Six famous Lib Dem voters*

We at LDV Towers were quietly distressed by the recent outing of Eddie Izzard as a Labour supporter (and at that, one who seems to be supporting an imagined Labour party of the mid-1960s as opposed to the mediocre corporatist authoritarians who are actually in power).

Cake or death will never be the same again. So to drum up some liberal Christmas cheer, I thought I’d take a look at a few other sleb-types whose card, I think, is marked with a big yellow X.

1. Bill Bailey

On the face of it, the musician, stand-up and “wizard in a call centre” is a classic Green: scraggy little beard, West Country provenance, likes odd music, a vegetarian (albeit of the postmodern variety: “I eat meat ironically”) and generally into, you know, alternative stuff, hem(p) hem(p).

But all those things are commonly reckoned to be traditional Lib Dem characteristics as well, and I think he’s just a bit too live and let live, a bit too much his own Kling-on motivational speaker to take kindly to some of the Greens’ extremer authoritarian attitudes. Painting your toenails to look like talons so that you can pick up mice with your feet and pretend you’re an eagle (“It’s an hour, innit”) is not the stuff of which socialist states are built. But it’s fine by us…

Key liberal message: “The day after tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life… That way, you’ve always got a couple of days in hand.”

2. Jarvis Cocker

Technically, the singer-songwriter and former Pulp frontman’s card isn’t marked with anything, as he lives in Paris these days. But it’s yer basic cultural leadership we’re talking about here. Jarvis hails from Sheffield, not far from Nick Clegg country, and Pulp’s biggest ever success, 1995’s Different Class, is one long angry rant against intolerance and the pressure to conform. The sleevenote on my dog-eared CD insert reads: “Please understand, we don’t want no trouble, we just want the right to be different, that’s all.”

The man who mooned the audience during a Messiah-like Michael Jackson performance clearly has no truck with pompous authority, and it still makes him angry these days, hence his recent musical observation that “c***s are still running the world”. All that and an environmentalist too.

Key liberal message: “We don’t look the same as you. And we don’t do the things you do. But we live round here too (oh really).”

3. Ian Hislop

The editor of Private Eye can’t really afford to express a political preference. But Ian has always looked and sounded like a liberal – as horrified and furious with state monolithism and incompetent bureaucracy as he is with sleaze and spin. And, yes, a bit small and odd-looking – the signs are all there. If the Iraq War didn’t move his vote into the yellow corner, I reckon civil liberties will – it’s not a big vote-winner for us yet because few people apart from society’s natural pioneers care enough, but Ian is probably one of the natural pioneers.

There have been two occasions recently when he has come close to outing the big yellow bird in his closet – first on Question Time in Bournemouth during September conference when he responded to a question about the Lib Dems’ “irrelevance” by pointing out that the conference taking place around them was concerned with the exact same issues the audience were -“I think they’re worth listening to.” Then there was a telling little moment on HIGNFY recently when David Mitchell came out with some predictable cheap shot or other and then stumbled over his next line.

Ian’s response was also his key liberal message: “And you say the Lib Dems are shit [mock-injured tone]. Vince Cable predicted the financial crisis, you can’t even read an autocue.”

4. Michael Palin

Yes, Monty Python frequently poked the cotton bud of mockery into the sticky ear wax of authority, and particularly political authoritarianism (“Up the Judaean People’s Front!”), but it’s Palin’s post-Python career that’s really telling. Such an inveterate and optimistic traveller can’t not be liberal. To walk into as many countries, political systems, domestic tableaux and chaotic railway stations as Palin has takes a special kind of tolerance and an active love of plurality. The ideal tourist in British beauty spots leaves nothing and takes nothing away – and what is that, writ large, if not a liberal?

Key liberal message: “I set out with considerable excitement in May 2006, and, a year later I find myself neither disillusioned nor cynical. The spirit of New Europe does exist, the hopes and dreams still burn and the future is full of opportunity. Our journey might just have been through a very small window in history and my natural tendency to optimism and half-full glasses may have misled me, but whatever the future holds I think it is important to have marked this moment when, for the first time in a thousand years, the old Europe of domination and conflict has been replaced by a new Europe of co-operation. Let’s, for all our sakes, hope that we can make it work.”

5. Will Young

I give you: ex-politics student, gay, in favour of STV. No known Doctor Who affiliation, but nonetheless I rest my case. It’s also interesting that despite the squillions of riches, he still apparently has housemates because he prefers it that way – not for him the conformist atomisation of property-obssessive Britain.

Key liberal messages :

“The Government focuses on the wrong things. We are in such a nanny society, a politically correct society with such reactionary politics”

“I’d like a single transferable vote, because I think it would make more sense, particularly for the Lib Dems because they get such a big vote and such a tiny percentage of the House of Commons.”

“I got so cross about my local post office in Cornwall shutting down, I wrote an article about it for a local paper.”

6. Jon Snow

No evidence whatsoever for this one. I just weally, weally want it to be true. How could you read, digest and research the news every single day and not realise that the Lib Dems are the only mainstream vote worth dropping into the ballot box. Give us a vote for Christmas, Jon!

* Probably.

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  • I think you will find Will Young, probally Ian Hislop and certainly Jon Snow vote Conservative!

  • Great post!

    Although Annon 101, are you joking? I read Snow’s autobiography recently – he came across as a typical Labour ’97, Lib Dem ’05 voter to me. Where he stands now is less clear, but his left-wing student days aren’t completely behind him.

    Will Young definitely sounds like a Lib Dem.

    Bill Bailey probably is a Green, I’d say. Their authoritarian tendencies are only ever mentioned by the Lib Dems, unfortunately, everyone else sees them as an even more nice-but-useless version of us.

  • Daniel Bowen 24th Dec '08 - 11:50am

    It’s been well-known for years that Eddie Izzard is a Labour toady. Jon Snow used to have Labour leanings but I suspect that evaporated with Iraq.

  • Liam Pennington 24th Dec '08 - 12:16pm

    Izzard used to be LibDem, very much on the pro-EU message (indeed, once suggsted a directly elected United Nations parliament)

    Alas, I think the action transvestite has gone over to the Dark Side. With or without a canteen…

  • Germaine Greer, Richard Dawkins, Sandi Toksvig and John Cleese are all actual LD voters, I believe…not forgetting Rosie Boycott and Nicholas Parsons. Oh, and Paul Potts. 😛

    Still, I’d like Jon Snow to be a Lib Dem voter, too. I imagine Dimbers is a Tory, though!

  • (David) Dimbleby lives in Eastbourne, which is a key Lib Dem/Tory marginal, so he is well worth cultivating!

  • Are any of them Belgians?

  • To be Editor of “Private Eye”, one has to be cynical about politics and politicians in all their shapes and forms. I cannot imagine Mr Hislop voting for anyone.

    Richard Ingrams did once say that he had voted for David Rendel (the only time he had ever voted Lib Dem), but they later parted company over the Vodaphone building. I think Ingrams is sort of moderate Labour.

  • Mat GB – by an interesting coincidence, I played apprentice 2nd Triangle to Nick’s percussionmeister as a student.

    Peter Black – “Distinctive ties are a sign of Liberal individuality.” Conformity with an individualistic twist? 😉

  • Let us also not forget that Thatcher said “The problem is, the Queen is the kind of woman who could vote SDP.” – not that that would help us much. 😛

  • Liam Pennington 24th Dec '08 - 5:04pm

    Will Young could be worth getting as a PPC somewhere you know…

    (JOOOKE. We don’t want our own Adam Ricket disaster…..)

  • Robin Young 24th Dec '08 - 5:32pm

    Having delivered the leaflets to Jon Snow’s door and witnessed his active and personal support for a Lib Dem-led campaign to save his local pub (the Torriano) I am pretty confident we had Jon Snow’s vote in the latest Kentish Town ward of Camden council by-election at least. The Greens (previously second, just ahead of Labour) messed up their candidate when their rep on the Development Committee voted for re-development of the pub, and in the result our candidate, Nick Russell, saw off strong challenges from both Labour and Green, It is curious, though, how few celebs identify themselves as Lib Dems – Sandy Toksvig, Nicholas Parsons – we used to have Sir Patrick Moore but I believe he’s UKIP now, isn’t he?

  • Patrick Moore has a very unsavoury political past on the far-right. I hope he has never supported us!

  • I always had Richard Dawkins down as one. The only directly party-political statements he has made are that he supported Labour in 1974 & he disliked Thatcher, but both of those are sentiments that can be expressed by liberals. Though, there are are of course plenty of liberals who aren’t LD voters.

    You can get a lot from his books: I have them all.

    Bill Bryson, possibly? If he was it would make me feel that little bit more comfortable putting my x next to you.

    Aldous Huxley always struck me as very much a Whig. That could of course mean anything in 2008, & he could either be a LD or a Conservative, but he’s an inspiration to me whatever. I imagine he would hate New Labour.

  • Patrick Moore does have a history of being a rather extreme nationalist and authoritarian conservative, but he opposes hunting with hounds, which is something in his favour.

    Dawkins did vote Lib Dem at the last election, mainly on account of our opposition to the Iraq War. If his heart ruled his head, he’d back the Continuing Communist Party, or the Comrade Enver Hoxha Memorial Movement, and I imagine he was something of an enthusiastic Stalinist in his youth.

    I would expect Will Young to be a Tory, as he comes from a rich family, but I could be wrong. A mediocre pop singer with that little bit more?

  • Sesenco, have you got a copy Dawkins’ endorsement of the LDs? I would like to see his reasons.

    I am quite familiar with his views from re-reading the books more’n enough times, but don’t follow the minutae of everything he says.

    I should imagine he would be disappointed with Clegg’s weakness on secularism & failure to stand up to the illiberal lobbying of “faith groups” (now there’s a phrase to set your teeth on edge), & the even more illiberal deference of everyone else to them.

  • I am not aware of him being particularly opposed to the Iraq adventure, though he is a foe of Bush for reasonw hich should be obvious when you compare their world views.

  • Asquith,

    Dawkins wrote quite a lenghty opinion piece in the “Grauniad” opposing the Iraq war. He was rather down on Bush for being religious, a thicko, and uninterested in high culture.

  • At the time Will Young won (whatever it was) I think he claimed to be a communist. But he was a student then and he is obviously an intelligent guy, so his political ideas could easily have become a bit more sophisticated.

  • Liberal Neil 25th Dec '08 - 2:27am

    Richard Dawkins lives in Evan Harris’ constituency and was one of a batch of people who signed Brian Eno’s ‘Lib Dem This Time’ wesbite at the last election, along with his wife Lalla Ward.

  • Liberal Neil 25th Dec '08 - 2:28am

    I’m pretty sure Ian Hislop is on record as having voted Liberal and Green at different times.

  • Thanks, I’ll look that up myself. 😉 I knew Richard Dawkins had the attitudes described (though I wasn’t aware from his books that he held especially strong views on Iraq)

    There is indeed a LD/Green interface, I should know as I’m on it!

    Is there any more about Bill Bryson, or anyone else? This thread should keep belting on, it’s nice.

    Well, a thoroughly Merry Christmas to you all, & may you get what you wanted & have some business. I am drinking Pernod 🙂

  • RICHARD DAWKINS FRS is a world-renowned scientist based in Oxford. He will be voting Lib Dem this time “to break out of the two party, first-past-the-post stranglehold”.

    His wife & daughter joined in the action, like.

  • Two things occur to me:

    First, DCI Barnaby (of MidMur) is a liberal, if not a Lib Dem.

    Secondly, why has no one mentioned Stephen Fry? 😛

  • I would be delighted if Ian Hislop wasnt one of us!

  • Mark Williams 27th Dec '08 - 12:31am

    Hislop helped the Conservatives in Maidstone find a successor to Ann Widdecombe. Doesn’t sound like much of a LD.

  • Nick – a happy New Year to you! My identity became Clare …, er clear to you then 😉

  • Grammar Police 30th Dec '08 - 11:52am

    Stephen Fry is Labour. “He” wrote to me in 2005 to tell me why I should be voting Labour. I live in Wimbledon constituency, something tells me Stephen Fry didn’t write to the people a few mins down the road from me in Mitcham & Morden . . .

  • Fry is definately Labour – has been for years. Hugh Laurie, I’m not so sure about, although they are both associated with the early – mid 80s comedians who tended to be Labour (Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis, etc.) Ian Hislop I suspect is a Lib Dem – from the article in the Torygraph it looks like he did the Maidstone selection as a favour to a friend.

    Michael Palin I’m pretty sure is a Lib Dem – weren’t almost all of the Pythons?

    I also remember hearing rumours years ago about (amongst others) Gary Lineker – I was told there existed a membership list in Cowley St which only included famous people and wasn’t circulated to the local parties unless the individuals allowed it…

  • Oranjepan – the “high flyers” philosphy would be supported by that recent survey that Lib Dems are the most intelligent party (which we all knew anyway!)

    Nobody here’s mentioned Honor Blackman or Claire Rayner, which is surprising! Greg Dyke (ex-BBC DG) supported us in 2005 and although he’s not a member he did recently say in a Guardian interview (I think) that he’d still vote for us if there was an election tomorrow. I also heard that Joanna Lumley was also a supporter?

  • Liberal Neil – wasn’t Lalla Ward the second Romana alongside Tom Baker? That Dr Who connection again!

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