Phillip Lee MP joins the Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have announced that Bracknell MP Phillip Lee has joined the party.

Phillip Lee, defecting from the Conservatives, joins the Liberal Democrats, having held the seat since 2010.

He is the fourth addition to the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party in the last few months.

Speaking after joining the party, Liberal Democrat MP Dr Phillip Lee said:

Over 27 years ago I joined the Conservative & Unionist Party led by Sir John Major. Since 2010 I have had the privilege of representing the Bracknell Constituency. The Party I joined in 1992 is not the Party I am leaving today.

This Conservative Government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways. It is putting lives and livelihoods at risk unnecessarily and it is wantonly endangering the integrity of the United Kingdom. More widely, it is undermining our country’s economy, democracy and role in the world. It is using political manipulation, bullying and lies. And it is doing these things in a deliberate and considered way.

That is why today I am joining Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats. I believe the Liberal Democrats are best placed to build the unifying and inspiring political force needed to heal our divisions, unleash our talents, equip us to take the opportunities and overcome the challenges that we face as a society – and leave our country and our world in a better place for the next generations.

Welcoming Dr Phillip Lee, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

I am delighted to welcome Phillip to the Liberal Democrats at this crucial time.

He brings almost 10 years of Parliamentary experience and decades of professional expertise. He shares our commitment to prevent a disastrous No Deal Brexit, and to stop Brexit altogether.

The Liberal Democrats are growing. Phillip follows both Chuka Umunna MP and Sarah Wollaston MP in bravely crossing the floor to join us.

Today, we also welcome Jane Dodds MP to Parliament, following her recent victory in Brecon and Radnorshire. And these representatives join over 30,000 new members, who have joined the Liberal Democrats since our best ever results in the European Elections in May.

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

98 Comments

  • Martin Land 3rd Sep '19 - 3:54pm

    Welcome. He has been an asset to Parliament and will be an asset to us.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 3rd Sep '19 - 4:05pm

    Does this mean that BJ has now lost his majority?

  • Chris Bertram 3rd Sep '19 - 4:15pm

    @Graham – Yes, he had a majority of just one, now reversed. It’s been suggested that Phillip Lee “crossed the floor” – not quite, he wasn’t sitting on the Tory benches, but when he entered the chamber instead of heading there, he went to sit with us, accompanied by Alistair Carmichael.

  • Mary Regnier-Wilson 3rd Sep '19 - 4:21pm

    And we lose the chair of LGBT+ and probably many more activists in return. Philip Lee is no liberal. Accepting him into the party just because he opposes Brexit is a complete insult to our members

  • Peter Martin 3rd Sep '19 - 4:37pm

    Just wondered if you know what you’re getting here?

    “Almost always voted against a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK”

    “Generally voted against UK membership of the EU”

    “Consistently voted against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed”

    “Consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices”

    There’s plenty more!

    https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24765/phillip_lee/bracknell/votes

  • Dennis Wake 3rd Sep '19 - 4:40pm

    Mary Regnier-Wilson: Can you explain please ?

  • Chris Bertram 3rd Sep '19 - 4:42pm

    @Peter Martin – that says that generally speaking, he was not a serial rebel against the party whip. Most MPs aren’t (the current LOTO excepted). And he’s clearly not anti-EU now, if he was in the past. I’m not going to be too hard on him, just as I think we can forgive Chuka Umunna for some disobliging statements about us in the past. It’s the way defections work.

  • Martin Land 3rd Sep '19 - 4:45pm

    Liberal Democrats are by nature a broad church. Some of our activists are a little extreme. Parties are reforming and changing. We must accept that nobody is perfect and welcome those who join us.

  • Chris Bertram 3rd Sep '19 - 4:53pm

    “And we lose the chair of LGBT+ and probably many more activists in return. ” To describe the resignation you mention as knee-jerk is to underestimate how precipitate it looks. A meeting between Oliver Cooper and Phillip Lee to iron out any misunderstandings would have been a much wiser course of action. Anyway, I really rather doubt that *many* of our activists will object to Dr Lee’s presence in the party quite as much as Mr Cooper.

  • Nonconformistradical 3rd Sep '19 - 5:20pm

    @Chris Bertram
    I agree with the general thrust of your post – it does seem precipitate – but who is Oliver Cooper? According to its website (https://lgbt.libdems.org.uk/en/page/executive)
    the Chair of LGBT= is/was Jenny Rigg – who has posted here
    https://miss-s-b.dreamwidth.org/2048873.html

  • Colin Paine 3rd Sep '19 - 5:33pm

    Brilliant…couldn’t have been better timed!

  • I’d very much like to hear from Dr Lee that he’s no longer in favour of stopping HIV+ people entering the country.

  • If a number of Con MPs become even more Independents we may well have to consider going into the election as the Lib Dem & Independent Party or some form of words that meet the wishes of the Electoral Commission. We did this on the local Council for several years and operated succesfully as a Group, till Tuition Fees decimated us..

  • Peter Martin 3rd Sep ’19 – 4:37pm………………Just wondered if you know what you’re getting here?
    “Consistently voted against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed”
    “Consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices”……………….

    You shouldn’t hold that against him. If memory serves so did Jo Swinson.

  • Paul Barker 3rd Sep '19 - 5:53pm

    I welcome Dr Lee without reservation, just as I regret the resignation of Jenny Rigg.
    British Democracy is facing its worst crisis since 1940 & we are seeing the beginnings of a massive Realignement. Inevitably that will lead lots of people to say & do things that completely contradict what they were saying & doing a few Weeks ago.
    This goes beyond some people becoming Liberals. There are millions of genuine conservatives in Britain who no longer have a Party to represent their Values. They need a New Conservative party to speak for them but We can’t be that Party. There are limits to how Broad a Party can be & keep any coherence.
    However, in the short run, we can provide a home for the more moderate, liberal Conservatives while British Politics sorts itself out. The same goes for moderate, liberal Labourites.
    This is a time for us to throw our arms wide & welcome everyone we can get.

  • Ross McLean 3rd Sep '19 - 5:56pm

    Jennie Rigg has indeed resigned from the party in response to this defection.
    https://miss-s-b.dreamwidth.org/2048873.html
    I’m sure there are two sides to every story so I will reserve judgement on Dr Lee’s alleged crimes against the gay community till I know more about them. But I do find it astonishing, given these allegations, that no-one saw fit to talk to Jenny and LGBTQ LibDems to reassure them on these matters before his defection was announced.

  • chris moore 3rd Sep '19 - 5:57pm

    @ Peter Martin

    Just wondered if you know what you’re getting here?
    “Almost always voted against a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK”
    “Generally voted against UK membership of the EU”
    “Consistently voted against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed”
    “Consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices”
    There’s plenty more!

    Hi, Peter,

    Philip Lee has gradually abandoned his earlier Euro-scepticism. He voted against the Withdrawal Agreement.

    We do want people to change their minds on issues.

    And I believe being surrounded by liberal-minded colleagues will help that shift towards a more liberal mind-set on other issues, such as LBGT+ rights.

    What’s more, as you know, whipping means that MPs often do follow a party line, when they might not be in agreement with a particular policy.

    (I’ve been unable to find the reference to him opposing immigration of HIV-infected individuals. This is surely not Conservative policy??)

  • Roger Billins 3rd Sep '19 - 6:05pm

    As a Liberal of 45 years standing I unreservedly welcome Dr Lee. This is no time for the political purity which has hindered the growth of our party in the past. I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s comment that if Hitler invaded hell he would make at least favourable referenced to the Devil in the House of Commons. Dr Lee is not the Devil but in the present circumstances a brave man.

  • Sue Sutherland 3rd Sep '19 - 6:09pm

    I’m very sorry that Jenny Rigg is resigning from the party and I can see that this acceptance of Dr Lee will be very worrying and upsetting for a lot of party members from the LGBT community. Their relatively recent freedoms have been hard won and one of the best things that happened in Coalition was equal marriage. It’s bad enough to hear members of the BXP mouthing their prejudice but the possibility that a new Lib Dem MP also holds those views is quite frightening.
    We need the clear voice of Jennie Rigg as much as we need to eliminate Boris Johnson’s majority. Surely it is possible for Phillip Lee to give a statement that he will respect the liberty of all minority groups.

  • John Marriott 3rd Sep '19 - 6:10pm

    It’s the reaction from certain quarters towards Dr Lee’s previous ‘misdemeanours’’, which worries me. I gather that the HIV issue was a case of misunderstanding. As for Mr Martin, well, we all know from which direction he’s coming.

    If some Lib Dems are going to rack over everything that a potential entrant has said or done and assess whether they are liberally pure, then I might as well give up any idea about possibly rejoining!

  • Paul Pettinger 3rd Sep '19 - 6:23pm

    No problem working with Phillip Lee closely, including in a electoral pact at the next General Election. But someone who seeks to legislate so that people with HIV can’t immigrate to the country shouldn’t be able to become a Lib Dem Party member overnight, and it’s rather squalid and leaves LGBT equality and anti-racist advocates that they can. We are not so desperate that we should accept someone with such and xenophobic views.

  • Ross McLean 3rd Sep '19 - 6:25pm

    John Marriot: “As for Mr Martin, well, we all know from which direction he’s coming.”
    Do we? I’ve never heard of him. If you have something to say John, please say it. Vague half-comments like this are quite tiresome.

  • Ross,
    Peter Martin is a self proclaimed Lexiteer, while slavishly following the hard right Brexit we are being pushed into. He pushes psedo junk economics and haunts this forum in a desperate attempt to be taken seriously. It is rather sad but I expect it is the only attention he gets. I’m afraid he is far from unique, many of our Brexi’s and Lexi’s crave attention and just want to be told they are loved and respected; unfortunately for them they fail to achieve either of those goals.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '19 - 6:54pm

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/constituencies/E14000586
    The Times 3/9/19 page 9 columns 1-3 has a photo of Jo Swinson and a headline stating
    “Lib Dems draw up target list for local pacts with Remain Tories”
    This applies to a snap election BEFORE 31 October 2019.
    “Ms Swinson is understood to believe that the party must not overreach in the coming election for fear of spreading its resources too thinly. Standing aside in some seats would allow the party to concentrate on target seats in particular areas.”
    Tweet “The Lib Dems continue to work with other parties on emergency legislation to stop this authoritarian power grab.”

  • Mention has been made of Dr Lee 2012 amendment to the Immigration Bill he set out his views on the following article.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/why-we-should-screen-immigrants-for-hiv-and-hepatitis-b-9102435.html#comments

  • John Marriott 3rd Sep '19 - 7:01pm

    @Ross McLean
    Thanks, ‘frankie’, for beating me to it. I could equally ask; “Who is Ross McLean?” As someone, who tries hard to read most, if not quite all, of the posts on LDV – and unfortunately replies to quite a few – I am very familiar with the group of LDV’s ‘agents provocateurs’ of which Peter Martin is a well known member. You obviously are enjoying a far more exciting life than me and ‘frankie’ if you are unfamiliar with these people! You need to spend more time online.

  • Chris Bertram 3rd Sep '19 - 7:07pm

    @Nonconformistradical – apologies, I seem to have picked up a name from a retweet of something, or maybe a retweet of a retweet. I haven’t delved into the minutiae of LD LGBT+ politics, which I’m sure it all my fault. Nevertheless, mutatis mutandis, my post stands.

  • Andrew McCaig 3rd Sep '19 - 7:20pm

    Frankie,
    Thanks for posting that article.
    It is clear that screening for HIV and hepatitis is not in itself homophobic. Most HIV in Africa is spread heterosexually anyway. And elsewhere a lot by drug use.
    Going on to prevent immigration on those grounds would be illiberal in my view, but not xenophobic either. By using those words I am afraid Jenny Rigg went over the top.
    On equal marriage, I believe 4 Lib Dem Mps voted against, let alone abstaining. As did some in Labour.

  • There will be thousands of people up and down the country who find that they can no longer, in conscience, stay in their former political homes. Tories sickened by the slip into populism and nationalism of their party, labour members who understand the damage that a Corbyn government might do. If they can not find a home with us, where can they ?
    It is regretable when Lib Dem members feel they can no longer stay in our party, but if Dr Lee can sign up to our core values, “a fair,free and open society”, then he is very, very welcome.

  • Paul Barker 3rd Sep '19 - 7:41pm

    When I joined in 2004 I was not asked if I had ever done or said Illiberal things, the assumption was that I was joining in good faith. That seems like the Liberal approach to me, no-one can change their own Past, any more than Our Party can.

  • Cllr Mark Wright. “Let’s pull in the remainder of the Tigs as well”. Why?

  • The LibDems are well rid of sectional narrow focus special interest groups. I won’t comment on individuals because it would be uncharitable, but some of those in these groups believe that their own views should have a monopoly on the party and would silence anyone who agrees with them.

    Philip Lee abstained on the vote on the introduction of gay marriage and explained his reasons for doing so in his local newspaper here:
    https://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/dr-phillip-lee-abstained-gay-4192595

  • Some resent Lib Dem MPs haven’t had quite a pure voting record on LGBT+ issues. Colin Breed, John Pugh, Tim Farron…

    I don’t think it’s liberal, or that it’s even OK, but I mean that the MPs haven’t required to be liberal on all issues before.

  • Patrick: You can add to your list: Alan Beith, Greg Mulholland, Sarah Teather, Gordon Birtwistle.

    The idea that there’s something peculiarly liberal about supporting gay marriage is a nonsense. The idea of gay marriage has only existed since the 1970s and, to any meaningful extent, since the 1990s. Originally many gay people were opposed to the idea as reinforcing an outdated and bourgeois institution – including one of my colleagues who is still in his 40s so far from old.

    I’m very wary of those who look to police doctrinal orthodoxy and always try to put views they don’t like outside the pale. The LibDems are much better off without that sort.

  • @Rob Cannon, I happen to be homosexual myself, and think that liberalism requires that people are treated equally before the law, even us homosexuals.

    That said, I also think, that there probably hasn’t many Lib Dem MPs who have reached 100% ideological purity. If it hasn’t been the treatment of sexual and gender minorities, it has been something else. And because I think people should be treated equally, I think that Phillip Lee shouldn’t be rejected because of something, that other Lib Dem MPs have done, as well.

    Though I wish he has seen his errors and changed his views regarding the position of LGBT+ people.

  • If one reads what Phillip Lee has actually said – rather than what some people seem to want us to believe he said – a more nuanced picture emerges.

    On health screening part of his case is for early diagnosis to the benefit of the sufferer. (Which we already do for other diseases, and which other countries do for HIV)

    On equal marriage he argued for open civic recognition of partnerships, with marriage being left to whatever institutions choose to offer it. Which is pretty close to my view, except I would call the civic element marriage.

    The state will register your marriage with all relevant legal effects. If you want your union recognised by an Imam, Vicar, Rabbi or Jedi High Priest that’s up to you.

  • … and them.

    I should have added.

  • John Marriott,

    I gather that the HIV issue was a case of misunderstanding

    Here is the amendment Phillip Lee proposed – (no misunderstanding):

    ‘(1) The Secretary of State may by order provide that persons who apply for immigration permission must demonstrate that they are not carriers of any of the prescribed pathogens listed in subsection (2).
    (2) The prescribed pathogens are –
    (a) Hepatitis B;
    (b) HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus);
    (c) such other pathogens as the Secretary of State may prescribe by order under this section.’.

  • David Becket 3rd Sep '19 - 8:45pm

    Has Jenny and others thinking of leaving read this;
    https://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/dr-phillip-lee-abstained-gay-4192595

    Please do not go, we need you all, now is not the time to walk away.

  • Is there any hope, that Justine Greening and Margot James would join the Lib Dems, as well? And why not also Guto Bebb, Dominic Grieve and Sam Gyimah, into the bargain?

  • Before anybody rushes in to make comments about Dr Philip Lee, it would be instructive for them to visit the website below. Britain incidentally has one of the poorest screening systems for Hepatitis in the world.

    Hepatitis B Positive Trust (national)
    Website and information line for people with Hepatitis B
    http://www.hepbpositive.org.uk
    0800 206 1899

  • I don’t think I agree with commentators that the Lib Dems should not be willing to welcome Dr Lee into a broader liberal coalition. But I would encourage people not to let that slide into a brushing off of immigration constraints based on a health condition which, if treated appropriately, presents no barrier to a full and active contribution to the social and economic life of this country. Australia, New Zealand and, less stringently, Canada all apply this policy — so, Chris Morris, it absolutely could become policy here.

    Responding to Andrew McCaig, while it tends to be associated with homophobia, in my view, it’s actually a monstrous form of discrimination all on its own. It often fails to consider individual circumstances (e.g., in Australia the equivalent of the Chief Medical Officer is expressly forbidden from considering the merits of individual cases; if an immigrant does not comply with the health requirements set in law, only political intervention by the Minister can make exceptions. Immigrants can be left in limbo for months or years not knowing if they are to be deported), thus devaluing people as human beings. It requires people to disclose private health information multiple times to faceless bureaucrats. And it can create perverse secondary incentives to seek testing and treatment for immigrants who are already in country, but would risk deportation if their seroconversion were known.

    In short, it is a terrible, massively illiberal thing that could quite easily be Tory policy, and should be vigorously opposed

  • Mary Regnier-Wilson 3rd Sep '19 - 10:34pm

    My issue is indeed with the amendment that Phillip Lee proposed, which not only suggested screening immigrants (which I could possibly support if the reason was to reset without stigmatising. But as the wording clearly shows the amendment would have banned HIV positive immigrants from getting Visas.

    But more than the original amendment I object to his attitude today – when questioned about it on the BBC he said he stood by what he said in 2014 and to those criticising his record “”I would point out to those individuals that they’re defaming my character and they should be careful about what they say”.

    More than anything I object to the fact that our leadership seems to have forgotten some of the basic principles of our party and how we win elections. No LibDem MP has ever been elected without a large team of motivated members to help them get elected. We always have a shortage of resources and competition for them in target seats. I cannot imagine that vast numbers of liberals will be flocking to Bracknell to re-elect someone with Lee’s views and attitude, especially when there are excellent, hardworking people in nearby constituencies with excellent liberal values and larger teams. And so his time as a LibDem MP will probably be short and we will lose his seat at the next election and lose principled activists in the meantime

  • Ken Clarke and others may not be coming over to the Lib Dem side, but will they endorse the Tory party or the Lib Dem’s at the next GE? Think there is a strong chance they will tell the public to vote Lib Dem. That would be big news.

  • I’m saddened that Jenni – who I’ve known for a number of years and worked on on Calderdale campaigns at a number of elections has felt she had to resign.

    LGBT+ Lib Dems have issued a stronger statement as well.

    I’ve submitted a formal complaint about Dr Lee based on his previous comments and today’s reported comments which IMO show a lack of respect for his supposed new colleagues.

    As a matter of party rules he hasn’t, as yet, joined the party. He has applied to join and is not a member until the membership has been accepted by his local party.

    The party shouldn’t accept people into membership who don’t share the values of the party. That is an idea that has been forgotten in recent years as anyone who is sufficiently anti-Brexity has been welcomed. That doesn’t mean you can’t work with people who only partially share the values of the party – Dominic Grieve, Nick Boles, Ken Clarke etc etc can all be strong and powerfull allies who can be respected and worked with. But they aren’t Liberals and shouldn’t be accepted as members were they (and this is unlikely) to apply.

  • The LibDems need to make a big bold offer to the Conservative rebels who voted against no deal brexit tonight.

    Gladstone started out his career as a Tory. He left the Tories with Sir Robert Peel in 1846 following the repeal of the Corn Laws. He came in as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Aberdeen’s coalition government of 1852 between the Whigs and the Peelites. Gladstone started his career in 1833 as a reactionary Tory opposing both the abolition of slavery and factory legislation. He ended it in 1894 as the most left-wing Prime Minister the U.K. had seen to that date – making it a condition of ministers to resign directorships of public companies and finally passing an Irish home rule bill through the House of Commons (only to have it blocked by the House of Lords). And Gladstone is not the only such example. His predecessor Lord Palmerston, the first Liberal prime minister, first joined the cabinet in 1809 as Secretary of War under Tory Spencer Perceval.

    Most of the Conservative rebels are in seats that LibDems have no hope of winning: Dominic Grieve in Beaconsfield; Rory Stewart in Penrith and the Border; David Gauke in South West Hertfordshire; Sam Gyimah in East Surrey; Antoinette Sandbach in Eddisbury.

    There are differences: Dominic Grieve and Sam Gyimah have consistently supported a People’s Vote whereas Rory Stewart and Antoinette Sandbach have not. But remember, less than a year ago Jo Johnson was appearing at People’s Vote rallies and now he sits in his brother’s no deal cabinet (https://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2019/07/29/jo-johnson-and-amber-rudd-u-turns-signal-a-broader-decline-i) I would take one Antoinette Sandbach over 100 Jo Johnsons.

    What is the point in the LibDems contesting seats that are held by people who have always been decent fair-minded MPs – certainly compared with Chuka Umunna? There are other Conservative MPs who are close to the exit door: Jonathan Djanogly, Vicky Ford, Huw Merriman.

    We need to avoid the voice that says every Tory is evil, that paints Jo Swinson as a second Margaret Thatcher. We need to avoid the evil factionalism of Asquith and Lloyd George that almost destroyed the Liberal Party. Remember Gladstone. Remember Palmerston. Bring them in and we achieve the successes in the 21st century that the Liberal governments between 1852 to 1885 did in the 19th.

  • There is, however, a risk that the influx of Tories can drive the party towards the rise if the same number of Labour supporters do not go Liberal at the same time. If we, assume successfully, try to displace the Tories as the main centre-right party like certain Orange Bookers want, eventually we will end up no more liberal than the Liberal Party of Australia. Shifting to the right will eventually lead to a strategy of courting Tory-leaning rural and uneducated folks (such strategies always tend to be anti-science and anti-intellectual). This was what exactly happened to the US Republican Party during its long transition from a progressive force into the Party of Trump.

    On the other hand, the natural liberals are mostly found among the knowledge workers, students, civil servants and public sector employees, intellectuals, scientists, engineers and professionals, and also the more progressive businesspeople… Most of them are found in cities, not Tory-leaning rural areas.

  • Andrew McCaig 4th Sep '19 - 6:52am

    Rob Cannon,
    We also need to stick to our constitution, which is far from being Tory. Defectors need to fit in.
    One of the mistakes of 2010.

  • As I no longer support this party it’s reception of Phillip Lee is up to it; after all, his choreographed ‘switch’ made good viewing.
    However, what I find distateful are the ‘digs’ at Jennie Rigg for’not understanding the situation regarding Phillip Lee’s history.
    I cannot think of any other situation when LGBT concerns would have been so cavalierly treated.

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th Sep '19 - 8:57am

    @ Mike Stamp,

    It is my understanding that he is not the first defector to the Liberal Democrats who signed up to the amendment. It seems that it is just Jennie Rigg’s resignation which has hit the national press, that is highlighting this sort of thing.

    @ Andrew McCaig,

    Unfortunately I do not live in the constituency of some of the quite noble and honourable tories such as , Sam Gyimah and Dominic Grieve, if I did I would vote for them. It was really upsetting to listen to Sam speaking last night and it cannot be underestimated how much of a personal sacrifice they have made , and the emotional toll it has taken.

    These are extraordinary times. Not least because we have a PM and government that is an embarrassment. I thank all who made last night’s vote possible.

  • @ Andy Hinton, I think that a “broad church” means, that everyone has a right to one or to quirks, exceptions of the liberalism, as long as they follow liberalism in general. Such exceptions won’t change the big picture. If each individual has different exceptions, they will remain minority in the group, and won’t affect the way it works.

    I think it’s a bit hypocrite to demand something from Phillip Lee, that hasn’t been demanded in recent past from Lib Dem MPs who didn’t come from other parties. How can anybody realistically expect, that MPs joining from other parties should be more liberal than the original Lib Dem MPs? I’m optimistic that when they aren’t anymore voting under their old whip, they will vote in a more liberal fashion.

  • “On the other hand, the natural liberals are mostly found among the knowledge workers, students, civil servants and public sector employees, intellectuals, scientists, engineers and professionals, and also the more progressive businesspeople… Most of them are found in cities, not Tory-leaning rural areas.”

    I cannot express how concerning I find these sentiments. It wasn’t these voters that won the recent Brecon and Shetland by-elections for the LibDems. It wasn’t these voters that sustained Liberal seats during the long years of 1945 to 1979. And no mention at all of lower income / working class voters.

    “Shifting to the right will eventually lead to a strategy of courting Tory-leaning rural and uneducated folks (such strategies always tend to be anti-science and anti-intellectual).”

    Here is a taste of the anti-religion bigotry that has so damaged the LibDems in Richmond and sees hard line Brexit MP Zac Goldsmith sit in a seat that decent LibDem MPs held for years.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '19 - 10:21am

    Christian 3rd Sep ’19 – 11:05pm Ken Clarke MP said on TV on 3/9/19 that he is a Conservative and will retire at the next general election. He said it should not be assumed that he will vote today 4/9/19 for the motion proposed
    Roger Gale MP (North Thanet) said that Greg Clark MP (Tunbridge Wells) was “sworn at” which Roger Gale strongly deplores. “No way to behave”.

  • @Rob Cannon “We need to avoid the voice that says every Tory is evil, that paints Jo Swinson as a second Margaret Thatcher. We need to avoid the evil factionalism of Asquith and Lloyd George that almost destroyed the Liberal Party. Remember Gladstone. Remember Palmerston. Bring them in and we achieve the successes in the 21st century that the Liberal governments between 1852 to 1885 did in the 19th.”

    Agree 100%. Let’s leave impotent ideological purity to Labour Momentum and the Johnson Conservatives BXP.

    We win big by being broad.

  • @Andy Hinton “He was advocating keeping migrants with those diseases out. As he wrote in his Independent article at the time: “Unless these diseases are also treated in an immigrant’s home country, we also risk burdening our health service with their treatment.””

    Do you advocate advertising for any citizen of any country to come to the UK for medical treatment?

    If, as I presume, you don’t, what do you think the motivation for someone who has the wherewithal to travel to the UK, and knowledge that they have a treatable condition, might be?

    Do you think that the taxpayers of the UK should foot the bill for treating any citizen, of any country, who chooses to travel to the UK?

    Are you aware of any healthcare systems in any comparable European countries that operate on that basis?

  • Paul Barker 4th Sep '19 - 2:50pm

    This Party has about 110,000 Members. Just how many Ex-Conservatives joining would it need to push us to The Right ?
    Do we normally expect New Members to explain their previous behaviour ?
    We need to have a bit more confidence in our own Ideas & Values.
    Yes, it would be nice if we got some Defections from Labour as well but we have no influence over that except to be Open & welcoming.
    We have been wittering on about Realignement for the last Half-Century, lets show that we meant it.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Sep '19 - 5:37pm

    Rob Cannon: I live in the Richmond Park constituency. Lib Dems’ narrow defeat there in the 2017 election was due to a multitude of factors, some national, some local. Tim Farron’s blunders on gay sex and “sin” (which were much more about the presentation than the substance of his position) certainly lost us votes, but no more than anywhere else in the country. There was still (and is still) a Zacolyte cult in parts of the constituency. Better organisation of activists, especially in the four North Kingston wards, would also have helped us.
    While you can say that it’s a seat that “LibDem MPs held for years” (I’ll leave aside the quesiton of whether Jenny Tonge was a “decent Lib Dem”), it’s always been marginal, and was first won by us in 1997. Zac Goldsmith captured the seat from us in 2010.

    I don’t think “anti-religion bigotry” is really a big thing, and that sort of talk mainly comes from the Religious Right. It certainly wasn’t a particular factor in the Richmond Park campaign. But the garden-variety pro-religion (or anti-secular) bigotry has affected us in the past; it was likely the reason Evan Harris narrowly lost his seat (OxWAB) to the Tories in 2010.

    However, I don’t think that Phillip Lee’s view on gay marriage is likely to affect the party nationally; maybe in his constituency it will be an issue, but he’s unlikely to hold his seat anyway. He isn’t the party leader, and he’s unlikely to play a major role in the election campaign. He’s a relatively unknown MP but for his defection to us.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '19 - 6:01pm

    The local paper in Greg Clark’s constituency reports today (Wednesday) that his local conservative party is being infiltrated by supporters of Arron Banks.
    Greg Clark has made it clear that he continues to oppose No Deal.
    After the 2016 referendum he said that he would continue to support Remain, but he voted for Article 50.
    He is one of the 21 MPs who have had the whip withdrawn by Boris Johnson.
    I understand from the debates in the Commons today that if a local Conservative party wishes to re-adopt in these circumstances they would need to seek central permission.

  • Rob Cannon – you know, courting the right-wing was the main reason why the Republican Party degenerated from a progressive party during the 1850s into the Party of Trump.

    Also, regarding the UK, things are different now. Now, the decline of organized labour politics and the rise of “knowledge-based workforce” and university/college graduates in big cities, together with the rise of social issues in politics, mean that there is a wide opening opportunity for us. Meanwhile, you are not going to compete with the Tories for votes from Trumpist-sque uneducated and rural populace (rural areas other than the South West), especially the uneducated group. Genuine liberal politics have no place for numbskull policies and promises to placate uneducated votes. A liberal party is never going to be a “party of the uneducated” (such thing is a natural platform of conservative politics: offering numbskulk promises and parroting anti-intellectual narrative).

    Look, currently, natural liberals, especially centre-left liberals, are the urban middle-class and progressives, and urban working class as well depending on certain cases. In America, a typical liberal would be a New York/Massachusetts professional, or a San Francisco tech engineer, not a Deep South MAGA bigot. In Canada, a typical liberal would be a Toronto Bay Street professional/academic, not a Prairie farmer.

    The recent surge of the Greens in Germany have shown us the correct way to go. The Grune moderates their economic platform (which is pretty centrist currently) and adopted social liberalism and thus gained loads of support from urban middle-class and young people.

  • In general it would be foolish to dismiss concerns about losing liberal activists over the issue of defectors from other parties who aren’t sufficiently liberal. Mary Reigner-Wilson is an indispensible colleague intrumental in our victory in South Cambs last year and in Chelmsford council this year. However, I have to disagree with Mary and others in this instance.

    Firstly in Bracknell the Lib Dem vote at the last GE was 7.5% way behind both Labour and Dr Lee. Losing activists? Neither here nor there. I think it’d be a miracle if he kept that seat and I’d be surprised if he or others think otherwise.

    Secondly it’s my view that it’s not illiberal for certain African countries to refuse you entry if you haven’t got proof of vaccination against yellow fever. There are worse sins against liberalism that suggesting migrants should have proof of HIV/HepB tests, and yesterday I read Dr Lee’s article in the Independent defending his actions in 2014.

    Thirdly, I’ve voted Lib Dem at every possible election since coming of age in 1987 as a reformist, not a “liberal geek”. In those 32 years we’ve reformed sweet FA and I’m not about to throw away the opportunity to reform the UK (arising as a consequence of the massive upheavel of UK politics that Brexit has caused) by engendering a narrow, liberal clique rather than hoover up as many moderates, centre-left and centre-right MPs and voters as is practicable. When we have electoral reform and a new UK politics, we can be as hard-core Liberal as we like. But not now.

  • (Part 2)
    Fourthly, many complain about Dr Lee’s conservative views on LGBT rights. I say this: LGBT rights are on a slow and steady march forwards. It’s a long, slow battle and always will be, but progress has been made over several decades (oh, and with Lib Dems only having been in power for five of those years) and, one way or another, will continue to be made.

    Having read on some Lib Dem forums that a few people think the party are “throwing the LGBT community under a bus, and it’s unforgivable” or “gaslighting the LGBT community” by letting Dr Lee join, I’m absolutely livid. Why? Because right now, however, the lives of many EU citizens in the UK are being turned upside down by Brexit. My wife, Alena, who is Czech, and my mother-in-law too, are such people. Do you want to hear what little proof my mother-in-law has got of her life in the UK?

    This is a binary issue and it is immediate. It needs solving, now. Anyone who threatens the progress of a broader anti-Brexit alliance – and that involves politicians changing parties not just working together – by believing that a narrow set of core liberal values always trump everything else is jeopardising the future of life of many EU citizens in the UK. I welcome Dr Phillip Lee. Maybe in the future a better political landscape will provide both us and him with closer political homes, but not now.

  • John Peters 4th Sep '19 - 6:39pm

    You can’t be a Conservative Party candidate if the whip is withdrawn. The whip can only be restored by CCHQ.

    It’s quite common for unpopular local MPs to blame entryism for their unpopularity. I have no idea if that is the case for Mr Clark. As far as I know previous claims have been dismissed by local party members.

  • Michael Kilpatrick 4th Sep ’19 – 6:17pm………………….In general it would be foolish to dismiss concerns about losing liberal activists over the issue of defectors from other parties who aren’t sufficiently liberal……………………..

    But ?

  • Paul Barker 4th Sep '19 - 8:01pm

    I don’t see anyone rejoicing over the resignations, we just think that the resigners are wrong.
    Its impossible to overstate the crisis we are in, we need to do everything we can to Stop Brexit & that includes being more Open, Tolerant & Liberal than we have been. We need as many people on board as we can get.

  • @Michael Kilpatrick “Thirdly, I’ve voted Lib Dem at every possible election since coming of age in 1987 as a reformist, not a “liberal geek”. In those 32 years we’ve reformed sweet FA and I’m not about to throw away the opportunity to reform the UK (arising as a consequence of the massive upheavel of UK politics that Brexit has caused) by engendering a narrow, liberal clique rather than hoover up as many moderates, centre-left and centre-right MPs and voters as is practicable. When we have electoral reform and a new UK politics, we can be as hard-core Liberal as we like. But not now.”

    I agree 100% with this and came of age at a very similar time.

    How interesting that we are of like minds, yet the generation above us is almost implacably against this attitude. Very telling.

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th Sep '19 - 10:37pm

    We are lucky to have the website ‘ They work for you’ and are able to get the measure of a politician from that.

    I can understand the , I would do anything to stop Brexit argument. Those who hold it have every right to do so, but to describe the latest incarnation of the Liberal Democrats Party as a ‘broad church’ , seems somewhat euphemistic.

  • Thomas: I have more interest in real life politics in this country than superficial analysis of other countries. However, you are simply wrong when you say this:

    “The recent surge of the Greens in Germany have shown us the correct way to go. The Grune moderates their economic platform (which is pretty centrist currently) and adopted social liberalism and thus gained loads of support from urban middle-class and young people.”

    The German Greens have not been exhibiting much of a surge in real life elections: last weekend 8.6% in Saxony and 10.8% in Brandenburg.

    And in the only German state in which the Greens lead a state government, Baden-Wurttemberg, their leader, Winfried Kretschmann, is a 70 year old devout Catholic who is heavily involved in the church (not my words, those of Deutsche Welle here: https://www.dw.com/en/we-are-not-a-party-of-naysayers-says-first-green-premier/a-14950846).

  • Alex Macfie 5th Sep '19 - 8:28am

    Andrew Hickey: These resignations are not “unimportant”, just mistaken. The idea that the addition of one member who has expressed questionable views on certain issues is going to change the character of the party overnight is just not true, especially when we have much higher profile members with even more questionable views on the same or similar issues.
    And regarding the three out LBT women who held any formal position in the party structure, it may have escaped your notice that most ordinary voters will have no idea who any of them are. People who don’t follow politics closely neither know nor care who is in party structures. And Phillip Lee’s views on what are (let’s be honest) second-order issues for most voters are not going to be the focus of the next election campaign for us. Yes, I know about Tim Farron, but he was our leader. Phillip Lee is a backbencher who will almost certainly lose his seat. Our opponents are going to focus on current leader Jo Swinson’s coalition voting record, which is on what most voters consider to be first-order issues.
    I agree with Rob and others on “doctrinal orthodoxy”. I would not want us becoming a version of Momentum or ERG.

  • John Bicknell 5th Sep '19 - 9:03am

    Interesting to hear on R4 this morning, the views of a group of working-class ex-Labour voters in Grimsby. They expressed their disillusionment with Labour (under its current leader), were never going to vote Conservative (the party of the privileged), and, mostly, were dismissive of the Brexit Party (a one-issue cause). Most of them suggested they would probably vote Lib Dem. We should not be too quick to assume who our natural voters are (middle-class professionals etc). The ground is shifting fast, and there are many who are looking for a new political home.

  • David Evans 5th Sep '19 - 9:25am

    It is always disappointing when a good Lib Dem chooses to leave the party for any reason, even one who you may disagree with on that issue. Certainly Jennie Rigg will be sadly missed by me and many others. However, we all need to remember that Liberal Democracy is not a tick box checklist of views that must be adhered to, but as the Preamble to the Constitution tells us a set of three fundamental values that must be balanced, and so someone who believes particularly in personal liberty is not necessarily a better Lib Dem or a worse one than one who believes more in equality or community values. Their judgement lead them to a different balance. That in itself is not a problem, but a source of diversity and strength.

    Of course while each of us believes that our balance is the right one, every one of us also knows that we cannot achieve everything all at once so some things have to be sacrificed to a greater or lesser degree to achieve success in others. Especially as we are now once again a rather small party in a big and increasingly vicious pond

    That was the problem we found in coalition where a lot of Lib Dem principles were sacrificed (particularly those relating to economic equality and equality in law) in order to progress on others, particularly equal marriage. Whether that was right is a matter of personal judgement. However, the one thing that cannot be argued against is that the balance that our leaders chose was ultimately disastrous for the party’s chances to carry on and do more once coalition was over.

    Over that time a lot of good Lib Dems chose to leave the party, because they disagreed with the direction it was going, rather than stay and fight for the values they particularly supported. This was catastrophic because at a time we were losing the support of many voters, we also lost a great many excellent advocates for Liberal Democracy.

  • @Alex McFie agreed. A measured and proportionate response.

    @thomas I agree with @Rob Cannon. There are clear and distinct differences in philosophy between the UK Green Party and ourselves. The former is an unashamedly left wing (socialist) party in its economic stance.

    That’s a legitimate stance, but it’s not a Liberal one.

  • David Evans 5th Sep '19 - 9:26am

    Final and most important part/

    However all that choosing to walk away does is weaken the values you support. And that is why I would urge Jennie to reconsider. Whether I agree with her on any particular issue or not. Whether she agrees with me, or whether either of us agrees with Phillip Lee. The only losers if she leaves will be herself, the values she supports and the Liberal Democrats.

    Please stay Jennie.

  • TCO – I was talking about German Grune, which has become centrist economically recently while maintaining progressive social positions to attract urban middle-class.

    John Bicknell – I mean our natural pool of voters are people in cities and urban centres, which vote Remain heavily, both middle-class and working-class.

  • John Littler 5th Sep '19 - 7:36pm

    This is not a time to whinge about purity of thought. Politics is partly a numbers game and 1st off, we need to beat brexit and then we can go back to relative normal and build a better economy and society. Otherwise, there WILL be shortages of fresh food in two weeks, with medicines and fuels short some time after. People will die.
    It may not be possible to reverse it quickly and it could take years, with re-negotiations on worse terms, although far better than the alternative.

  • “Fourthly, many complain about Dr Lee’s conservative views on LGBT rights. I say this: LGBT rights are on a slow and steady march forwards.”

    I don’t think you are paying attention to the direction of travel. Attacks on trans people are increasingly morphing into attacks on the wider LGB community. And it is part of a deliberate strategy. Nothing says that LGBT rights must constantly move forwards.

  • I’m aware that there is a certain vocal set of (often nasty) people against trans rights, Hywel, but I still believe the direction of travel is forwards over time even though it is and has been always at a pretty slow pace and with many bumps in the road. The reason I mentioned this was in the context of the rights of EU citizens in the UK whose position does not appear to be as promised by Brexiters. Brexit is happening here and now. It’s rather a binary thing, yes or no, in a month or so. There isn’t really a “direction of travel which, albiet rather slow, is a sign of progress”. That’s why, along with other important issues such as the general reform of UK politics, I think it’s necessary for the party to be a broad church at least until we have PR and better politics and an environment in which liberals can then be unfettered liberals, socialists can be unfettered socialists, and so on.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Sep '19 - 8:20am

    Andrew Hickey: I don’t think it’s patronising to say that IMO it is a gross overreaction to leave the party over one individual simply because you disagree with the individual’s views on something. I don’t see what it has to do with “safety” either, unless the individual has a history of actively encouraging or condoning violent homophobia. I (unusually) agree with David Evans above; we can’t reduce liberalism (or any other ideology) to a checklist. And while Phillip Lee’s previously expressed views have some relevance, I would wait and see what he does as a Lib Dem before deciding whether he fits in with our party (although in all likelihood he’ll lose his seat and so it’ll be moot as he’ll be just an ordinary member, of only local significance).

  • Ian Dale writing in Conservative Home today, reflecting on when he competed against Philip Lee in the selection at Bracknell, 2010.

    “The point is: Lee is no more a Liberal Democrat than I am. His views on Brexit may partially coincide with theirs, but on virtually everything else he’s a true blue Tory. I wonder how comfortable he will feel with them. No more comfortable than Chuka Ummuna, I imagine.”

    Interesting – or just mischief making ? Time will tell.

  • I see the latest recruit is Rob Flello – another opponent of same sex marriage – and also abortion. Just saying.

  • And Zoe O’Connell has resigned as well.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Sep '19 - 9:30am

    Hywel: Never heard of the guy, which means hardly any ordinary voters will have either. And votes on the issues mentioned are unwhipped in Parliament, for good reason. We start insisting on doctrinal orthodoxy on conscience issues, and we could end up with PM Johnson or Ress-Mogg whipping his MPs against abortion. Be careful what you wish for.

  • I thoroughly disagree with indivduals who are anti abortion, against gay equality etc etc. However we cannot be so puritan can we as to take discriminate against those in the party who may disagree. I can assure some on this site that there are a lot of Labour and Lib Dem voters who are not “Liberal” in the sense they do not support abortion, gay rights etc, likewise there are 12% of LIb Dem voters who want to leave the EU. A political party has to be a broad church if it wants power. We must stop being so finneky. I will now put my head below the parapet.

  • If we want power we have to be a broad church, that is reality.

  • I’m still waiting for a formal acknowledgement to the complaint submitted about Dr Lee on 3rd Sept – which should have happened within 48 hours.

Post a Comment

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

This post has pre moderation enabled, please be patient whilst waiting for it to be manually reviewed. Liberal Democrat Voice is made up of volunteers who keep the site running in their free time.

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

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

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

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

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSteve Trevethan 16th Sep - 3:47pm
    Thank you for raising an important matter. Might it be the case that governments create money first and then tax some of it back? If...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 16th Sep - 3:23pm
    Yes, if they had a majority mandate from a General Election based on a manifesto saying that. But none did.
  • User AvatarSean Hyland 16th Sep - 3:19pm
    Would it be too hard if once in a while the party put up a general notice with some rough figures/percentages - a kind of...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 16th Sep - 2:27pm
    This coffee cup tax on Costa cups that the Tories stopped.That is one idea to re-introduce but at a cheaper rate. That is one idea...
  • User Avatartheakes 16th Sep - 2:27pm
    By the way, in the Gym yesterday and overhead conversation about Brexit. "Aye, it is getting like the 1640's, Johnson needs to be careful, I...
  • User AvatarTerry 16th Sep - 2:23pm
    Worth noting, Richard, that £100 in 1988 = nearly £300 in 2019. All in favour of more personal thanking, though.
Thu 10th Oct 2019