Paddy & President Jed Bartlet can’t both be wrong – Education should be our flagship

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Pretty much everyone has a view on why we had a bad election and, more importantly, what we should do next. I’m a member of Barnsley local party and here are my two cents…

Johnson’s Tories look like they have weathered the storm and are in for a few stable years as a version of Trumps Republicans, appealing to the English rustbelt and the odd white supremacist.

They may be untouchable for a while.

We have just experienced our third bad (so very bad) election in a row.

However Labour, by its standards, has had a shocker. They have not won an election now in 14 years.

Even if they wake up, smell the coffee and choose Starmer as their new leader, Momentum are not going away and they are still likely to spend the next parliamentary term in a Marxist-fuelled psychodrama.

Not since the days of Militant and the SDP have Labour been more vulnerable.

Surveys show that later generations of young people are less left wing than they used to be and the crossover to being more conservative is happening at a younger age.

Remember how the Tories targeted us ruthlessly in 2015? Well, now Labour should become our target.

No one took Jo seriously when she said she could be PM, but taking over from Labour as the primary opposition is an easier sell. We should aim to be seen as a credible alternative to them in 4/5 years.

We only need to get the odd 3.5 million people to switch from them to us by 2024… 🙂

And we need Blair’s 1997 votes, wherever they may be now.

We are going to need a hell of a flagship – five star – bells and whistles policy to attract some attention.

Firstly it’s not EU membership. That ship has sailed. We tried so very hard, but it’s gone.

Instead of being IN with opt OUTs we will be OUT with opt INs so we should challenge Johnson at every opportunity about tariffs, trade deals and the single market but we must never, ever use the words “EU” and “re-join” in the same sentence.

The electorate are just tired of it. Who knows how long it will be before enough people are receptive to the truth over the whole EU debacle.

NHS? Well its synonymous with Labour, everyone is sick of it being a political football and no one seemed interested in paying 1% more tax for it when we suggested it.

There’s climate change, of course. It ought to be every party’s flagship policy, it’s clearly the most important issue of our time….and yet?

If the environment is so popular why have the Greens got fewer MPs than us? It might grab the public’s imagination but only if it doesn’t stop their train running or cost them any money. Unless Sherwood Forest bursts into flames before 2024 I don’t think the votes are there for climate change policies.

I would propose Education. I’m mostly motivated to suggest this based on speeches made by Paddy Ashdown and “President Jed Bartlett”. But that is a stellar pairing isn’t it?

This would undermine labours support amongst the teachers unions and be popular with almost everyone. It’s easy to sell, who doesn’t want the best educated, most rounded, level-headed, health conscious, public-spirited, law abiding young people in the world?

Popping out of the end of our new education system would be fewer people requiring the services of our police, prisons, hospitals, ambulances and social workers.

It would be a virtuous circle, if a rather slow, generational one.

* Kevin Bennett is a Liberal Democrat member in Barnsley.

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  • David Becket 16th Jan '20 - 11:38am

    Whilst Education is important Climate Change must be at the top of the agenda. The news today should be enough to wake up anybody.
    Looking at the four parties proposals the Greens come out on top, and the Tories are not going to do enough. Labour and ourselves have some good ideas, but we do not go far enough. In particular we stay clear of unpopular policies that will restrict or increase the cost of car use.

    We need a Green New Deal, and we should be talking to the Greens now to bring our policies together. Unless RLB is elected to lead Labour it should be possible to bring Labour on board. Just consider the impact of a three party Green New Deal by the end of 2020.

    The deal would need expanding to include international elements, no timber from Brazil, no new trade deals with climate change denial nations and so on.

    This is not the merger of three parties, we have other differences, it would be three parties coming together to face the major challenge the world has ever seen.

  • “Surveys show that later generations of young people are less left wing than
    they used to be and the crossover to being more conservative is happening at a
    younger age.”

    We must be looking at different surveys, then. The crossover jumps about a lot, with no particular pattern other than favouring the party currently in the lead (which is obviously to be expected)

    What has changed is that in the 1992 to 2015 elections this was a minor effect – age might make the difference between Labour or Conservative getting 30% or 40% of the vote with a particular group. In the 2017 election, the range between the youngest and the oldest was 30% to 60% … in the 2019 election it had widened further to a 20% to 60% range.

    See these IpsosMori graphs, for example

    The most recent generations of young people seem considerably more left-wing than earlier ones, by this measure … and unless the Conservatives make Brexit a successful demonstration of right-wing policies, that’ll probably continue.

  • In the 1983 Tory landslide, young voters seem to have been just as likely to vote Tory as were their elders. This generation gap in voting intention, with younger people more likely to be left-wing in their politics, is thus a recent phenomenon. Time will tell whether it is a cohort factor or an age factor.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jan '20 - 12:06pm

    The Tories are always going to be on or around 40% of the vote. If the Labour Party pick up 35% and the Lib Dems 15%, or it’s 25% and 25%, or even 15% and 35%, then we all know who’ll pick up the majority of seats. There’s no point whingeing that FPTP is all so unfair. That’s the way it is. You shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a Tory govt to change what suits them very nicely.

  • Alex Macfie 16th Jan ’20 – 11:59am………………. In the 1983 Tory landslide, young voters seem to have been just as likely to vote Tory as were their elders. This generation gap in voting intention, with younger people more likely to be left-wing in their politics, is thus a recent phenomenon. Time will tell whether it is a cohort factor or an age factor………….

    The, “If you’re not a socialist/liberal before you’re twenty-five, you have no heart; if you are a socialist after twenty-five, you have no head”, or it’s equivalent, has been around for over a century…
    When even a far right Tory. like the Mail’s Sarah Vine. writes, “Of course, young people have always been drawn to socialism” you realise that it is the norm.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jan '20 - 12:21pm

    @ cim @ Alex Macfie,

    “with younger people more likely to be left-wing in their politics”

    That’s probably always been true to some extent. The present voting age of 18 came about in the 60s because the Wilson govt lowered it from 21. I doubt if he’d done that if he hadn’t seen some advantage for the Labour Party!

    Having said that, I’m not sure the present younger generation are as left wing as we were. Support for the EU isn’t the same thing as being left wing. We ran the the No campaign in the 1975 referendum. On a shoestring! It was the political right who wanted EEC membership and who had a budget ten times greater than we did. I’m quite puzzled why it is seen the way it now is.

    Why is the EU, which is run by the political right in Europe, seen as a centre left progressive organisation?

  • kevin bennett 16th Jan '20 - 12:26pm

    Hi Peter, I never said it would be easy 😉
    its just that labour is closer to reach.
    Also if labours vote becomes less regionally focussed, if their red north suffers with the populists and London bleeds support to the lib dems then they too will start to struggle with fptp.

  • My feeling is that the young are indoctrinated with wokeness by the educational establishement. Once out of the educational system they gradually become unwoke when reality starts to filter through.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jan '20 - 12:39pm

    Even the Daily Mail seems to agree that us lefties are more intelligent!

    So maybe the drift to the right, with age, can be explained by a gradual loss of brain cells? 🙂–conservative-politics-lead-people-racist.html

  • Jenny Barnes 16th Jan '20 - 12:56pm

    The age difference in voting preference is a class/property owning phenomenon. Older people are more likely to own their homes, have decent pensions etc. It used to be that was something that happened for everyone, but clearly it’s not happening now, and the age of tory majority cohort is getting older and older.
    However, that doesn’t mean the young will vote LD or Labour, unless there is a decent offer. My belief is that the electorate have been trying to unseat the dominant neo-lib perspective since 1997. Labour carried on with Thatcherism -lite, so there was something of a swing to LD in 2010 and away from Labour. Part of the electoral disdain for the LDs now is that after promising so much, they delivered so little. More Thatcherism -lite, with side of austerity. Yummy.

  • I don’t think education is a big enough issue, not even free uni education and potential savings of 50k per student did it for Labour.

    Housing is more interesting, though. Paying rent means it is hardly worth working for many people and getting on the housing ladder often means house prices have gone up by 50-100 percent by the time the deposit is saved.

    One area that is going to be seriously lacking post Brexit (and recourse to powerful EU bodies) is consumer protection against the big companies and forcing savage cuts in prices where cartel-type capitalism has been ripping people off for a decade or two would be popular.

    On the other hand, Boris et al have shown themselves very adept at blunting Labour’s attack points and as soon as some popular ideas emerge you can expect them to adapt their policies to blunt their effect… this does mean that they can be constrained but not beaten in an election!

    The best thing that the LibDems can do is to ban broad statements of intent unless they are accompanied by at least ten micro points showing how they will be implemented!

  • Paul Barker 16th Jan '20 - 2:02pm

    Did we have a Bad Election ?
    If we compare 2019 with 2010 then Yes.
    If we compare 2019 with 2015 & 2017 then No.
    We were badly damaged by the Coalition & we didnt really hit the Low Point till July 2017.
    The reason 2019 came as such a shock was because of the Temporary Boost we got after the May results. We let ourselves get too excited about possibilities & failed to see the probabilities.

  • Paul Holmes 16th Jan '20 - 2:11pm

    I don’t think I would take the writings of Sarah Vine as a guide to the truth of anything.

    It’s also worth noting that Harold Wilson dropped the voting age from 21 to 18 for the 1970 election in part because he thought it would help the Labour Govt (1964-70) retain power. Yet the Conservatives won a very unexpected majority instead. Alex Macfie has also already pointed out that younger voters were as likely to vote for Thatcher as older ones in 1983.

    In more recent years younger voters have been more likely to oppose the Conservatives but it is not a hard and fast inevitability. Plus of course you need to distinguish between what people say in polls and whether or not they actually vote -younger people being much less likely to do so. Whether that differential turnout is reflected in political leaning I don’t know.

  • Christopher Haigh 16th Jan '20 - 2:40pm

    Tory vote support of 40%+ is usually enough to defeat their divided opposition. Targeting labour, unless they disappeared completely, is just rearranging the deckchairs on the opposition benches. Even if they did disappear other parties would grow to take their place in the plethora of opposition parties

  • expats

    There’s always been a slight tendency for the young to be more left-wing … but only slightly. In 1983 or 1997 it was barely visible, while in the last two elections it’s been unprecedentedly large – and conversely the tendency of the old to be more right-wing has been amplified as well.

    Whether this is just a “Brexit” effect for 2017 and 2019 and will be back to normal by 2024, or the start of a persistent shift in UK political culture, probably won’t be clear for a few years. And it might be worth the Lib Dems waiting until then before deciding whether to try to replace Labour or replace the Conservatives – if it’s a persistent effect, then in ten years time the Conservatives will be in serious trouble, whereas if it’s temporary Labour will be.

  • The 1983 election contest was ‘rather’ unique.. Mrs. Thatcher was riding high having retaken the Falklands. However, it should be remembered that just prior to Argentina’s agression Mrs. T. had the lowest approval rating of any PM.
    If there is anything to be learned from that election it is that Labour/LibDems fighting each other serves neither party (and IMO not the country)..The Tories got around 43% of the vote with the remaining 57% being almost equally divided between Labour/LibDem(alliance)…Giving the Tories a 140+ majority and the ability to sell off everything bar the kitchen sink (and I’m not sure about that)..

  • Funny that so many people have focused on two lines in the middle of this piece, an almost throwaway observation that young people may (or may not) be more conservative that previous cohorts.
    The broad thrust of this article is, IMHO, bang on the money. The Labour Party will continue to dream their Marxist inspired dreams for the foreseeable future, the Tories are pretty much set for the next decade and we desperately need the Blair voters from 1997. The policy implications of that final statement will not make comfortable reading for many here, I fear.
    @David Becket. Generally I agree with your observations and I certainly agree that the environment is now right up the agenda. However, could we find another term to replace Green New Deal ? It makes me think of those East Coast Democrats who are going to be annihilated by Trump in the Autumn. Come to think of it, isn’t Jed Bartlet quite a good role model for our future party ?

  • John Roffey 16th Jan '20 - 5:04pm

    David Becket 16th Jan ’20 – 11:38am

    David – I hope this is an argument that can be won by those in the party who agree with you.

    “Some say I should be in school. But why should any young person be made to study for a future when no one is doing enough to save that future? What is the point of learning facts when the most important facts given by the finest scientists are ignored by our politicians?”

    “I remember thinking it was very strange that we were capable of changing the entire face of the Earth and the precious thin layer of atmosphere that makes it our home.

    Because if we were capable of doing this, then why weren’t we hearing about it everywhere? As soon as you turned on the television, why wasn’t the climate crisis the first thing you heard about? Headlines, radio programmes, newspapers, you would never hear about anything else, as if there was a world war going on.

    Yet our leaders never talked about it.

    If burning fossil fuels threatened our very existence, then how could we continue to burn them? Why were there no restrictions? Why wasn’t it illegal to do this? Why wasn’t anyone talking about the dangerous climate change we have already locked in? And what about the fact that up to 200 species are going extinct every single day?”

    Greta Thunberg – Guardian – 26 Nov 2018

  • Malcolm Todd 16th Jan '20 - 5:06pm

    Peter Martin 16th Jan ’20 – 12:06pm

    “The Tories are always going to be on or around 40% of the vote.”

    Well, I don’t know how you can say that when we have had five elections in a row in recent memory (at least recent to old geezers like you and me) when they were nowhere near that. People’s memories are very short, but for someone who talks a lot about the 1970s I’m surprised you missed 1997-2015…

  • Alex Macfie 16th Jan '20 - 5:34pm

    % voted Tory in 1983 by age bracket:
    18-24: 42%
    35-54: 44%
    55+: 47%
    So the very youngest cohort was slightly more Tory than the next age group up. Tory support then rose with age from age 35 up, but the difference between age groups was tiny compared with now. And 1983 wasn’t very unusual in this respect at the time. I just picked it as an election year with a large Tory majority.
    The conservatism of the present Tory government is cultural rather than economic. And while people may become more fiscally and economically conservative with age, there is no evidence that they become more socially or culturally intolerant or more nationalistic (rather, they tend to stick with the attitudes they grew up with, and get overtaken by the next generation). This suggests that the Tories could be in big trouble in 5-10 years, unless they adapt to changes in cultural attitudes among (in particular) younger adults.

  • Alex Macfie 16th Jan '20 - 5:48pm

    expats: Polling evidence from the 1983 and 1987 elections suggests that SDP/Liberal Alliance voters were evenly divided between the Tories and Labour in terms of 2nd-choice party. The idea that the Tories won because the Alliance “split the vote” is nonsense.

  • Way too soon for the party to go anywhere on Education. The voters have long long memories and Tuition Fees and the lies told is such a big juicy no no. .best pick another topic. Just saying.

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Jan '20 - 6:13pm

    No, no, no! Kevin. Don’t give way to middle-class middle-way easy thinking. To put education, or health, top of the priorities is just to accept that we are an educated middle-class minority with a tendency to think of ourselves. Let’s continue to try to be radical. Let’s try to concentrate on where need is greatest – among the poor, the most disadvantaged, the homeless, the young people saddled with debt who can’t afford modern rents let alone buying a house, the families coping perhaps with several part-time zero-hours minimum-wage jobs who still find money running short and have to go to the food banks, and the single mothers and people with disabilities and the newcomers to the problems of Universal Credit. All the problems that have worsened under Tory rule and are certainly unlikely to improve now. We have a huge job to do.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jan '20 - 7:00pm

    @ Malcolm Todd,

    Possibly you’re right. Let’s hope so. It will all depend on how things develop in the next few years.

    There have been significant changes since 1997. The Pre-Brexit years of 1997 -2015 are probably not a reliable guide to what to expect in future. Also we have seen the loss of Labour’s former heartlands in Scotland. Previously safe seats there don’t look to be winnable any time soon. So any future Labour gains will have to come in England. The signs aren’t good here though! We’ve just seen the cracks in the Northern ‘red wall’. I’ve seen the changes myself in voters’ attitudes. I’m just not sure how many more Canterburys and Putneys there will be to make up for the loss of seats in Stoke, Burnley, Wrexham, Leigh etc.

    Brexit has made a huge difference. It shouldn’t be forgotten that about one third of Lib Dems were leave voters. They’ll have largely gone off to the Tories. The split at the 2005 election was Lab 35.2, Tories 32.4, Lib Dem 22.0

    If we take away Lib Dem’s leavers and add them on to the Tory vote that would put them very close to the 40% mark. Plus they’ve recruited disgruntled Labour leavers too. So we’re all relying on former Tory remainers to move the other way. The signs are that this hasn’t happened to anywhere near the extent we might have hoped.

    We’ll have to see if it does next time. Mind you, I’m not too sure how I feel about Labour’s election prospects depending on attracting the support of Remain inclined Tories. If the Lib Dems can’t do it, I don’t see how Labour can do any better.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jan '20 - 7:02pm

    Apologies. I know Wrexham is in Wales. I should have said ‘England and Wales’ rather than just England.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jan '20 - 7:29pm

    @ Ian Sanderson,

  • Peter Martin 16th Jan '20 - 7:36pm

    @ Ian Sanderson

    “The IFS said our sums added up”

    The IFS is a highly neoliberally inclined organisation, set up in the 60s by bankers and Tories to counter the prevailing Keynesian thinking of the time. It works on the basis that the Govt is a household albeit on a larger scale. This means that revenue and spending are largely independent of each other.

    This is not how it works! The IFS is not a reliable guide to sensible economic policy.

  • Katharine Pindar is correct Kevin. Yes, education is indeed important, but the two biggest priorities in the UK ought to be Poverty/Inequality and Climate Change. Poverty and inequality are a blight on our supposedly civilised society

    For some reason or other, the Party seems to want to avoid the issues of Poverty and Inequality (Guilt ? voting for the Welfare Reform Act in 1912 ). The interim Leader was embarrassed last September when I asked him face to face if he’d read the UN Report on Poverty and Inequality in the UK … No, he hadn’t, so I gave him a copy….. and our former spokesperson on Welfare failed to take part in a debate on Universal Credit last Summer….

    Today, in Edinburgh, I saw countless homeless on the streets ….. and Foodbank use is escalating enormously throughout the Uk. Between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, the Trussell Trust’s food bank network distributed 1.6 million three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 19% increase on the previous year. More than half a million of these went to children, over a third of the recipents because of Welfare cuts and Universal Credit, and a third by low wages. “ › news-and-blog › latest-stats › end-year-stats – The Trussell Trust”.

    What’s happened to a party that once boasted of Beveridge and Rowntree…. and states ‘no-one should be enslaved by poverty’ in its constitution ?

  • David Becket 16th Jan '20 - 8:48pm

    Thank you John Roffey and thank you David Raw for trying to bring this thread back into the real world.

    I made the first comment because the following defeatist statement summed up what is wrong with this party:

    “If the environment is so popular why have the Greens got fewer MPs than us? It might grab the public’s imagination but only if it doesn’t stop their train running or cost them any money. Unless Sherwood Forest bursts into flames before 2024 I don’t think the votes are there for climate change policies”

    Most of the thread then goes on to discuss the % of Lib Dem voters you can get on a pin head.

    Come off it fellow Lib Dems.

    Look at the headlines today.

    We should have responded by changing our web site from Stop Brexit to Stop Climate Change.

    We need to take action now and fast.

    Look at the other parties policies on Climate Change

    The Greens are ahead of us, Labour is not far behind us. Leave it to the Tories and Armageddon is inevitable.

    We must up the public. Every Focus should contain an article on Climate Change. Our national publicity should clear out Brexit and replace with Climate Change.

    We should start talking to the Greens to develop a common Green Deal, and providing RLB does not get the leadership of the Labour Party we might be able to bring them in. Nothing, but nothing is more important than this, and three grown up parties showing real policies (some uncomfortable) to tackle this should wake people up.

    We need to lead a national Green Deal movement.

    And yes David R, poverty actually contributes to climate change, one of our climate policies is to end fuel poverty.

    And finally for those who still want to bang on about Brexit another policy restricts us from entering Trade Deals with countries that have policies counter to the Paris Agreement. We can use that to refuse to do deals with Trump and stay close to the EU, without even using the word Brexit

  • David Becket 16th Jan '20 - 8:52pm

    We must stir up the public

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Jan '20 - 11:42pm

    Yes, the problems pf poverty and inequality in our country and of climate change, I agree with David Raw, should be top of our party’s agenda. Thank you, David, for stating again the Trussell Trust’s figures for food bank usage, with the shocking 19% increase in a year. I would like to have our party commit to seeking a steady reduction in the need for food bank handouts in the next few years, and for the premises available – perhaps those in churches – being redeveloped for social interactions, job training and opportunities and help with problems, possibly in conjunction with job centres and CABs.

  • Joseph Bourke 17th Jan '20 - 1:03am

    David Raw,
    The social metrics commission has issued its 2019 report finding:
    There are 14.3 million people in poverty in the UK. This includes 8.3 million working-age adults; 4.6 million children; and 1.3 million pension-age adults.
    This means that, despite fluctuations, overall rates of poverty have changed relatively little since the millennium. The current rate of poverty is 22%, which is the same as last year and only slightly lower than the 24% seen in 2000/01.
    However, this trend hides significant changes in rates of poverty among different groups. Poverty rates amongst pension-age adults fell steadily from 19% in 2000/01 to 9% in 2014/15, but have since risen slightly to 11%. Similarly, poverty rates among children dropped from 36% in 2000/01 to 31% in 2014/15, but have now risen slightly to 34%.
    On average, those in poverty have moved closer to the poverty line now than would have been the case in 2000/01. However, a third (31%) of people in poverty – 4.5 million people – are more than 50% below the poverty line, and this proportion has not changed since the millennium.
    Just under half (49%) of those in poverty – 7 million people – are in persistent poverty, meaning they are in poverty now and have also been in poverty for at least two of the previous three years. Rates of persistent poverty vary significantly by different groups, with 2.3 million children, 1.2 million people living in long-parent families, and 1.8 million of those living in workless households experiencing persistent poverty.
    Poverty persistence is particularly high for those in deep levels of poverty. Three fifths (59%) of those living more than 50% below the poverty line are also in persistent poverty, compared to just over a third (36%) of those living within 5% of the poverty line.
    Nearly half (48%) of people in poverty – totalling 6.8 million people – live in a family where someone is disabled.
    The poverty rate for people living in families where all adults work full time is just 10%, compared to 58% where all adults work part time and 70% in workless families.
    Poverty rates vary across the UK. Compared to the UK average of 22%, poverty rates are higher in Wales (24%) and London (28%) and lower in the South East (18%), Scotland and Northern Ireland (both 20%).

  • Peter Martin 17th Jan '20 - 8:51am

    If you are looking for a way to forge an winning alliance with the Greens and Labour, and at the same time put the fight against poverty at the top of the list then the Green New Deal has to be the ideal vehicle for that.

    David Becket says “unless Unless RLB is elected.. it should be possible to bring Labour on board”. It should be possible whoever is elected. What would be a viable argument against it? Chris Cory doesn’t like the name GND and thinks the Lib Dems should have a new one. Sorry, but that is how the plan is known internationally. The name has already stuck and it’s probably not possible to change it now.

    The GND is not simply about nibbling away at the edges of the problem. It requires a whole different approach. The problem of “who is going to pay for it” has to be addressed head on. Lib Dems are going to have to come up with something better than “put a penny on income tax”. It will mean looking at the available resources in the economy and looking at how the economy as a whole can be mobilised to fight climate change and at the same time deliver a large measure of social justice to those who are doing the work.

  • Katharine Pindar 17th Jan '20 - 9:24am

    Those are heart-breaking figures, Joseph, which we should surely remain aware of and direct our attention to in political policy-making and campaigning. Thank you for quoting them to us; there can surely be no more compelling field of action for us than this.

  • Peter Martin 17th Jan '20 - 9:27am

    @ Ian Sanderson,

    Sorry about that. I meant Neil Sandison. Must have had a few neurons firing at the wrong time !

  • Alex Macfie 16th Jan ’20 – 5:48pm………expats: Polling evidence from the 1983 and 1987 elections suggests that SDP/Liberal Alliance voters were evenly divided between the Tories and Labour in terms of 2nd-choice party. The idea that the Tories won because the Alliance “split the vote” is nonsense…………

    Alex, I a FPtP election 2nd choice votes don’t count.
    The fact remains that the 57% of non-Tory votes were equally split between Labour/Alliance. However, the 8 million Alliance votes (23 seats) got around one tenth of the Labour 8 million (209 seats) so I’d suggest that the Alliance came second in a lot of seats. Had there been any kind of ‘deal’ Mrs. T. would’ve been a footnote in history..

    BTW..your attachment shows that 1983/7 young voters showed a major ‘ blip’ from 1974 and subsequent GE’s…

  • We’re going to need more of a welfare state in the future as climate change imperatives makes huge variations in people’s living standards. Looking five years ahead, we will need to tax wealth and income more, limit individual freedoms when they damage the planet and focus more on well being and happiness. Education will play a key part though schools might become redundant as online learning increases.

  • I think the biggest problem with making Education the top issue like this, is having a five star education policy. We have a good policy, but I’d give it three stars.

    Where is the ambition to be the best educated country in the world? And how would we achieve that?

    There are some great things going on in vocational education but they need to be scaled up. And what do we do for children who aren’t suited to a vocational education? (Other than dump them in the academic stream)

    Can we break out of the short school day and the antedeluvian school year? (Not that children should be in compulsory education in the classroom for more time – well not at 5, maybe at 15.)

    How can politicians effectively challenge educational experts, who are going to be right more often than the politicians are? Ministers seem to oscillate between grumbling about “the blob” and forcing blob conformity on schools.

    These and many other questions will need answers before I give a policy five stars.

  • Chris Cory – “Generally I agree with your observations and I certainly agree that the environment is now right up the agenda. However, could we find another term to replace Green New Deal ? It makes me think of those East Coast Democrats who are going to be annihilated by Trump in the Autumn. Come to think of it, isn’t Jed Bartlet quite a good role model for our future party ?” – Please, “New Deal” is still a vert strong political message that reminds people of one of America and the world’s greatest statesmen. FDR was the man who would have made Gladstone (our greatest political figure) look small and insignificant.

    And are you saying that losing the popular vote by 3 million is annihilating? You know why Republicans always fear democratic reforms and always engage in gerrymandering and voter suppression as much as possible, because they fear rule of the majority (yes, in America the Democrats have long-term natural demographic advantage). Trump would lose the popular vote at a larger margin next year, but whether the Electoral College will help him again or not, we don’t know.

    Also, please stop spewing Trumplican “East Coast Democrats” talking points.

  • expats:

    ” In a FPtP election 2nd choice votes don’t count.”

    That’s not the point. It suggests where the Alliance vote might have gone if the Alliance had not existed. Any ‘deal’ between the Alliance and Labour would have driven many potential Alliance supporters to the Tories, potentially leading to an even bigger Tory landslide in 1983.
    It’s the same in 2019. There is no certainty that voters would have transferred neatly in either direction had there been a deal between Labour and the centrist grouping. And anyway, in both 1983 and 2019, straight Labour→Tory switchers had a much greater effect in handing the election to the Tories than any intervention by the centrist grouping (which was probably also denied seats because of it as the sort of working-class small-c conservative traditional Labour voters whom the Tories were courting then and now exist in our target seats as well).

    As for the Ipsos-Mori poll link, 1983 and 1987 are not really outliers as you seem to suggest. 1979 also shows no marked difference in Tory voting intent by age, and in 1974 it’s only in the very youngest cohort that there is any significant difference. In 2001, as well, the 18-24 cohort was apparently more Tory than 25-35yos. The marked difference in voting pattern by age grouping is a recent phenomenon. It cannot be taken for granted that young people will necessarily vote Left, nor that they will automaticallly switch to the Right with age (and besides, there’d be no social progress if everyone adopted the attitudes and values of their elders as they themselves get older).

  • kevin bennett 17th Jan '20 - 1:59pm

    yes, yes, yes, @Katherine Pindar 🙂
    Everything you say is good, its very good but you are treating the symptom not the cause and none of it is headline (vote) grabbing.
    you want to go toe to toe with labour about foodbanks?
    you are going to have to wrestle past a line of socialists before you get near a microphone.

    You have to fix the cause of all those problems, and you can only really do that with education, in the broadest sense.

    Maybe when you hear me say education you think about universities.. ?
    But I want to see a holistic approach that means that while we push out leaders of industry we also look after the kids from difficult homes. integrate schools more with their communities and build character too.
    better teachers pay attracting the best and brightest, smaller classes. After school, pre school, weekend school and summer school.
    So many of our current crop of poor quality adults were the victims of poor quality adults while they were kids, or just neglect because their parents had no time.
    Massive investment and grand plans. These are not my ideas, they are already out there in a variety of countries and they work. and they will attract attention.

  • @kevin Bennett. And by the time you’ve educated what you describe (somewhat illiberally) as the ‘poor quality kids’ they’ll have died of hunger……. which isn’t to say you’re wrong on the need to invest in education.

    And by the way, people don’t respond well to being described as ‘poor quality’….. and it also reveals the somewhat superior attitude of some Lib Dems. Show a bit of respect, Kevin.

  • kevin bennett 17th Jan '20 - 6:26pm

    @david raw – you have misquoted me.
    May I respectfully suggest you correct your comment.
    show a bit of attention to detail David.

  • Katharine Pindar 17th Jan '20 - 6:58pm

    Kevin, I’m not after ‘vote-grabbing’ policies, but for policies which meet the most significant problems of our time – and therefore should in fact attract the support of voters. We do already have good policies on education, and your approach sounds worthwhile. But I want my party to be known for trying to fix the greatest problems of our society, which to my mind are indeed poverty and inequality. And if the Labour Party is going to share the soap-box, well and good – we need co-operation on progressive policies, especially with Brexit upon us and the rule of a continuing Tory government.

  • Show a bit of attention to detail ? Like starting a sentence with a capital letter and finishing a question with a question mark, Kevin ?

    May I respectfully suggest you pay a bit of attention to Katharine ? As for me, as Chair of a Trussell Trust Foodbank which provided almost 6,000 meals (a third to children and two thirds to quality adults going through a tough time through no fault of their own last year), I’d welcome help from a line of Socialists……… as well as Tories, Lib Dems, Scot Nats and Greens.

  • Katharine Pindar – I think we can start by adopting the principle of universalism, which has been underpinning our health care system, when it comes to education (including university education) and poverty reduction as well.

  • kevin bennett 18th Jan '20 - 9:54am

    @david raw
    you misquoted me. you lied. you accused me of writing something that everyone can see i did not write.
    I dont care wot you chair or if your grammer is better than wot i can rite.
    You are an example of one of the many things wrong with our society. You make things up and attribute them to someone else. You have no regard for facts. You insult someone who disagrees with you.
    Perhaps you are a supporter of Trump and his fake news. Perhaps you cannot accept when you are wrong.
    Just accept you misread my comment, you are the one that used the phrase poor quality kids, not me.
    admit it – its there in black and white.
    i showed respect for Katherine.
    You, based on the lies you have written about me, deserve none.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Jan '20 - 8:23pm

    Most ordinary people who voted Leave did so because they were unhappy about the way our country has developed since the 1970s, with the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and control over most things going from elected government and local councils to the super-rich who are in charge of private companies.

    I.e. a large number of people voted Conservative in the 2019 general election in order to oppose what the Conservatives stand for. And our useless leadership supported the Conservatives success of building you votes in that way by doing nothing whatsoever to show sympathy and understanding for working class people who voted Leave, while at the same time explaining to them how the EU actually works, what it does, and why therefore voting Leave won’t give them the reversal of the growth of inequality that has happened in this country since 1979.

  • Katerina Porter 22nd Jan '20 - 6:26pm

    David Raw and Katherine Pindar are right – poverty , as well as climate, is our big problem in the 5/6 richest country in the World. In his UN report on poverty in Britain Peter Alston .
    said that poverty was a political decision, that our government had enough for austerity- not to be necessary and these funds had been used for the rich while austerity was doing so much damage to society and particularly to the poor.

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