Opinion: why we should wish Labour well

Many Lib Dems are angry: at Labour popularism on immigration and law and order to wrong-foot their opponents . That they’ve left the country in such a terrible financial mess. And that as we engage in the awful process of cuts, they jeer from the sidelines, making political capital out of their own mistakes.

But we need to temper our anger. Labour lost their way, but they may find their way back.

And for all their faults, they have qualities we share. A desire to help the unfortunate. A commitment to the welfare state. A belief in internationalism.

At the last election, Nick Clegg said we would work with whoever the country gave the greatest mandate.

In may be, at a future election, that party will be neither the Tories, nor us, but Labour. And if so, we should be mentally, and emotionally ready to respond to the wishes of the British public.

Once we’ve sorted out the deficit, the Conservative party may want to go further, to cut deeper, and we may find Labour our natural allies again.

Of course, we’ll try to defeat Labour’s candidates. Of course, we’ll have bruising arguments.

But let’s wish them well, regardless.

With their leadership election, let’s keep an eye out for what is positive, for signs of liberalism, decency, honesty. Let’s quietly cheer for the most progressive, the most competent, the most honest of the candidates. Even if we don’t like any of them, let’s look for the better choice, and hope they win.

Let’s keep in touch with our Labour friends, and be willing to make new ones.

In the coming AV referendum, there’ll be many Labour supporters who will work for the AV campaign. Let’s make common cause and use the campaign to rebuild bridges.

Because they themselves fear we have lost our way. That we’ve been seduced by power. That our claim to fight for the weak and vulnerable is just words, and we’ve lost our vision.

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  • And for all their faults, they have qualities we share. A desire to help the unfortunate. A commitment to the welfare state. A belief in internationalism.

    Great – looking forward to hearing how they’re going to pay for it all – as they besmirched the causes they championed by being dishonest, lazy, populist and with a huge deficit.

    It’s time Labour learnt that it needs to EARN its way back to democratic legitimacy. It can start by sorting out Woolas.

  • Once we’ve sorted out the deficit you say..well we’ll see about that,sir alan budd did actually say there is still a likely chance of double dip so we wont know until at least next may if the coalitions brutal medicine has worked or not and you know what happens then.Personally as a labour man i’m not sure many would want to work with or ever trust the orange book libs for at least a generation,but i expect they could probably find some common ground with the social democrat sections of the party .

  • So you expect to hop between parties as you like?

    “Once we’ve sorted out the deficit, the Conservative party may want to go further, to cut deeper, and we may find Labour our natural allies again.”

    Your leader wanted to cut deeper than the Tories- where they wanted 80/20 he wanted 100/0. It’ll be if Labour’s ever again in a Blairite position where they can be seen as the natural allies of the liberals that there’ll be a problem.

  • Is it April 1st?

  • Andrew Suffield 16th Aug '10 - 5:32pm

    So you expect to hop between parties as you like?

    As the electorate likes, I think you mean.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 16th Aug '10 - 5:55pm

    “As the electorate likes, I think you mean.”

    What the hell can the electorate do about it?

  • I am more angry with our parliamentary leadership than I am with Labour. Because I fear they have lost their way. That they’ve been seduced by power. That their claim to fight for the weak and vulnerable is just words, and they’ve lost their vision.

    Because I fear they are manouevring the party – via ridiculous anti-Labour rhetoric, and their emphasis on how easy they are finding it to work with the Tories – into a permanent alliance at national level with the Conservative Party, which would not be in the national interest.

    Because there is too much waving of pom-poms in support of the benighted coalition when we should be asking why under Nick Clegg did we reverse the trend at recent general elections of increasing our number of MPs each time.

    Because I don’t like being taken for a fool. And when somebody like Chris Huhne tells me that I “misunderstood” his position when he said that nuclear power was a “tried and tested and failed technology ” I feel that I am being taken for a fool.

    I realise I am in a minority of about 2 percent within the party in opposing the coalition and as such don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but the attitude of the party seems to be “we are in power, we like it. If you don’t like it you have to lump it”. If “pluralism” within the party is one-way only, what hope is there of building bridges outside the party?

  • “The Deficit is an inconvenience”

    At that point your post lost all credibility.

  • Leekliberal 16th Aug '10 - 6:20pm

    ‘The Deficit is an inconvenience’ says Labour troll John Campbell Rees. What planet is he on if he really thinks this Labour inheritance isnt serious? Why was Darling planning cuts of £43 billion and a rise in VAT to pay for this ‘inconvenience’? Your hawa with those red fairies Johnny boy!

  • David Allen 16th Aug '10 - 6:42pm

    Keith day,

    You and I may be in a minority within the party. But that’s because so many party members would like to believe that David Cameron is Father Christmas, that we have moved up on to a higher plane of civilisation and influence, that AV will bring a permanent change in the political landscape and ensure we always hold the balance of power, and that all these wonderful things make it unimportant if we occasionally have to hold our noses a bit.

    You and I are a big majority amongst Lib Dem voters, whose eyes are unclouded by these self-serving delusions. A massive 73% of the population cannot understand what the Lib Dems now stand for and why anyone should vote for them.

    Soon, the voters will tell the politicians these facts. (And before anyone mentions Somerset again, local elections do not count, because local people recognise that their local councillor is still the same guy as he was last year, and they don’t want to punish him/her for Nick Clegg.) And then we shall see the coalition start to come unstuck.

  • John Richardson 16th Aug '10 - 6:59pm

    Well I certainly hope Labour get themselves sorted out. Maybe with a new leader they’ll change the record. All we ever seem to hear from them is the same 10 or 15 abusive phrases repeated ad nauseum.

    As for wishing them well. No, I don’t think so. Undeniably Labour did a lot of good in power, but they also did an awful lot of bad. Though, what did we expect? A huge centralised authoritarian state is what they believe in. Equality, yes. Freedom, no.

  • If John Richardson is allowed to decide what Labour believes in can I decide what the Lib Dems believe in?

    Most of Labour agrees that it needs to sort itself out. That doesn’t mean trying to make it acceptable to the Liberal Democrats like you seem to think. The Labour party doesn’t exist to try and please you, we think your politics are as wrong and wronger than Blair’s.

  • paul barker 16th Aug '10 - 7:40pm

    I felt enormous releif when it became clear that there was no possibility of a deal with Labour, for reasons that go beyond normal politics. Above all I felt very uncomfortable at the idea of working alongside people with blood on their hands.
    We may well have to work with Labour in the future if thats how the votes stack up but it would be better if Labours breaks up or dwindles to irrelevance. There is no need for a Party controlled by the Unions, Labour are a leftover from the politics of the 19th Century.

  • Grammar Police 16th Aug '10 - 7:40pm

    “A massive 73% of the population cannot understand what the Lib Dems now stand for and why anyone should vote for them.”

    You mean that only 27% of the electorate understand what we stand for?
    Given that only 23% of the electorate voted for us in 2010 (and that was the best result we’ve had in 20-odd years), I see this as a positive!

  • George, you are (ignoring tribalists from all sides) correct. Though I do think Labour have a) a long way to go to prove this (10p tax band etc…) and b) not all of Labour do want to help the unfortunate. There are other desires at play. (I also think that there are some Tories who want to desire to help the unfortunate.)

  • Anthony Aloysius St 16th Aug '10 - 8:29pm

    “Above all I felt very uncomfortable at the idea of working alongside people with blood on their hands.”

    Anyone would think the Tories hadn’t supported the invasion of Iraq to the hilt …

  • *never have I felt I had more in common with the Conservatives and less with them.*
    Music to the ears of many in the Labour Party I’m sure.What amazes me about the Lib Dems is is their reaction to a few weeks of what they dished out to Labour for 13 years.

  • As frank field said so well – “one of the enduring myths of the labour party is that they care about the poor.”

  • *As frank field said so well – “one of the enduring myths of the labour party is that they care about the poor.”*

    That’ll be Frank Field former member of the Tories and currently workingfor a Tory government as it implements massive cuts that will fall most heavily on the poor.

    One of the enduring myths and mysteries about Field is how he is taken seriously as a figure of ‘the left’.

  • Username Keith Day makes all the important points:

    I am more angry with our parliamentary leadership than I am with Labour. Because I fear they have lost their way. That they’ve been seduced by power. That their claim to fight for the weak and vulnerable is just words, and they’ve lost their vision.

    As a Conservative over many years, I agree. They have all sold their souls to having power for nothing more than power’s sake. Labour will ultimately win this wrangle and they know it. As for us Conservatives – oblivion.

  • frank field will, I hope, be expelled from the labour party. As for the linking of parties, if this is done just to retain power for the sake of power, it will collapse. Every day I hear a new pronouncement to hurt the poor. It genuinely breaks my heart.

  • Just some thoughts from a humble voter, someone who has overwelmingly voted Lib Dem in the last 20 or so yrs…

    Nice to see a balanced and reasonable article, but I fear there may not be many LD MPs left to wish Labour well in the future, given what seems to be a lose-lose position for the LDs on several fronts:

    Cuts: assuming the fast and deep cutting was needed to protect the UK’s credit rating, then there doesn’t seem to be a clear way to prove this; but if the cutting causes a double dip, then this is very apparent. Either way, the LDs will take the blame for ‘allowing’ the very fast cuts (folk expect Tories to be cutters) which can then be painted as either unnecessary or reckless.

    Voting reform: I think a protest vote against this coalition, and against a system that will make such coalitions more likely, may well scupper the AV reform. Unfortunately, an apparently one-sided coalition, governing in very bad times, is unlikely to be a good advertisement for such coalitions in general.

    Coalition agreement: many of the Tory concessions to the LDs seem to be on what I’d call ‘reversible’ issues, whereas the Tories seem to have their way on ‘irreversible’ ones. For example, I was appalled at Labour’s civil liberties record and am glad to see the LDs are reversing that – but as the illiberal stuff hadn’t been in place too long it is possible to reverse laws, turn off databases, etc. But once companies have grabbed a large chunk of the NHS, National Parks, etc, that feels irreversible…

    Just thoughts, no great answers I’m afraid. But I remember the Thatcher govt of the early 80s and this coalition feels scarily the same. There’s that same bull-in-china-shop, ‘what next?!’ feeling. If you find that many (even vaguely) centre to centre-left voters don’t accept the olive branch, it’s because the LD-Cons are crossing many ‘red lines’ that people feel VERY passionate about.

  • Paul McKeown 17th Aug '10 - 12:17am

    Dear George Kendall,

    I have followed much of what you have written since the General Election with some considerable admiration. You have not only got your head screwed onto your shoulders, but also a great deal of openness in your heart. That you forgive Labour for its dishonesty and its opportunism is a fine example of turning the other cheek. It is, however, something that I find personally difficult, I have more the urge to slap anyone wearing red than to speak to them. Eventually, I know you are right, it must and will happen. But, I suspect it is going to take time. Leave it six months, at least. Labour are accusing the Liberal Democrats of treachery, and worse. For some this is mere blindness, for some rank stupidity. For some, naturally, it is opportunism, very clearly demonstrated when some within Labour ran away in horror from the possibility of working together. For myself, well, I don’t fancy either the Conservatives or Labour much. There are elements within both with which Liberal Democrats should be able to (and do) work. Fate dealt the Liberal Democrats a hand in which they had no choice but to work with the Conservatives. So be it. The Liberal Democrats will do the best they can, according to their philosophy and their traditions. I trust that, millions of other electors do, too. Eventually Labour will stop taking the piss (please don’t censor that word, it is fair), as Labour can hardly blame the Liberal Democrats for being weak, when Labour spent 13 years reaping the benefit of a distorted electoral system which deliberately weakens third (and fourth) parties, without any real sign that it wished to correct the problem. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are working together in many councils up an down the country, they will eventually work together at Westminster too. But your article, is, I am afraid at least half a year too early. But thank you, George, for having the heart to have written it.

  • @Andrew Tennant

    So, if I understand your first comment correctly, you don’t want to re-establish a dialogue with the Labour Party… because they called Liberal Democrats names? Seriously?! If you are emblematic of Lib Dem thinking, I’m seriously worried about the mettle of the party.

    Labour are being unduly negative and seeking to punish us for going into this coalition. Its politics. If we were in there position, we would do the same. In fact, I now believe we did do the same. What we have to do is try and encourage/force Labour into a more productive dialogue. But lets not go down the route of so many tribal and/or crypto-Tory Lib Dems on this site and start bawling our eyes out every time someone says something mean about us. Lets fight back with facts while encouraging partnership and bridge building. Otherwise, we are going to end up as little more than quasi Tories, and I see little political relevance going down that road.

  • George Kendall:

    “A belief in internationalism.”

    Really? Is that how you would describe Labour’s support for Cheney’s illegal war for oil in Iraq? Clearly, many individual Labour Party supporters believe in the international rule of law, but the leadership believes in the international law of the jungle. David Miliband, who was Foreign Secretary under Brown, voted for the Iraq war.

    David Cameron certainly isn’t Father Christmas. He is a ruthless, devious operator answerable to the North American billionaires who talent-spotted him and put him where he is, who is using the Liberal Democrats as a temporary vehicle of convenience until he can fix the electoral system to enable his party to get an overall majority on a minority vote. His long-term plan for the Liberal Democrats is marginalisation. Any Liberal Democrat who thinks of Cameron as a friendly ally needs a wake-up call fast.

    The Coalition Agreement was presented to the party as a fait a complis in circumstances where there was no viable alternative, and at such speed and urgency that serious opposition could not be mounted. Hanging over us was the threat of opprobrium if we were seen to act contrary to the national interest, and in addition the very real threat of a second general election which we would not have had the money to fight. The situation has now changed. Cameron has double-crossed his Lib Dem colleagues on a number of key points and is pursuing a radical Thatcherite agenda over which the Liberal Democrats have virtually no influence. I would argue that the national interest is now served by us opposing the Cameron government rather than propping it up.

  • As a Labour supporter who has felt comfortable voting Liberal Democrat for tactical reasons on many occasions in the past, I applaud the spirit and sentiment of George Kendall’s opening article.

    Perhaps mistakenly, I’ve thought for the last decade or so that the Liberal Democrats were a party to the left of Labour, and I never considered that they might form a coalition with the Tories. From political positioning, a Lab/Con coalition, though a very remote possibility, seemed more likely!

    The Lib Dem 2010 manifesto contained many good left-wing ideas, from the replacement of Trident with something cheaper, to Vince Cable’s idea of a mansion tax (which I’m pleased to see David Miliband has taken up). I even thought the idea of legitimising illegal immigrants (thus removing them from exploitation and turning them into taxpayers) made sense as long as the amnesty was a one-off. Plenty of us in the Labour Party opposed the Iraq war (very few Tories did) and are more than happy to see the back of ID cards and HIPS. I’m sure we still have plenty of common ground with grassroots Liberal Democrats, if not with the Orange boys in the party hierarchy.

    What we don’t have is trust between the parties, and both sides have good reason to be distrustful. Tony Blair did the dirty on Paddy Ashdown over electoral reform after 1997, while the rights and wrongs of why a ‘rainbow coalition’ never came about this May could be argued over for ever. Most Labour supporters are probably dumbfounded as to how the Liberal Democrats could allow free rein to what is looking like the most right-wing government in living memory, when there are alternative ways of dealing with the deficit as MP Chuka Umunna, ‘The Coalition of Resistance’ and some senior TUC figures have suggested. On the other hand, some Liberal Democrats appear to be taking the Tory line of blaming Labour for the effects of the global credit crunch and expecting Labour supporters to sit back and say nothing while the NHS and state education are privatised by stealth, and while the Welfare State is dismantled.

    A few Liberal Democrats on this site come across as arrogant bigots, and I’m sure that some Labour posters are viewed in the same way. However, I think we all need to get down off our high horses, digest what George Kendall has said in such a positive way, and try to rebuild those bridges. I would argue that our two parties still share a lot of common ground, even if it isn’t obvious when the Liberal Democrats are perceived to be propping up a rabid Tory regime. In the likely event that David Miliband becomes Labour leader, I believe he will take the party in a more libertarian direction, which might well make Labour more attractive to at least the social democratic wing of the Liberal Democrats.

  • Andrew you sneer at my horror of the coilition deeds and ask what i feel sad about today. today the coilition is on hols – still time to hear that children in deprived areas in the north are more likely to die in accidents, that the ‘undeserving’ are to be denied nhs treatment and that the lib dems eg andrea read the torygraph. Do you think that I waste my time on this site because I have nothing better to do. It seems that as time goes on hearts get harder and no one can see what is happening to the vulnerable. Power must not take away empathy. I have been in the usa for the last 8weeks and have seen the future. Handing out food from foodbanks, children and seniors sleeping on the streets. Is this the way it is to be?

  • vince thurnell 17th Aug '10 - 9:01am

    Paul Barker, You seem yet another in the Lib Dem party that has a problem with trade Unions. The Unions do not run the Labour party they have a say in it although i do find it a bit ironic that a person that belongs to a party that only has 57 seats can state that there bis no place for a party that is run by the Unions despite that party getting four times as many seats as his own.
    Many of your party really do seem to have a major problem with trade Unions despite there being around four times as many Union members in this country than voted for you at the last election. You claim to be the party to look after the less well off but have a major problem with an organisation that actually has the same aims as you. It would appear that despite all your claims about being the party off the less well off , most of those people it would seem would rather put their faith in a trade Union to represent them than you.

  • @Sesenco

    You’re assessment of Labour is a caricature, because you deliberately ignore the civil libertarian element of the party, many of whom temporarily defected to the Lib Dems in protest at the Labour leadership’s actions. I should know, I have Labour members in my family and they don’t match the caricature of the lunatic right winger you are trying to paint. So, yes, much of the leadership is reactionary, but it would be plain dumb to think that this represents the thinking of the entire party!

  • mpg:

    Have you actually read my post, or have you imagined it? Go on, read it again. Right. Now tell me where I have said anything at all about Labour’s attitude to civil liberties? In my three-line paragraph that refers to the Labour Party (the other two, longer ones, attack the Conservatives) I have criticsed the Labour leadership for its support for the Iraq war, while contrasting the more internationalist outlook of many Labour members. So where is the caricature of which you complain?

  • John Richardson 17th Aug '10 - 10:15am

    despite there being around four times as many Union members in this country than voted for you at the last election.

    Really? In 2006 there were an estimated 6.3 million union members. (http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file25737.pdf) In 2010, 6.8 million people voted Lib Dem only 1.8 million fewer than Labour. In fact, the difference between the Lib Dems and Labour is considerably less than the difference between Labour and the Tories. (2.1 million)

    Not that I have a problem with trade unions per se, but your argument about their popularity is just utter nonsense.

  • Vince thurnell,

    Did the Labour Party get four times as many VOTES as the Liberal Democrats? 23 times 4 does not equal 29, at least not in the world I inhabit. Are you, perhaps, a supporter of distortional representation because it benefits the Labour Party? As Lenin once said, there is no morality in the class struggle.

    Oh, and do tell us how a political party can have the aim of looking after the less well off, when in office it actually increased inequality more than the Conservatives had done?

    “New Labour is incredibly relaxed about people getting filthy rich” – Peter Mandelson.

  • Stuart Mitchell 17th Aug '10 - 10:40am

    A nice and sensible article. It will be fascinating to see which faction of the Lib Dems comes to dominate in the coming years: the pragmatic “Kendallites”, or the crypto-Tory “Tennantites”. Upon this will hinge the fate of your party.

    There is a certain kind of Lib Dem who thinks that the coalition government should be able to do whatever it likes with the complete blessing of the opposition. If I ever found myself living in a country such as that, I’d leave straight away. Partisanship, it seems, is permissible only on one side.

  • @Sesenco

    You caricaturise Labour by equating its leadership with the entire party. You talk about Labour supporting Cheney’s war for oil? Really? I’m mean, really? You think the majority of Labour members support that? Why do you think most of the candidates are trying to run away from Iraq to get elected? I suggest you are making that classic mistake of judging the whole by a part. Its like saying The Tories are now a socially liberal party because Cameron is a social liberal. To me, that’s plain daft.

    Re: civil liberties. I tied in Iraq and the war on terror with a general concern of government power, which is, of course, a civil liberties issue. That’s where I was coming from.

  • @Andrew Tennant

    I would agree. However, I believe the writer is saying we shouldn’t retreat into tribalism but ENCOURAGE helpful dialogue. Unless we want to live in a new two-party state, we should be hope, and actively encourage Labour to find its way. Surely you don’t disagree with that?

    Regarding their navel-gazing, that was inevitable after so many years in power. However, that discussion is about what kind of Labour party should emerge now. My sister, a political philosopher and Labour member, has some great ideas and is doing her part to share them with her local party. I encourage her in this,I think it is my interests as a citizen and my interests as a member of the Liberal Democrats. IF you disagree, I can’t understand why, other than emotion and tribalism.

  • Andrew Tennant,

    “I don’t dismiss the prospect of dialogue with Labour on an emotional basis, but on a pragmatic one”

    Well, Mr Iceberg, here is the cool, calm and collected viewpoint you posed earlier:

    “Labour supporters have, since the election, reacted with such vitriol and bile as to forever tarnish their reputation; joining their political leadership as completely unprincipled, tribal and repugnant. …. neither we, nor the Tories, deserve the bitterness, anger and resentment directed at us by the forces of hell in red.”

    I don’t think I would like to meet you when you’re REALLY feeling peevish!

  • @ David Allen

    Your last post was quite funny. And it is exactly this kind of thing that the writer of the post is trying to discourage, as I see it, in our party. Now, I have a lot of problems with the Labour leadership. But I know there are points of sympathy between the memberships of each party. That’s where the dialogue will take place, amongst those who are actively interested in maintaining it. So I suggest, we by-pass the tribalists of all stripes, just as Kendall says, and try to start a conversation with our frenemies.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Aug '10 - 12:24pm


    So you expect to hop between parties as you like?

    No. As I have said, numerous times, the present situation illustrates well that we are not free to do that. We were forced into a coalition with the Conservatives because there were not enough Labour MPs to make a coailtion with them viable, and the Labour Party showed no willingness to go into coalition with us anyway.

    After all ll those years where Liberal Democrat leaders were continually asked “which would you go into coalition with?”, we can now see the better question would be to ask the leaders of the Labour and Conservatives parties “Would you go into coalition with the Liberal Democrats?”. But even then, we can see it depends a lot on circumstances. Had Labour done a little better and the Conservatives done a little worse in 2010, a coalition with Labour would have been the more realistic option. Had the Liberal Democrat leadership and the clueless ad-men running the party’s national campaign not totally cocked up the chances given to us by our poll rise early in the campaign, we would have left the 2010 election in a much stronger state, and with our support going up so more able to resist the threat of an early general election had we sat back and allowed Cameron or Brown to go on with a minority government.

    If Labour REALLY opposes what the coalition is doing, then it has to offer a viable alternative coalition. That means an opposition which is more than knee-jerk “stop the cuts” but instead has a fully worked out alternative. It means accepting the mistakes it made during the Blair and Brown governments which have contributed so much to the sorry state our nation is in now. It means ditching the anti-pluralist mentality which, as I have said, underneath owes its origin to a way of thinking which flourished in the early parts of the 20th century in Russia and Italy as the two prime examples of related philosophies of governance.

    I believe it possible that the current coalition may be ended early, but that requires the Liberal Democrats – as a party, not as a tool of Nick Clegg – to agree to do so, which requires a viable alternative to be in view. If Labour cannot offer such an alternative, and most definitely it is not doing so now, the coalition continues.

    Of course, given Labour’s mentality, instead of working out that alternative, its strategy will be five years of destructive opposition, then back with a majority in 2015 and then the champagne is broken out as they continue with government as it has been since 1979 i.e. economically right-wing, driving this country down, and thinking because the rich parked here are happy everyone else should be as well. It’s in the hope of breaking that that I wish Labour well too, but not with any great hopes.

  • Peter Venables 17th Aug '10 - 12:54pm

    I think too many bridges are being burnt down for the Libdems and Labour to work together in Westminster.
    But with the Conservatives almost certain to win the next election with a majority, It doesn’t really matter anyway.
    The LibDems have 5 years to weild some influence, and then with the boundary changes and the probable end of a lot of tactical voting, at least 10 further years of Tory rule.

    Scotland, Wales are of course seperate from this, and hopefully there the relationship can be re-built.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 17th Aug '10 - 1:20pm

    What you fail to appreciate is that the situation has changed and the LibDems role as kingmakers no longer exists. Labour, the electorate and others will be making a judgment on the LibDems based on how they perform in Government and mitigate what we see as being the excesses of the Conservative Party. I’m afraid the record to date has been none to impressive – perhaps if we saw some of the Keynesian thinking that Cable was espousing before and during the election, a budget that hit the well off harder than poor, some evidence that public spending cuts would do the same and perhaps some evidence that LibDems were standing up to an fighting their corner with the Tories then we might have a different view. And meanwhile the Tories are just raising all their old shibboleths re benefit fraud, wasteful public expenditure etc. etc. ad infinitum.

  • Peter Venables 17th Aug '10 - 1:27pm

    Just to add, I have been a tactical LibDem voter Through the Ashdown/Kennedy years, and actually prefered you to Labour in many ways(PR amongs others). And did the same this election out of habit, but you’re party has moved on,and it’s your party so i am not going to try and bore you to death about that.

    This election has been a relief in many ways, i will no longer vote tactically, if Labour don’t drop Thatcher-lite economics and make the rich contribute more to the country, or stop their attacks on civil liberties then i won’t vote for them either.

    It’s been interesting to come here and see what your members think about various issues, and Nick Clegg seems to have the almost full backing of the people here, so i shall leave you to it.( i haven’t been coming here to be a Labour troll). Party’s change and maybe in the future i will be able to vote for you again, who knows?


  • mpg:

    “You caricaturise Labour by equating its leadership with the entire party.”

    No I don’t. Read again. I did absolutely no such thing. I made it explicitly clear that many Labour Party members did not support the Iraq war. So your accusation is totally and utterly false.

  • vince thurnell 17th Aug '10 - 2:02pm

    Sesenco, how many more votes Labour got than the Lib Dems is irrelevant. The fact is people in your party claim that the unions supporting the Labour party should be consigned to the dustbin , but despite you’re moans and anti union rhetoric , trade Unions have more members than all the three parties put together, clearly showing that more people put their trust in the trade unions to help them in their time of need rather than your party.

  • Vince Thurnell:

    If how many more votes Labour got than the Liberal Democrats is irrelevant, why do you brag about it?

    The Libeal Democrats, like our predecessors, have argued against the trade unions having a block vote in the Labour Party. If individual trade union members wish to join the Labour Party, then they are free to do so. If they don’t, then their leaders should not be allowed to vote on their behalf.

    Perhaps you would be so kind as to point to my “anti-union rhetoric”?

    People join trade unions to look after their interests at the workplace, not because they are expressing support for a political party.

    If you want to be taken seriously, you will need to advance some better arguments, methinks.

  • vince thurnell 17th Aug '10 - 2:16pm

    John Richardson, I dont believe my argument is flawed at all, considering Trade Union membership only applies on the whole to people actually employed and in a general election everyone has the right to vote , polling the same votes as there is trade union members says to me that there are more people that put their trust in trade unions to look after them than they do the Lib Dem party.

    But anyway you miss the point. The point i was making is twofold, firstly what gives someone the right to say that the Labour party (which isnt run by the Unions) is the politics of the past despite many more people voting for that party than you’re own and secondly, why are there so many Union haters in your party when your supposed to be a party that believes in looking after the not so well off and having a fairer society, something which the trade union movement has strived for since their conception.

  • vince thurnell 17th Aug '10 - 2:26pm

    sesenco, firstly , whether i am taken seriously is of no importance to me whatsoever. I take this forum for what it is , a forum and I am not so far up my own arse that i think what i post on here will make any difference at all (unlike some). Trawl through some of the posts on here you will see some of the anti union rhetoric i am on about.

    As for the Unions and the Labour party, each member has the right to opt out of paying the political levy and hence not contributing to the Labour party , the fact is most decide to pay the levy, through choice nothing else. Whats wrong with that ?. In the coming leadership election my union will not decide who they’re going to vote for , the membership will as they will be balloted , again whats wrong with that ?. I call that democracy.

  • Vince Thurnell wrote:

    “As for the Unions and the Labour party, each member has the right to opt out of paying the political levy and hence not contributing to the Labour party”

    Why not ask members to opt IN to paying the political levy?

    “the fact is most decide to pay the levy, through choice nothing else.”

    Ah, but would they if they had to opt in instead of opting out?

  • History shows us that the Liberals are no friends of trade unions and the workers’ movement. In 1911, during the ‘Great Unrest’, Liberal chancellor Lloyd George ordered troops in to break up strikes also one of the reasons the sdp was formed was to try and stop trade unions from holding power over governments so its no great surprise that the libs don’t like unions as it has awlays been thus.This is just one of many problems with the idea of ever having a lab/lib coalition in the future and although Blair orBrown were no real friends to the union they did work together to get the minimum wage, tax credits, equal pay and conditions for part-time workers and an extension in maternity and paternity rights.

  • vince thurnell 17th Aug '10 - 2:58pm

    sesenco, they do get asked if they want to opt in. When you first join a union and fill in the membership form , theres a box you tick with a simple question, its asks you tick one box if you want to pay the levy , one box if you don’t. Again thats democracy at work surely ?. I’ll ask you a question now, when you joined the lib dems , was you asked if you prepared to go into coalition with another a party or did others make that choice for you ?.

  • Republica:

    “also one of the reasons the sdp was formed was to try and stop trade unions from holding power over governments”

    Do you think trade unions should hold power over governments?

    “although Blair orBrown were no real friends to the union”

    You have obviously cottoned on to something.

    “equal pay and conditions for part-time workers and an extension in maternity and paternity rights.”

    I think you will find it was the European Community that did this.

    Vince Thurnell:

    “they do get asked if they want to opt in”

    So why did you say they have the right to opt out?

  • vince thurnell 17th Aug '10 - 3:51pm

    sesenco, because once they’ve opted in , if you then change your mind at any time you then have the option of opting out by filling in an opt out form.

    Now back to the question i asked you , have you ever been asked by the lib dems if you wanted to go into a coalition or was the decision made for you ?.

  • @Sesenco ..Forever questioning but never answering.

  • Vince Thurnell,

    Why is it necessary for trade union members to opt OUT of giving money to the Labour Party (as you stated supra)?

    Also, you deftly avoid mentioning that not all of the political fund is given to the Labour Party. Members may have other reasons for not opting out other than support for the Labour Party or failing to understand the procedure.

    As for the decision by the Liberal Democrats to enter the Coalition, I suggest you consult the party’s constitution where the procedure is set out in full. It was reported extensively in the media at the time, so you have no excuse at all for not being familiar with it. BTW, the procedure would have been exactly the same if the party was being asked to endorse a coalition with the Labour Party. I don’t suppose Gordon Brown would have consulted anyone.

    Mr Thurnell, it is very obvious to everyone that you are a fully committed member of the Labour Party tribe. You don’t have to troll on this site to prove it.

  • vince thurnell 17th Aug '10 - 4:52pm

    Sesenco, what a shame you cant enter a debate without turning nasty when it doesnt go your way. Firstly i voted lib dem (although i won’t be again)at the last election but hey carry on with your silly little comments about trolls (to be honest i thought this was an adult site , not a site for 3 year olds calling people trolls).

    Now onto the grown up debates. Firstly you only have to opt out once you’ve already stated you wish to pay the levy when you originally join. How else do you suggest you no longer pay the levy ?. As for not understanding procedure , the form clearly states what the levy is and what it goes towards , the only reason i didnt mention the political levy was also used for other things as i didnt think it really had any relevance.

    As for being asked about having a say in whether you entered a coalition , you quite rightly said, read the partys constitution which is exactly my point , that is no different to the constitution of either the Labour party or the Trade unions when it comes to the political levy so whats your grip with it ?. As you are not a member of the Labour party or i would imagine someone that pays the political levy you really have no right to moan about the rules around that issue do you ?, just like i have no right to moan about the lib dems constitution.

    Now an adult reply without any childish remarks about trolls would be appreciated although sadly i don’t think you will be able to deliver on this request.

    Many thanks.

  • John Campbell Rees
    Posted 16th August 2010 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    “The Deficit is an inconvenience, not the major catastrophe that the Conservatives claim” Absolutely, and Labour is not responsible for it. Labour’s deficit was apparently only -2.7% of GDP before the banking crash and three of the countries which are now in the direst economic position actually had surpluses before the sub prime crisis. The Blue and Orange Tories’ solutions are the economic equivalent of amputating your leg to remove a verucca.
    @George Kendall
    A most welcome thread. As soon as the Orange Tories revert to being Liberals and recover their humanity I’m sure that Labour will be willing to talk to them again. The Liberals and Labour share many values despite the fact that the Liberals have always been supporters of Capital.

  • Vince Thurnell,

    So I have no right to moan about what trade unions do? Since when?

    Your tribalism is verging on the authoritarian and paternalistic.

    You remind me of a Labour Party meeting I attended some years ago (as a Labour Party member). Someone plucked up the courage to question something said by one of the speakers (Ed Bober of the Militant Tendency – Mike Gapes was the other speaker). What was Bober’s response? A withering verbal mugging. “You EARN your right to express your opinion in the Labour Party!”

    Gosh. It looks as though I can only moan about what trade unions do after I have been initiated into the Labour Party tribe and moved up several degrees.

  • Yes, Vince, there have always been some anti – trade union people in the Liberal Party (and now in the Lib Dems). And one of my reasons for not wanting to be in the Labour Party in my younger days was their (then) more powerful position in that party. Unions were also (and sometimes, God forbid still may not be) the most positively democratic bodies that have ever existed – by which I mean that pressure has been brought to bear on some to vote and act in certain ways. However, I was a trade union member in two unions while working, and don’t regret that – they have a very useful job to do. I think, however, like the Co-op, with roots originally in the radical wing of the Liberals and the Whigs, you need to acknowledge that Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and strikebreaking troops is not the only side of the history of Liberal politics and the Unions! These bodies should be open and prepared to debate their affiliations, and be prepared to work with parties other than Labour.

  • Sorry, missed out a “not” – Unions not the most ….. democratic….

  • David Allen 17th Aug '10 - 5:39pm

    @ mpg – absolutely agree. George Kendall is bravely trying to stop politicians acting like tribalist football supporters and writing pages of harmful dross – for which, read upwards and you’ll find plenty!

    Tribalism actually doesn’t do a lot of harm to the game of football. You can support Nottingham Florist through thick and thin if you want to, you can yell at the ref every time a Florist man gets penalised, you can as biased as you want to be, and it’ll all be good clean fun. Just don’t let that attitude creep into your politics. It stultifies policy, it stops people making sensible alliances, and it helps your real enemies to walk all over you.

    Why are the Tories the least tribalist party around? Because they are in it to create the conditions to make themselves and their supporters wealthier. That is a deadly serious business, and they give short shrift to anyone who puts that goal at risk by speaking out of turn!

  • David Allen 17th Aug '10 - 5:41pm

    Tim13, when I wrote “read upwards to find plenty of dross”, your post had not appeared!

  • vince thurnell 17th Aug '10 - 6:09pm

    Sesenco, you have every right to moan but first you need to get you’re facts right which on this subject you clearly haven’t as you started by stating that individuals have to opt out which is not the case at all, they only opt out one they have already agreed to pay the political levy. My point is quite simple to grasp surely , just as i have no right to moan about the constitution of the lid dems unless i join them and try to change it , what happens in the Labour party and in a trade union is no business of yours unless they are doing something illegal (which they’re not ) or you join them and try and change it. Again you have to have a dig about tribalism when ive already informed you who i voted for at the last election. Just for your information i actually opted out of paying the political levy two years ago but after the last election and the coalition i decided to start paying it again as i realised the only way i would have a say in politics was through my trade union. I know its not want you want to hear as you would like me to tell you how wonderful the Labour party is , but im not going to because i dont think they are and ive come to the conclusion the only group that will help me improve my lot is my trade union.

    Tim13, i agree with your point about unions working with other parties but apart from the greens who is there ?. There are far too many people in your party that not only dislike trade unions but despise them for them ever to come on board with the lib dems.

  • Stuart Mitchell 17th Aug '10 - 6:56pm

    “Happy to listen to sensible Labour suggestions, but until they show restraint in their more vitriolic language it’s lost in the cacophony. As a party we need to find our own voice and focus on the difficult job of running the country; we can’t be distracted by Labour’s petty politicking”

    But you must appreciate that this cuts both ways – or is the vitriolic anti-Labour rhetoric from the coalition somehow more acceptable? We need constructiveness from both sides.

  • I am desgusted with Labour for allowing so many of their traditional votes to go to the Lib Dems and getting us the most egregious Tory administration in generations.So enthusiasticly supported by you for scraps from their table hope it was worth it when you are obliterated for another 88 years next time.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 17th Aug '10 - 7:51pm

    Senseco you deftly failed to mention that unions are required to ballot their members as to whether they want their union to affiliate to the Labour Party.

    I haven’t much new to add to the debate but I think history shows that many Liberals have always had a problem with understanding why there is a need for employees (or other interest groups for that matter) to act collectively and to have a political party to represent their interests. And while I used to be able to agree with Liberals on many things this was often a point beyond their comprehension. But if anyone wants to work with Labour they really have to understand that this belief in collective action is deep within our political DNA.

  • Stuart Mitchell 17th Aug '10 - 8:42pm

    Sesenco: “Your tribalism is verging on the authoritarian…”

    I’ve seen many odd uses of the word “authoritarian” on this site but this one deserves some kind of prize. Do the Lib Dems have their own dictionary or something?

  • toryboysnevergrowup

    “Senseco you deftly failed to mention that unions are required to ballot their members as to whether they want their union to affiliate to the Labour Party.”

    What a devious claim to make! Did you realise that the trade union only has to ballot its members once, not annually, and that those affiliated to the Labour Party did so many years ago? Yes, you did realise. But you hoped readers wouldn’t spot your sleight-of-hand. In the 1970s, NALGO tried to affiliate to the Labour Party, but its members wouldn’t have it. Good for them.

    You clearly see the Labour Party as the property of the trade unions. This might have made sense many years ago when trade unions were much bigger (though the presence of a middle-class element in the party has always sat very oddly with this view), but it is absurd today when the majority do not belong to trade unions.

    Clearly, the trade unions have been throwing their money away, because the Blair/Mandelson and Brown/Mandelson governments have increased inequality further and faster than the Tories did.

    “But if anyone wants to work with Labour they really have to understand that this belief in collective action is deep within our political DNA.”

    Is it deep within Tony Blair’s political DNA?

    PS: It would be nice if you had the courtesy to spell my name correctly.

    Stuart Mitchell:

    Read my quote from Ed Bober.

  • Vince Thurnell,

    This is what you wrote further up this thread:

    “As for the Unions and the Labour party, each member has the right to opt out of paying the political levy and hence not contributing to the Labour party”

  • Rob Sheffield 17th Aug '10 - 9:55pm

    @stuart Mitchell

    “Sesenco: “Your tribalism is verging on the authoritarian…; Do the Lib Dems have their own dictionary or something?

    Oh YES !

    Everything in their subjective opinions they deem ‘good’ is liberal: everything in their subjective opinions they deem bad is authoritarian.

    Though you will find that dictionary definitions of these words bear absolutely no relation to their habitual deployment on the site.

    Indeed the notion that one should use a word as it is defined in a dictionary is something that would itself be defined on LDV as ‘authoritarian’ 😉

    It’s all strangely adolescent- I do often wonder what the ages of most posters are (both biological and emotional)….?

  • vince thurnell 17th Aug '10 - 10:10pm

    sesenco, yes i did write that , and your point is ?.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 17th Aug '10 - 10:56pm


    “Did you realise that the trade union only has to ballot its members once, not annually, and that those affiliated to the Labour Party did so many years ago?”

    This is not the case – the ballots have to held periodically, it isn’t as often as annually (every 10 years??) but some unions have already done so more than once.

    NO I don’t see the Labour PArty as the property of the Trade Unions but they certainly have a legitimate interest – the clue is in the name.

    The LAbour Governments did not increase inequality faster than the Tories – just go and check the facts.

    I suspect when Blair’s biography comes out you will find that he spent rather more time in maintaining good contacts with trade unionists than you would imagine. His poliitcal staff at No 10 always included people with specific responsibility for liaising with Trade Unions.

  • toryboysnevergrowup:

    Who brought down the Callaghan government in 1979 and ushered in 18 years of Tory rule?

    Not the trade unions by any chance, surely?

    I remember asking Labour members who supported the trade union campaign against the Labour government what the alternative was to Callaghan’s 5%. The answer I got was “socialism”. Take into common ownership the means of production, distribution and exchange and give the workers state power.

    There’s a bit of history for you.

    Far from being part of the Labour Party’s DNA, the trade unions deliberately destoyed a Labour government and put the class enemey into power.

    Now, as for Tony Blair keeping close ties to his party’s principal paymasters, ask yourself this. To whom did Blair listen more? Trade union leaders or Dick Cheney? I suggest he said nice things to the former (while pursuing policies that made the rich richer and the poor poorer), and prostrated himself at the feet of the latter.

    How does that make you feel? Your great leader a puppet of the US elite and the plaything of the mega rich, who led his country into an illegal imperialist war on a false prospectus, and even covered up the murder of a government scientist by a foreign power. If I were a socialist, I would be feeling sick to the pit of my stomach.

    How could you sit back for 13 years and watch Blair and Brown do that?

  • Lots of comments. A few short responses:

    @Andrew Tennant said: “As a party we need to find our own voice and focus on the difficult job of running the country; we can’t be distracted by Labour’s petty politicking or waiting while they find themselves a coherent meaningful philosophy.”

    Don’t believe you have to choose between the two. In fact, inviting dialogue would go some way to define us against our Tory colleagues, so no.

    @ Sesenco said: “I made it explicitly clear that many Labour Party members did not support the Iraq war. So your accusation is totally and utterly false.”

    The title of this post is: Why We Should Wish Labour Well”. If I misunderstood your comments as a rejection of this, I do heartily apologise. So, do you agree that we should be encouraging dialogue between Labour members like Bert Finch who has posted here? If so, you and I are in total harmony.

  • PrincessPerfect 18th Aug '10 - 6:18am

    As a Liberal Democrat, I see the party as one which encompasses key Liberal values from economic liberalism to social liberal values. I see us on the ideological scale as overall a centrist party, in respect to the varying fractions of the party from the social democrats to the Libertarian wing. In particular I rather feel uncomfortable with the sentiment that we are ”natural allies to the Labour party”. I view it, that we are a leading Liberal force not only within this country, but Europe too and that we are ideology of sentiments distinctive to both conservatism and to Labour.

    I do not understand the concept or the idea of being natural allies of the party of the Iraq War. People can say the Conservatives voted in favour of the war more than Labour MPs, but at the end of the day it was Labour who proposed we go into Iraq in the first place. It was Labour who in the House of Commons lied to the house and the public. It was Labour who on a Lib Dem key identity policy, electoral reform lied on that platform in 1997, 2001, 2005, and now 2010.

    It was Labour who implemented the utterly authoritarian polices in the name of the war on ”terror”. It was Labour who championed centralisation and bureaucracy. I am no Conservative as well, however all of the ideals express in this paragraph are things which deeply conflict with liberal values and liberal beliefs.

    I hold liberal values and liberal beliefs. And as a liberal, which can embrace all forms of liberalism, I cannot be a friend to a party which I feel has been one of the worst governments in political modern history. I am happy to engage in dialogue with Labour or Conservative supporters, and can accept their beliefs, but I prefer to champion our Liberal and Democratic values than return to days of when we portrayed ourselves as a side piece to the Labour party, and created the illusion we were another form of the Labour.
    We are not. We neither Conservatives, we are neither socialists, we are neither new Labourites. We are liberals. Why not just respect both Labour and the Conservatives but decide to be allies to the most important people in our shaping our identity (ourselves).

    Initially, 2 years ago, when I was 17 I developed an interest in politics and became a Labour supporter. But more as time went on, the more disillusioned I became with Labour. They seem to lack beliefs, guidance, a leadership. They seem to have no values to reflect on as guidance. And the more I reflected on Labour and New Labour the more I realised that they did not represent my values. And I turned to liberal values as something to believe in.

    Overall, I am (despite my rather negative comments regarding the Labour party) not anti Labour. Neither am I anti Conservative. I am pro Liberal Democrat. Because in the last few months the one thing I’ve learned is that fighting against something is all well and good, but you make differences to people’s lives by fighting for something ultimately. Which is why I am happy we are in government as of now. I never expected a partnership of equals, looking at the amount of seats we received that ultimately was not going to happen. But to me at least, some influence is better than none.

    In the past few months, I have found it hard to be positive to Labour though. They have thrown bile, and vitriol in our way. Treating us like scum, like political rubbish. For the party that was supposed to be our ”friend” they have treated us worst than our ”enemy” has ever done.

    I will not wish ill not Labour, but I cannot wish them well. I don’t agree with Bert Finch on our manifesto championing ”left wing” polices. Overall, I believed they championed liberal policies, in varied forms of liberalism as a whole. I think it is debatable, and maybe a perception thing. Overall, my own take were that they were true liberal – centrist polices.

    I think common ground between the Liberal Democrats and either Labour or Tory depends on the political climate at the time and what political direction either Labour or the Conservatives may take. I don’t believe it generally correlates on a continuous basis.

    I also consider it quite disrespectful to simply refer to the identity of the Lib Dems as ”the left of Labour” just like it would equally disrespectful to refer to us as ”to the left of the Tories”. We are our own party, thank you very much and you should measure us on our own individual political compass, not on Labour’s or the Conservatives. This re-enforces the idea that we are somehow Labour 2, and we are not and I don’t believe we ever have been.

    I also disagree with mpg, on letting Labour dialogue define us within the coalition. I do believe we need to define ourselves more within the coalition, but that takes time and it is naive to think this may occur within a few months. I send this sentiment to Keith Day, also in his message that the leadership have ‘’lost their way’’. Overall, we as party need to debate on the direction of the coalition as a whole, the positives and negatives within the coalition a discuss together how we can think we can improve on certain areas, negotiate more with the Conservatives perhaps, and on successes we can build on. That is more, coherent way of dealing with matters.

    I also disagree on some if the connation’s on here which refer to LDs thinking David Cameron is ”father Christmas”. I hold no such views about any politician, and I am on the Libertarian wing of the Liberal Democrats.

    I also disagree with the rather biased sentiment of Stuart Mitchell in which he paints things in a rather bleak scenario of ‘pragmatic Kendallites or ”Crypto Lib Dem/Tories”. I don’t think pragmatism is exclusive to those who lean to Labour more within the LDs, and I find it particularly insulting a rather ignorant of you to belittle my (and others) values to ”Crypto Tory/Lib Dems” just because we do not lie to the left of the party.

    I also don’t see why we must encourage partnership and bridge building, (in reference to mpg) concerning Labour. We are our own party and it should be our priority to take advantage of our situation, not adhere to Labour party when the clearly lack respect for us, or values because they believe they can dictate terms. We should out of respect for ourselves and our values wait until Labour are ready to establish a respect agenda, and even them we should treat them and the Conservatives equally, not cosy up to one or the other. After all, ultimately it is not really about ‘’name calling’’.

    I also don’t believe if we don’t adhere to Labour we will become ”quasi Tories”. That is the problem with those on the left of the party. They feel it is either being friends with either Labour or the Conservatives which should dictate our identity. It should not. We should embrace our own identity, in respect to ourselves.

    I also disagree we ”did the same” in reference to mpg again. I believe we simply gave back what we got. And I, would have be dismayed if we did anything less. And to be honest, I feel Labour know nothing about our values, because over the past thirteen years Labour have proven they don’t even know their own values.

    I also do believe that we cannot make solid opinions regarding the coalition, or the parliamentary party Keith Day at this point in time. It has only been a hundred days, a relatively short period of time. More time is needed for a more conclusive analysis regarding the party’s progress. And I don’t believe we are being manoeuvred by things in which you speak. The anti Labour rhetoric in which you used to describe the leadership’s comments referring to Labour is the truth, it is no rhetoric. What is rhetorical though, is Labour’s commentary as an opposition which largely of simplistic soundbites and PR rhetoric rather than something of any neither substance nor reality.

    I also don’t understand why it is the ”devil doom” to find it easy to work with the current Conservative minsters. So what if it is? Why should it be difficult? What would that achieve? Are we only allowed to speak greatly of Labour? The implications here of being labour’s lapdog lead me to question some people’s liberal values and whether they respect their own party. What purpose they see us being for? Because clearly it seems, to them we should be Labour’s lapdog. And that feeling disgusts me.

    I also don’t believe (in reference to Bert Finch again) that we are taking the ‘’Tory line’’ by blaming Labour for their own mistake. Labour overspent and mis-managed the economy. That is no Tory line that is the reality. In the GE campaign we did not paint Labour blameless regarding their role in causing our economic situation. It is not purely the fault of ‘’Lehman Brother’s’’. You can’t hide behind ‘’global recession’’ tag lines. If you want to move on, you should admit your mistakes. And your party seems incapable of admitting its biggest mistakes at all.
    I also don’t believe it is a case of what Labour voters thought, or didn’t think. We want PR. PR means coalition. And we will have to work with both parties, not just Labour. I also believe that you should vote for who you like, not tactically. Tactical voters have no right to get upset regarding the coalition as they took risk voting tactically in the first place. After all, Nick Clegg did state we would support the party with the most percentage of votes.
    Ultimately at this point in time, I believe we do not share any kind common ground with Labour, but perhaps in the future this may be the case, who knows. However, David Milliband is no liberal; he is the mirror image of Tony Blair, Blairism in its full essence.
    I am personally happy we are being given the opportunity to finally establish ourselves as own party. I see no reason to be friends with any political party; it only creates a stereotypical image of Liberal Democrat values which lead to the ridiculous bile thrown at us in the first place. And this is coming from an individual who comes from a Labour supporting family, and my family has supported Labour since the 1960’s.
    I also am of the view; many ignored the variations of the fractions within our party. Many just presumed we were an entirely social democratic party, etc Lord Adonis. We are not purely a social democratic party. I would argue we have a more solid liberal wing within our party, if anything else.

  • Andrew because if the tories had to get each idea through line by line they would have had to accommodate a true coilition approach and taken account of the fairness issue. It would have meant that all the other parties would have had a chance to say something in order to represent sections of the community. For example vat hits the poor. The latest news today is lets take the bus pass and the winter fuel allowance off people. Let us means test things. Let us only let the healthy have free nhs, let us evict people from their homes. Every day there is a story. And the lib dems appear to be the ones who announce everything and agree with everything. The public are fickle in their votes and a week is a long time in politics and poverty. I know that positions are becoming entrenched however please think about the dismantling of society. A free school may do well in leafy suburbs. In Blackpool, for example, the health and welfare of many people is very poor. So are the wages and the places people are staying in. When the cuts in housing benefit and mortgage payments come in there will be even more problems. I spoke to my friend on skype today from the usa (home tomorrow) and she said families are camping in the park. Does anyone care?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 18th Aug '10 - 9:45am


    When I want your advice on what I should think and feel I’ll ask for it. As for your misinterpretations of history ……..
    All I’m saying is that the links between Labour and trade unions go deeper than you clearly understand, that is not the same as saying that the relationship is always harmonious or one controls the other. And if anyone wants to work with or within the Labour Party they need a far greater understanding and respect for the relationship than many Liberal Democrats are able to demonstrate.

  • toryboysnevergrowup

    I will express my opinion on any subject I choose whether or not I have your permission. You haven’t acquired the jurisdiction yet to tell me what to think.

    I was a member of the Labour Party during the 1970s. Were you?

    I understand far more about the history of the Labour Party and the people in it than you realise or would ever be willing to admit.

    You remind me of a leftist I met in the 1970s who told me that one of my friends was not a socialist. Socialism requires a special commitment, he explained, and only a socialist can recognise it. Yes, Labour has roots, not just in trade unionism, but Evangelical Christianity too!

    Now, answer me this. Do you think the trade unions were justified in bringing down the Callaghan government and ushering in 18 years of Tory rule?

    And this. Do you think Tony Blair has that “special commitment” that only socialists can recognise?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 18th Aug '10 - 12:12pm


    You may express your opinion about whatever you want and I never said you couldn’t. What you cannot do is speak for me or others.

    Yes I was a member of the party in the 1970s. No I don’t think Socialism requires a “special commitment “- what ever that may be. Of course the Labour Party has roots in non conformism (not necessarily the same as Evangelical Christianity as currently understood.

    Many things brought the Callaghan government down in 1979 – including the Liberals voting aainst him, and the behaviour of some trade unions undoubtedly contributed. But if you don’t understand that the Labour Party still has deep links with trade unions and is not going to repudiate those links you clearly understand less about the Party than you profess.

  • @Princess Perfect

    One doesn’t have to suggest that we are ‘natural’ allies, in order to foster cooperation and conversation with Labour. I don’t think your view of who the Liberal Democrats are disturbs any part of the poster’s argument either.

  • PrincessPerfect 18th Aug '10 - 2:17pm

    Perhaps so. Right now I feel we have more important things to worry sbout (i.e. our role in government) and that it should ulimately be Labour who dictates its own direction. Perhaps, depending on the direction they go and the attitude they have to the Liberal Democrats in the future can determine some sort of cooperation. But then this is a rule I would put to any political party, out of equal respect for all parties at least.

  • George: a belated thanks for your response, where you wrote:

    “@LDV. Protecting the UK’s credit rating is only one of a number of vital reasons to sort out the deficit. I don’t want to knock the thread off the vital issue of our attitude to Labour, so I’ll not answer your point in this thread. I’m currently drafting an article to look into that in detail, so we can discuss it on the new thread.”

    – Sorry to go ‘off topic’. I think I’m aware of the range of reasons for sorting out the deficit. Rather, I was trying to make the point that the credit rating seemed to be the MAIN reason for the RATE of cuts thus far, and, in the political sense, it’s hard to prove a negative whereas another recession would be clear.

    To get a bit back on topic, Labour (& disaffected LDs) may be more amenable to friendly advances if the Coalition didn’t use the term “deficit denier”! This has obvious unpleasant parallels with “holocaust denier” & maybe sounded good as a bit of spin, but it’s perfectly possible to disagree about the rate/means of tackling the deficit without being a ‘denier’, which implies a flat-earth attitude!


  • Nick Clegg would have to go first for any chance of future coalition.

  • Princessperfect,

    “I also consider it quite disrespectful to simply refer to the identity of the Lib Dems as ”the left of Labour” …. We are our own party, thank you very much”

    Being a lot older than you are (which, by the way, implies neither superiority nor the reverse, of course), I very much agree but I also have a slightly different take on it. Labour 30 years ago were miles to the left of us, with an unrealistic theoretical socialist philosophy we opposed as impracticable as much as anything else. The Tony Blair came along, upped sticks, cynically binned all socialist principle, marched across the political spectrum, and re-pitched his tent to our right. So yes, we always hated it when journalists said we were “to the left of Labour”. We had retained a consistent philosophy, they had not. They had moved to the right of us, not the other way around! Charles Kennedy in 2005 established our clear identity as the alternative to what had become two right-wing parties.

    Pity we seem to have lost that identity now, though.

  • PrincessPerfect 19th Aug '10 - 12:49am

    @George Kendall

    Thank for your reply. I agree with you on the days of Ashdown though, as I did my history on that, and if I’m honest I thought that Ashdown brought us too close with Labour. Clearly he has positive views of Labour, which is fine but I feel like you, he did risk our Independence and did fail to try and represent all wings of the party.
    It’s ok if you weren’t opposed to Iraq back then, as much as you feel you ‘’should have’’. Sometimes we get things wrong, its human nature. It’s quite refreshing actually to meet a Lib Dem who doesn’t belong to a particular wing though; I guess it makes your commentary somewhat more balanced.

    I know the poll tax and so on wasn’t a great era to live in for certain people within this country, but to be honest one of the reasons why I am (or at least seem) more anti Labour than Tory, is I guess I never lived through the 80’s but I lived through New Labour. I have also found things like inequality, and social mobility have done worse under Labour than the Conservatives, which is why at the moment I find it difficult to be positive about Labour, although, if they do learn from their mistakes and reform I will give credit where it is due.
    On the Tories, so far I’m mixed. Some areas of the Tory party I don’t really oppose (One Nation Tories) and other parts such as the far right and the social conservatives I detest.

    I think to create a solidified judgement I will have to wait until the coalition is over, before giving a firm view of the Tories in their current political direction.
    I found the crypto Tory term rather amusing. It was Ed Milliband’s creation but I found it rather childish, and an immature approach to politics from a senior politician. In many ways it is people like him which affirm my views because they are continuing the yah-boo type of politics in which I dislike. I believe we do need a efficient opposition to hold government to accountant, but so far Labour’s criticism of coalition policy is weak. I am open to all perspectives on coalition policy as I myself disagree with certain measures being implemented (police reforms, the benefit fraud policy, health).

    People such as John Denham also don’t help things with their view that Nick Clegg being removed is the only way they will negotiate with us. That again builds tensions and strong feeling.
    On building bridges, that will take time. Currently on the forums I have been on Labour supporters are very much anti Lib Dem with very positive view on Lib Dem poll ratings declining. I don’t mind discussion with Labour supporters, so long as it is in a civil climate. But it seems, things get very tribal and partisan and they often descend into hyperbole and rhetoric and this deteriorates bridges even more.

    Until Labour find a more productive way as a whole both party and supporters to treat with Lib Dems with some respect and to be civil and constructive in criticism so coherent debate can be assured, I cannot see bridges being built.

    I have nothing against it happening but so far few Labour supporters can be respectful to us. I don’t like being told every day that your party is over, or that your sell outs, or that it is annihilation come 2015.
    I agree with you on our leadership. I hope reflection does occur and that the party conference in September results in a stronger connection between Party MPs and the leadership. I am no fan of Simon Hughes, but he represents our party outside of the government minsters, and I’ve come to realise that if we want to ensure we are firmly united and play a productive role in government that link needs to be made strong.

    Hughes seems to be being ignored to some extent, although I would put that down to the unfamiliarity of being in government for our leadership and the stress of it all, as the last 100 days have been busy with all the reforms and proposals being pushed through. Overall, while I may disagree with some of it, and feel unsure about some things, other things I am quite happy about and am pleased about this government’s pro active approach things. I think this time off will be a good reflection for everyone and will hopefully lead to coalition building on successes and improving on areas of problem or failure.

    But back to Hughes, I believe if in the long term he is ignored, that will not be good for unity of the Lib Dems which is very important at this time. So far Clegg has done ok, and in response to some of the criticisms of him defending the coalition, as leader of the Liberal Democrats and DPM I don’t really believe he can speak out in sense a backbencher can. Ultimately it is Hughes should be more proactive in defining our independence within the coalition, and speaking out against things we don’t agree on – and perhaps at certain points, pushing for minsters behind closed doors to push for more compromise to at least dilute some of extremes of certain polices or bills, for example health.

  • PrincessPerfect 19th Aug '10 - 1:21am

    @David Allen,
    I too have a slightly different take on things as well, and I have spoken to older Liberal Democrats as well who agree with me. My own view on Blair is that he did indeed sacrifice Labour’s principles but I felt his political ideology was more of a catastrophic mix of left wing and right ideology.

    Labour initially was centre left in the 90’s before the 97 election and so was Asdhown, as he was firmly on the left of the Liberal party and still is. I think we shared progressive aims with Labour pre 1980, and somewhat again in John Smith’s tenure before he died.

    While I do agree we had maintained our principles I don’t really believe we have managed to convey a true Independent identity in the media, partly due to them consigning us to third party irrelevance regarding coverage and partly due to leaders not balancing the act of at least somewhat representing all wings of the party but specific wings.

    I also disagree on Kennedy re-establishing our identity. As time goes by, I become less of a fan of Ashdown every day, he is far too Blarite. However, I feel Kennedy only represented the social democratic wing and if anything, I feel this has been going on for decades now.

    The Liberal wing of our party over the years has been overshadowed, abandoned and it has only been in the last few years when it has returned to being represented. I respect, just as I feel some should respect the fact we are a board church and we not purely social democratic, neither are we purely social liberal, nor are we purely economically liberal. I am on the Libertarian wing of party like I stated, and am an Orange booker so I don’t quite believe ”we have lost our way” in reference to that.

    In the last few years we have moved quite further from social democratic values to more Gladistonian values, and while I am very pleased about that I do feel out of respect for other wings of the party in order to not create alienation we should in time incorporate some of those social democratic values back into our agenda, much to my disdain though, but if we are indeed the party of fairness we have to prove it!

  • @Princess Perfect said: “In the last few years we have moved quite further from social democratic values to more Gladistonian values, and while I am very pleased about that I do feel out of respect for other wings of the party in order to not create alienation we should in time incorporate some of those social democratic values back into our agenda, much to my disdain though, but if we are indeed the party of fairness we have to prove it!:

    Very good point. I used to be a libertarian, but I found it to be philosophically self-defeating and abandoned it. But I have tremendous respect for the libertarian analysis of more collectivist politics and wouldn’t want to lose that from the party.

    However, going back to the main thrust of this post, ideology isn’t government. We will need Labour on side, either officially or generally, in order to have success with the AV referendum (something I am reluctantly supporting). One doesn’t govern in isolation in a liberal democracy. The most effective governments are those that can carry their opposition with them and on many issues, like AV, we will NEED our Labour friends to be on our side. And should we retain some of our social democratic values too, we will always have sympatico with the social democratic/liberal left of the Labour party. So some kind of cooperation, understanding all of the above to be true, is inevitable and, I would say, vital.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 19th Aug '10 - 9:48am

    “People such as John Denham also don’t help things with their view that Nick Clegg being removed is the only way they will negotiate with us. That again builds tensions and strong feeling.”

    I wonder where he got that idea from?

  • charliechops1 19th Aug '10 - 6:31pm

    There is a flight from reality in this well-meaning piece. Labour will win the next General Election when it comes unless it succeeds in plucking defeat from the jaws of victory.Labour won’t need the Lib Dems. Who will need themat all?

  • About time someone said this here.

    Not only are all your comments valid reasons, but the most important in my book is that treating people with respect, arguing the issues and logic of your own position without continuous resort to pointing the finger and the general demonisation of your opponent is what grown up debate is all about, is, in fact, what the ‘new’ grown up politics the Lib Dems once seemed to believe in is all about.

  • ““People such as John Denham also don’t help things with their view that Nick Clegg being removed is the only way they will negotiate with us. That again builds tensions and strong feeling.”

    I wonder where he got that idea from?”

    I think you need to take circumstance in to account. Actually if Labour were in a position similar to the Lib Dems at the next election, having to negotiate to find the best possible government for the people of the country, I’d like to think that they also wouldn’t accept an MP as PM if that MP was as unpopular with the general public and held in such low opinion as Gordon Brown was; and that goes whichever party the MP was a member of.

    To say it now, whilst Nick Clegg is still very much an unknown quantity to most people, and where there is no real public perception one way or the other only seems petty and spiteful, and is more destructive than constructive.

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