So, where do the Liberal Democrats go from here?

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

These famous words, spoken by former Liberal, Winston Churchill, in 1942 after the second victorious Battle of El Alamein, could very well sum up where the Liberal Democrats find themselves after what many would see as a very satisfactory comeback after a few difficult years. But, as they say, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. There is no guarantee that even moderate success at local elections will translate into success in a General Election. Despite the accusation of being currently a ‘one trick pony’, as Tim Farron, I believe, said, Lib Dems appear like locusts in their ability to survive a nuclear war – in this case a pincer movement between Tory and Labour. However, ironically, even with our defunct voting system and a poll rating of around 16%, which most Liberal parties around the world would die for, the kind of activity in certain parts of the country could produce some surprising results come the next Westminster election (which, given what passes for the present Brexit ‘negotiations’, could be sooner rather than later).

You can and should campaign on refuse collections, potholes etc.; but General Elections need a different hymn sheet. So, do you make the Lib Dems different from Tory and Labour? Here are a few ideas that some may like (and some may deride) and a few do’s and don’t’s.

First a few do’s:

  1. Be brave. If people want services, they need to be paid for. Don’t try to claim that all can be achieved by just soaking the rich.
  2. Relax a little. Earnestness can only take you so far.
  3. Only promise what you can realistically deliver.
  4. Give credit to your opponents when they have obviously got something right!

Now some don’t’s:

  1. Don’t relate everything to Brexit. It’s time to move on. The sun WILL rise, even if we do leave the EU.
  2. Don’t get bogged down by issues that you might consider important; but which rarely impinge on the lives of the majority of people.
  3. Don’t keep banging on about ‘Liberal Britain’. What most people want is honesty (which would appear to be in short supply amongst politicians these days). As the song goes; “You can’t always get what you want… sometimes you get what you need”.

And now just a few national issues that might just differentiate the Lib Dems from the Tories and Labour at least (in no particular order of priority):

  1. At least one penny on the Basic Rate of Income Tax, ringfenced for the NHS, until a long term solution to the funding crisis can be found.
  2. Devolve real power, or at least as much power as currently enjoyed by the other nations of the UK to the English regions.
  3. Restructure local government in England by replacing the remaining two tier authorities with Unitaries and offering enhanced powers to Town and Parish Councils.
  4. Tackle local government finance, either by a revaluation of property, creating extra Council Tax bands, or by taking a serious look at LVT, LIT or a combination of all three.
  5. Work towards a Federal Parliament based at Westminster and replace the House of Lords with a Senate, on the lines of the German Bundesrat, where delegates are nominated by the various British nations/regions, thus avoiding the need for further elections.
  6. Have another, but this time, SERIOUS look at Proportional Representation in all national, regional and local elections.
  7. Abolish the charitable status of Public Schools. Give vocational education parity of esteem with academic education.
  8. And, finally….

  9. Nobody has all the answers. With the nations of the UK are crying out for consensus not idealistic confrontation, it’s surely time for all politicians, both local and national, to grow up and earn the respect many have sadly lost. Equally, is it too much to ask the majority of voters actually to cast their ballot now and then instead of just staying at home and moaning? As Edmund Burke famously said; “ All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Pie in the sky? Maybe. I could go on; but, hey, it’s a Bank Holiday, the sun is shining and the garden beckons!

* John Marriott is a former Liberal Democrat councillor from Lincolnshire.

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  • Innocent Bystander 7th May '18 - 8:51am

    Despite being such a lengthy piece, not a single syllable, never mind whole word, devoted to the wealth creation to get us out of national bankruptcy.

  • chris moore 7th May '18 - 9:02am

    Hi John,

    in “some don’ts” you say ” Don’t get bogged down by issues that you might consider important; but which rarely impinge on the lives of the majority of people.

    In “national issues that might differentiate us from Tory and Labour”, I’m afraid points 1-7 are precisely the sort of issue that excite Lib Dem activists, but rarely impinge on the everyday lives of the majority of people………

  • John Marriott 7th May '18 - 9:31am

    @Chris Moore
    As they say, if God had been a liberal he wouldn’t have given the Israelites Ten Commandments but rather ten suggestions. My ‘contribution’ to the debate was a ‘nudge’ towards the kind of policies that may not excite those who view politics as slightly sordid, but might understand their validity if clothed in the kind of language they might just understand. As Lord Ashdown famously said: “No taxation without explanation”. One caveat, though. Keep the message short and simple. As David Penhalogan said: “When that leaflet pops through the letterbox and is scrutinised by the occupant, you’ve got eight seconds to get your message across before it ends up in the bin”.

    @Innocent Bystander
    “Wealth creation?” Look at Point 7. Surely a properly educated and skilled workforce is just as important as an entrepreneur. Let’s hear it for the workers!

    My ‘suggestions’ were obviously fairly selective. I could add a few more, like abolishing the right to buy, and buy to rent on new properties, for example; but others may have much better ideas.

  • John Marriott 7th May '18 - 9:34am

    Apologies to the family of the late David Penhaligon for spelling his surname incorrectly!

  • Geoffrey Payne 7th May '18 - 9:49am

    The danger with lists is that you miss something out.
    How on earth can you miss out global warming, the most important issue facing the world today?
    And then there is the need to tackle poverty, low pay and inequality. And yes lets tax the rich more, the top 1% have more money than they know what to do with, whilst at the other end people do not have enough to feed their children or even themselves.
    We should also need to consider that with Trump busy deregulating the banks and building up a whopping budget deficit by cutting taxes for the rich we need to get ready for the next economic downturn having not recovered from the last one 10 years ago.

  • Innocent Bystander 7th May '18 - 9:51am

    John, point 7 is one beloved by teachers and college lecturers but it is a self consoling fallacy. The first Industrial Revolution did not begin with George III ordering “skills” to be taught or canals to be dug between random towns. Like it or not (and the political left don’t like it at all) it was an entrepreneurial risk taking elite that came up with new ideas in the hope of becoming filthy rich that created and defined the needs for new skills and infrastructure. This process is well under way in Asia and has all but been extinguished here. They are steadily enjoying the fruits of their enterprise while we determinedly set our course for the poverty from which they are trying so hard to escape.

  • Richard Underhill 7th May '18 - 10:21am

    “Only promise what you can realistically deliver.”
    How about saying that the Tories would abolish the Poll Tax, in a bye-election in which the Tories were defending a majority of over 19,000 while hinting that the new Tory Party chairman would lose his parliamentary seat in Bath?,_1991

  • Richard Underhill 7th May '18 - 10:37am

    “Abolish the charitable status of Public Schools”
    This appears to mean that education is not a charitable purpose.
    Former Liberal Leader Jo Grimond went to Eton. His memoirs are at 434 30600 2, published by Heinemann in 1979.
    Eton College is referenced at pages 35, 41-51, 53, 57, 280.
    I didn’t, so I do not know whether it has changed.
    Former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe went to Eton [ISBN 1 90230 121 8]

  • John Marriott 7th May '18 - 10:43am

    @Geoffrey Payne
    Point taken. You add ‘global warming to the list. It’s open ended. However, it would appear that all of our parties are signed up to this, at least officially. And, let’s add tackling poverty as well, depending on how you define poverty.
    @innocent Bystander
    “A self consoling fallacy”, hey? Sorry for having been a teacher for 34 years! You mention ‘the filthy rich’. Hasn’t the decline in British manufacturing often been attributed to the time when the public school educated sons of Victorian entrepreneurs started to prefer the diplomatic and colonial service to taking over the running of their fathers’ northern factories? On the other hand, do I want us to be like Singapore? No. Like Germany? Yes!

  • Richard Underhill 7th May '18 - 10:49am

    See also “The Clegg Coup by Jasper Gerard, 2011, Gibson Square, ISBN 978108096098 HB.

  • Innocent Bystander 7th May '18 - 11:06am

    John, being a teacher is a good and noble thing (I married one) but please don’t get carried away. Education may be a baseline essential but skills follow, not lead, demand. Demand comes from enterprise. Enterprise comes from ambitious individuals. The political left despises such people. Our emerging start ups sell out to asset stripping foreign corporations as soon as they can get a decent price and no new industrial dynasties with their mass employment opportunities are created here.
    As you have been a teacher (a serious profession if ever there was) I would just ask you to reflect why the future is escaping from the British and if the answer is entirely in “skills”.

  • Innocent Bystander 7th May ’18 – 9:51am……………………..John, point 7 is one beloved by teachers and college lecturers but it is a self consoling fallacy. The first Industrial Revolution did not begin with George III ordering “skills” to be taught or canals to be dug between random towns. Like it or not (and the political left don’t like it at all) it was an entrepreneurial risk taking elite that came up with new ideas in the hope of becoming filthy rich that created and defined the needs for new skills and infrastructure………………..

    “Rose coloured specs and a selective memory”….You missed out the steel smelteries, the cotton mills and the mines…The owners lived in luxury and the workers in the vilest conditions imaginable. ‘Trickle Down’ economics? Don’t make me laugh..

  • David Becket 7th May '18 - 11:36am

    It is not policy holding us back, it would not be difficult to select six Liberal Democrat policies that address the concerns of many, and then concentrate on them day after day after day.
    Our party structure does not help, where are the weekly briefings from HQ to local parties, where are the major announcements on LDV and where are the national Press Releases distributed to all local parties? On top of that our party structure is bureaucratic and archaic, with a policy making process not fit for purpose.
    Sort that mess out and we are still in trouble, lack of local resource.

    There were too many councils returning two or three Lib Dems last week compared with double figures ten years ago. My own local party is a typical example.

    Twelve years ago we had 18 councillors and went into a (successful) coalition with the Conservatives. 18 councillors produced double the number of activists, a solid core of deliverers and funding from council allowances.
    The local coalition did us little harm. We did not have a love in and portfolio holders ran their own shop. Our shop included Recycling, Street Cleaning and Planning, things that mattered. Our problems started with Clegg’s disastrous love in, we lost to Labour, and Brexit, in an anti EU area, we lost to the Tories. There are now sitting Tory and Labour Councillors who were Lib Dems.

    We are now down to three councillors, about six activists, all bar one in their 70’s and 80’s and little money. We managed to put 14 candidates up for 44 seats. We have more members, but few are interested in working locally. They joined us for national reasons, and see membership of the party a sufficient commitment.

    We are not even in a fit state to spend hours recruiting on the doorstep, and by the next local election in four years there might not be a local party.

    The central party must set up a national recovery team. It needs to select (say) 40 local parties a year and put resource in. One possibility is to help man a street stall, though that will need good policy promotion, which brings me back to an earlier point.

    This message is one I want to get through to our leaders, but where is the process? I doubt if anybody in control takes much notice of LDV.
    Unless this national party wakes up last week will not lead to better times.

  • John Marriott 7th May '18 - 12:00pm

    @Innocent Bystander
    I suppose if you give one hundred people £100 each, at least one will end up a millionaire! Wasn’t it Lord Mandelson, who once declared himself to be “perfectly relaxed” about people getting “filthy rich”, as long as they paid their taxes? The problem in our society is that we appear to be prepared to nationalise debt eg the bankers; but privatise profit. Do we still really buy the idea of “public bad, private good”?
    @Richard Underhill
    I’ve got no desire to prevent parents having their children educated privately; but not at tax payers’ expense. The same applies to private health care. That’s why I’m basically a Liberal and not a socialist.

  • chris moore 7th May '18 - 12:01pm

    @David Becket. Hi David, you are dead right.

    There were numerous derelict áreas on Thursday; once strong for the Lib Dems, now with few or no councillors; and sometimes no candidates

    In every such council there need’s to be a mínimum number of activists who are well enough to campaign; Sunderland is an obvious example of what can be done with a few enthusiasts. And indeed the benefit of having a smattering of younger activists.

    A national recovery team is the way forward.

  • Remain will be an important policy as we move towards Brexit and it becomes more salient for people – 48% is not bad level of support for us (!) – plus significant numbers who want to be in the single market and the EEA.

    @Innocent Bystander

    Um… Google followed the skills obtained by Larry Page and Sergey Brin and indeed the start of their PhD education/research.

    Countries such as South Korea now have a 68% participation rate in university education – to compete internationally we need such rates and also as I believe a life long individual fund for education and training as I believe Vince has proposed that can be used for university and/or other forms of adult education.

    I would set this at £28k so people could use it to fund their first degree and pay for it by Government borrowing (rather than individual borrowing) – it is an investment in the future.

  • Innocent Bystander 7th May '18 - 12:23pm

    I honestly didn’t expect any better than a bit of “Das Kapital” so I’m not disappointed in the replies.
    Meanwhile the steelworks, mines and fabric factories are proliferating in India and China, lifting their populations out of poverty, while we pretend all that is beneath us and our high moral stance.
    As an aside, the govt did not rescue the greedy bankers. They rescued our savings and pensions which were in those banks.

  • John Roffey 7th May '18 - 12:30pm

    @John Marriott “we appear to be prepared to nationalise debt eg the bankers; but privatise profit”

    Royal Mail must have been one of the most glaring examples – privatised at the time when parcel deliveries were beginning to rise substantially – as a result of online purchasing.

    Very useful list which offers the chance of broadening the Party’s appeal. If you had included Land Value Tax – that would be a policy which would capture everyone’s attention [once they understood how it worked].

  • David Becket 7th May '18 - 12:39pm

    @Chris Moore
    Yes, but who is listening?
    As David Raw states, muddling along in the same old well meaning way.

    Is anybody from the “movers and shakers” listening. I doubt it

  • paul barker 7th May '18 - 12:42pm

    The short answer has to be that we build our core vote by targetting voters who already share some of our values but dont see us as a viable Party. That does mean a bias towards younger & better educated Voters & it means ignoring those who dont vote.

  • Steve Trevethan 7th May '18 - 12:45pm

    Any thoughts on foreign policy?
    Which of “our” recent “humanitarian” interventions have resulted in a net benefit for the recipients?
    Afghanistan? Iraq? Libya? Yemen? Syria?

  • John Marriott 7th May '18 - 12:57pm

    @John Roffey
    LVT? It’s there in Point 4.

  • John Roffey 7th May '18 - 1:11pm

    @John Marriott – sorry John – I missed it.

  • A “national recovery team” while a nice idea would be a complete waste of time and money IMHO!

    Those reading this are the “national recovery team”. My reading of the history of the party in the ’70s is that people got up off their backsides and formed local branches and parties where none existed before. in much tougher times for us. We, the grassroots need to rediscover that spirit and it will not come from national edicts or (on a consistent basis) outside our own local parties.

    So, whether you are 8 or 108 – we are not an ageist party – embittered old hack or enthusiastic newbie go and recruit members, helpers and supporters – THIS WEEK while people are hearing about our successes.

    Shake up your local party if necessary.

    Throw stones at your council – by actually turning up to meetings and campaigning for what you want to see locally and nationally.

    And um.. yes I need to take my own advice!!!!!

    And actually – when people are asked at training sessions etc. most who are now local activists join the party “nationally” and probably on the basis of national policies. And it is not surprising that with a 16% vote share than 26%+ we are getting fewer councillors

    And we need to be bolder on policy as a party. Frankly this is not about the 0.002% of the electorate worried about PR – most of whom are here reading this – or arguing the toss over charitable status for private schools.

    But boldly remain. Free university and adult education. Slash the cost of social care. Double the pupil premium. Axe the unfair council tax and replace by local income tax (and/or LVT). Invest in the NHS.

    Be bold! Gather your troops. March towards the sound of gunfire!!!!!

  • David Becket 7th May '18 - 1:33pm

    Michael 1
    At 82 with a bad back I am not to the sort of campaigning you suggest, and my few colleagues are not much younger. We did our bit before we were Clegged. We took the party from 1 to 18 councillors.There are no young activists following us. If we do not get help we are going nowhere.
    Do I feel bitter, seeing previous work wasted by our national leadership, yes I do.
    We should have listened to my political hero David Rendel.

    You are right about policies, much of LDV space is wasted with discussions on issues that are of no interest to the majority.

  • Sue Sutherland 7th May '18 - 1:47pm

    I agree there are at least 5 of those items that no one cares about except us. It’s not that they don’t impinge on people, because they do, but people really aren’t bothered about them. Lesson from the Coalition I think when we went for constitutional reform rather than helping people make ends meet.
    I agree with the withdrawal of charitable status. Eton was established by Henry II or III (I think) for the education of poor boys so it’s moved a long way from it’s original purpose. Re-establish public schools as centres of excellence for the brightest or most talented children.
    I want us to bang on about Liberal Britain because I hope we’ll then have a basis and structure for our policy making instead of unrelated items going to Conference which is an opportunity wasted to get some publicity about what we stand for.
    Now we have had a good result in the local elections we need to have policies that show we stand up for the underdog so we can start challenging Labour in its heartlands and appeal to Tory voters who dislike the UKIPisation of their party.

  • @David Beckett

    Commiserations on your bad back! And I have a great deal of empathy for those that are less active than they were and that includes me – for a whole host of reasons.

    And I also have a great deal of empathy for those that think national leaders messed up. I happened to be looking at documentaries the other day on Jeremy Thorpe on youtube the other day – and as is the way of youtube once you have watched one – you get recommendations for others. By the end of which it was little surprising to realise that the Liberals actually survived! So if we think that Clegg et al messed up…

    Surely the right reaction to a national mess up – if you value Liberal Democracy – is I would suggest to redouble our own efforts. If we value our fellow citizens, our country and our world and believe that Liberal Democracy is the solution then surely we must not abandon them.

    Can I gently suggest that there MAY be much that you can do to campaign – phone, email, internet, encouraging others to pound those streets in your place if you find it difficult.

    I frankly don’t believe that there is no-one aged under 82 who votes Lib Dem in your area. If there isn’t may be we are doomed anyway. If there is you could surely pick up the phone and encourage them to get involved???

    And it is something of a myth that you have to be young to be active. Many people are more active in political activities later in life – when they no longer may be have a young family and are less inclined to fill their spare time with clubbing! Indeed I was aware of one ward where it seemed that you had to be over 80 to even qualify as a deliverer (and they had a very good delivery network!).

    While I appreciate the difficulties people have, many aged above 4 (OK may be 2!) could be much more active than they are. And they say that the flutter of a butterfly can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world

    We need to be those butterflies, cause those political tsunamis and together be the “National Resurgence Team”!

    PS I do agree with you about David Rendel – I voted for him as leader.

  • John Marriott 7th May '18 - 2:32pm

    So pleased that my little piece has elicited some interesting comments. I hope they continue. I would say to Sue Sutherland’s comments about my first five points that they just illustrate a) why Liberals do think differently and b) why they are in a minority. She also mentions the dreaded word “Conference”. Sue, there are other ways of discussing and formulating policy. LDV might be one of them. Is the febrile atmosphere that gatherings of like minded people often produces really the only or even the best means of coming up with policy?

  • Katharine Pindar 7th May '18 - 4:30pm

    @ David Beckett – great comment on the reality in a less successful Lib Dem area, David – fellow feeling! Here we have an Executive of eight, of whom four have met twice recently for Strategy Planning for the 2019 town and district elections. Two of the four are over 80, campaigners for many years, one a former councillor, the other a perpetual candidate till recently. The other two are aged about 70 and 60. We have selected a few target wards for next year, and plan to canvass (two of us) and leaflet from next month. But at present we have just ONE prospective candidate – the newest and youngest member of the Executive. The hunt for others begins immediately. And we don’t have ANY district councillors at present.

    What help do we hope for from outside the constituency, other than reading good sense on LDV? I like Michael 1’s answers to you, David. I hadn’t heard of the idea of a National Recovery team, and so am neutral on that. What I do hope for, which I keep banging on about in my threads, is a National Campaign all through this summer to show the public that we are the party that the country needs, talking about our aims and our policies and their usefulness whatever the eventual outcome of the Brexit negotiations. The campaign needs to be in this crucial year, with these two impotent major parties failing the country. It needs to be involve major national advertising and savvy social media coverage, financed by us all, bypassing the national media blackout. We should all recommend it to our Leader and Chief Executive, as I have.

    But meantime we here in will write our introductory leaflet and begin our 2019 campaign.

  • David Becket 7th May '18 - 5:08pm

    Yes Katharine, you, and many others, have been making the same points about National Campaigns for many years.

    Are the Leader and Chief Executive and the chairs of committee listening?
    I doubt it
    Do they have any idea of the feeling in grass roots of the less prominent constituencies?
    I doubt it.
    Do they read Lib Dem Voice to get an idea of how ordinary members feel?
    I doubt it

  • Laurence Cox 7th May '18 - 5:18pm

    @John Marriott @ Geoffrey Payne

    We need to start specifically targeting the carbon emissions from tourism. Carbon budgets for individuals, perhaps.

    “A new study says global tourism accounts for 8% of carbon emissions, around three times greater than previous estimates. ”

    “The report underlines the fact that when people earn more than $40,000 per annum, their carbon footprint from tourism increase 13% for every 10% rise in income. The consumption of tourism does “not appear to satiate as incomes grow,” the report says.”

  • Malcolm Todd 7th May '18 - 9:13pm

    David Raw
    I think you’re confusing CO2 with NO2 pollution. That report you cite is nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions (which aren’t, as far as I’m aware, a particular health hazard per se).
    If wealthy Londoners (to say nothing of New Yorkers, Californians and Japanese) get in their cars (or hop on a plane) to go holidaying in the lovely clean air of Scotland or the West Country, they’re pumping a lot of extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere generally, with global effect.

  • Peter Martin 8th May '18 - 9:28am

    @ Ian Sanderson (RM3)

    There is no evidence that C02 is harmful to the ozone layer. It is however a ‘Greenhouse gas’ because it absorbs the infra red radiation from the Earth which would otherwise be freely radiated out into space. It therefore causes an increase in the overall global temperature.

    Some greenhouse effect is actually a good thing. The Earth would be frozen down to the tropics is we didn’t have any. Therefore some CO2 in the atmosphere is a good thing too. However the natural pre industrial level of about 280ppmv has now increased to 400 ppmv and that is a huge problem. Future global temperatures will rise dangerously high. Sea levels will probably rise by several metres but the rate of the rise is still not known accurately. The worst scenario is that the rise will be catastrphically sudden if part of the Antarctic ice shelf collapses into the sea.

    Methane is the other GHG which we shouldn’t forget about. That’s a valuable resource and so should be easier to deal with.

  • Peter Martin 8th May '18 - 9:58am

    “Where do the Lib Dems go from here?”

    How about to the local library, if it’s still open, to re-learn some Keynesian economics?

    For example your statement “Be brave. If people want services, they need to be paid for” is perfectly true at the local level. If Govt cuts the funding to councils they need to cut back. There’s no option. Household economics apply.

    But at National level they don’t. Spending by Government comes first. That’s where money comes from in the first instance – otherwise there wouldn’t be any money in the economy to enable us to pay our taxes. Taxes follow to create a demand for the currency and prevent inflation.

    So you can’t fix every problem, or even any problem, by putting 1p, or whatever, on income taxes. If Government raises one tax its revenue from another will probably fall. It’s total revenue may well fall. If Govt cuts its spending its revenue will fall. So is that 1p needed on income taxes? Maybe. Maybe not. It all depends on whether the economy is overheating and more taxes need to be levied to cool it down.

  • John Marriott 8th May '18 - 10:41am

    @Peter Martin
    Pardon my naivety, Peter; but it surely all depends on HOW MUCH you are prepared to pay. In the case of the NHS, if you have extracted all the efficiency savings possible and there is still a cash shortage, what’s wrong with asking people to pay a little more?

    You say that “spending by Government comes first. That’s where money comes from in the first instance”. Really, I thought we have been repeatedly told that governments get their money from us via direct and indirect taxation. So what if some of it were kept locally to be spent locally rather than being swallowed up by that black hole in Whitehall?

    “If government cuts the funding to councils they need to cut back. There is no option.” Only if they are left tied to the Council Tax, which is one of the most inefficient, unfair and outmoded ways of raising money. You quote my statement. I stand by it. It’s about having the guts to tell the truth about taxation, unlike Labour, who prefer to tell people that someone else will pay or the Tories, whose recurrent local election mantra is “Tory councils cost you less”. There’s a scene in “Back to the Future” #1, where Marty finds himself back in the 1950s in the middle of a mayoral election, where the eventual winner’s loudhailer proclaims the latter’s promise of “lower taxes and higher spending”!

    Regarding 1p on the Basic rate of Income Tax, many of us might possibly argue that you are, with respect, advocating a counsel of despair. You can hide behind your obvious understanding of how economies work; but do you really want to fiddle while Rome burns?

  • Malcolm Todd 8th May '18 - 11:57am

    John Marriott
    “You can hide behind your obvious understanding of how economies work”

    Seriously? Is that how we’re treating informed comment on difficult subjects, now? It’s a bit Govian, isn’t it?

  • John Marriott 8th May '18 - 4:16pm

    @Malcolm Todd
    As for ‘informed comment’, didn’t the experts say that Remain was bound to win the EU referendum and that Hillary would win the US Presidency at a canter? And what did Michael Fish say about that hurricane back in the 1980s? Seriously though, wasn’t it Keynes who proposed that governments should SPEND themselves out of recession., or have I got that wrong as well?

    @David Raw
    I faithfully promise not to use the ‘c’ word again, whether in reference to the Coalition or to Clegg – or at least I’ll try!

  • Enough of Keynesian vs Neoclassical. Let’s experiment with either developmental economics or social market economics if you want real innovations, and then combined them with Keynesianism (sorry but you cannot apply developmental economics while adhering to classical economics, because it requires an active government).

  • Peter Martin 9th May '18 - 8:07am

    @ John Marriott,

    Of course there is nothing wrong with asking people to pay more taxes if that’s what’s needed. But are they needed? You need to apply a little lateral thinking. The Government doesn’t get its income from taxation. In fact it probably doesn’t have an income in the same sense as you or I might. It doesn’t have, or not have, any money in the same way as you or I might.

    So your thinking that the Government needs to raise income tax by 1p to pay for the NHS is household economics thinking.

    ” I thought we have been repeatedly told that governments get their money from us via direct and indirect taxation”

    They don’t. They first create the money, then spend it into the economy, and collect some of it back in taxes. They can never collect back more than they have created which is why they are always in deficit and debt. It’s nothing to worry about providing that inflation is kept under control.

    So we can possibly, even very likely, spend more on the NHS without raising taxes at all. If inflation creeps above target that’s when we have to add your 1p to income tax.

  • David Evans 9th May '18 - 8:33am

    The question of where do the Lib Dems go from here is very simple to answer, but it won’t be by policies, or economic theories, but by whether we can generate a national message that the public hears.

    And it will have to be done in the next 11 months. By then either Theresa May will have taken us out of the EU or something, somehow will have stopped it.

    If we are out, the one national policy area we are reasonably well known for will have disappeared we will have to accept that any recovery will have to be built up constituency by constituency over many decades. If, by some miracle, we are still in the EU we have a better chance, but only if we get the message out there that it was not Jeremy Corbyn who saved the situation by his evasion and prevarication, but us. In that
    regard, it won’t be clever messaging from Great George Street but by activists delivering a decisive blow on the streets.

    Lewisham East may well be the only chance we get (70% Remain, Lib Dems 28%, Lab 43% in 2010. Quite simply, it is essential that every last one of us who can get down there does so as soon as possible.

  • I suppose Point 6 might be sold as an attack on both Labour and the Tories, but I don’t know why any normal voter would care about any of the rest.

  • John Marriott 10th May '18 - 9:51am

    That’s precisely why only around 8% of the population identify themselves as ‘Liberal’. And there in a nutshell is the problem a Liberal party faces. Most of my points have appeared in liberal discourse over many decades. Esoteric they may seem to most people; but that doesn’t make them wrong. It’s about time a few more ‘normal’ voters thought a bit more about them.

    In conclusion, I would like to thank all those who contributed to this thread. Perhaps my efforts, albeit imperfect as they undoubtedly were, have provided some entertainment over the past few days.

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