I won’t spoil for those who haven’t see it yet).
    The reality is, especially under FPTP, splitting is a recipe for disaster. And though there are those in the party I disagree with on one issue or another, I would rather keep them in the party than let them break away and team up with the alternatives…

  • Philip “The reality is, especially under FPTP, splitting is a recipe for disaster. And though there are those in the party I disagree with on one issue or another, I would rather keep them in the party than let them break away and team up with the alternatives…”

    Amen to that Philip. Perhaps you could gave a word with Messrs expats, Allen, Tilley, Bolano, Matt and Co.

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