Spreadsheets and vicious beasts – the not very secret lives of Lib Dem #dangerousextremists

So, Emily Thornberry said the Liberal Democrats had “gotten kind of Taliban” in an interview with The House magazine.

Now, hang on a wee minute here. There might be another Taliban, who have a woman leader who talks about creating a more loving country, who state clearly what they are going to do if they win a majority in an election because, you know, democracy. But Google hasn’t heard of THAT Taliban. It only knows about the murderous, misogynistic  brutes who terrorised Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Thornberry’s comments show how Labour have really lost the plot. Maybe she is jealous that her party can’t have as clear a policy to stop Brexit because Brexiteer Jeremy Corbyn wants it to happen.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, this was an actual question on Question Time last night:

So, a party that is threatening to crash us out of the EU on 31 October, “do or die” risking food and medicine shortages is not as extreme as us who have said we’ll put a stop to this nonsense by democratic means.

Sarah Olney started something this afternoon when she took the BBC to task:

Others piled in to say talk about their dangerously extreme habits:

There was definitely a few common themes around animals and cheese


I did wonder about the tanks thing. That could be a bit dodgy. And I got a bit more than I bargained for.

That cat is the height of a the story building!

Do feel free to add to the #dangerousextremists meme with what makes you these things.

You can always count on Cole-Hamilton to show off:

He could, of course, have added jump in the sea at midnight, as, rumour had it, he did in Bournemouth.

There is a serious side to all this talk of Taliban and extremism, though, and it took Rajin Chowdhury, our PPC for Sheffield South East to point it out to me in this sobering tweet.

This is not ok, and is a very forceful reminder of how we need to be careful with language.

No doubt we will amuse ourselves with more examples of how we are dangerous extremists, but let’s not forget that people are trying to make us more vulnerable. And that is not playing by the rules of civilised political discourse.

Emily Thornberry should withdraw her comments and apologise. The Question Time production team should be ashamed of itself.

And we Lib Dems need to keep going, to pull our country back from those who stoke hatred and division.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Check out Tim Farron’s Twitter feed for a classic put down on this subject…
    “Come on Emily, if we really were like a Middle East terrorist group, don’t you think Jeremy would’ve invited us to a conference fringe meeting before now?”

  • I think we should own ‘dangerous.’ If I’d been Ed Davey last night I’d have looked that questioner in the eye and said, “Well it depends who you think we are dangerous to. If you’re talking about Brexit and Brexiteers, yes we are a danger to them. If you are talking about a government that shuts down parliament and breaks the law, yes you better believe we are dangerous to them. If you’re talking about people who pursue a dangerous No Deal Brexit without a mandate, Yes I think it’s time they faced a bit of extremism and danger.” etc. etc. You get the gist.

  • That looks like a Cromwell tank that Greg has built. An indication of how he thinks we will have to respond to Boris adopting a dangerously extremist Charles 1st approach to closing Parliament down?

  • The BBC who would give up essential impartiality, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither respect nor Safety.

    If they can’t act impartially they shouldn’t expect to be funded by the public.

  • Emily Thornberry’s comment just reflects her fear that Liberal Democrats will win Islington South and Finsbury in the next general election. Probably that fear is justified.

  • John Marriott 21st Sep '19 - 7:46am

    “Eh, hi there. My family calls me Al. I like to build model buses out of cardboard boxes when I have any spare time, which isn’t much at the moment. Me and my carer have a new little doggie, who is making a bit of a mess in our new home.

    “Some wag once said that putting me in charge of anything is a bit like putting Lucretia Borgia in charge of the school canteen. That reminds me, now that we’ve done hospitals and schools it’s time for another excellent lunch with my new friend, Jean-Claude. Perhaps I might bring a few ideas along this time, to keep home and Donald happy. After all, they’re both retiring soon, aren’t they. I just love those Europeans. They’ve certainly got their priorities right!

    “Me dangerous? Nah….”

  • Michael Cole 21st Sep '19 - 9:18am

    The way that the other four (anti-LD) panellists on Question Time all joined in attacking Ed Davey shows clearly that we have got them rattled.

    But, please, can our spokespeople spell out at every opportunity that our clear preference is for the Peoples’ Vote and that we continue to argue, campaign and march for this.

    Ed tried to make this point but was shouted down.

  • David Becket 21st Sep '19 - 9:38am

    It was reasonable to expect a question on the Lib Dem policy of revoke. What we got was a “twitter type” comment aimed at stirring up the temperature, whilst the need is to calm the situation down.
    The Director General needs to take a hard look at the impartiality of the BBC, and its role in presenting balanced arguments and calming down political discussion. As for Bruce, by taking this question she has shown herself to be unfit to host a programme of this nature, she needs to go.

  • Gave up watching Question Time 3 years ago, same stuff each week, rather boring. Would not worry about what they are saying about us, just shows how worried they are. Just be politically astute and mature by ignoring it. Shows we are winning the argument.
    All old news anyway, what with the Tom Watson story

  • Its our natural response to react with humour & mildness but given the problems this could cause for BAME communities perhaps that’s not appropriate this time.
    For once, we should be angry; this sort of language is one of the things that got us into this mess.

  • Richard MacKinnon 21st Sep '19 - 11:02am

    Thornberry and whoever came up with the question on QT have definitely hit a nerve. Massive over reaction tells a lot.

  • Richard MacKinnon: what this “massive over reaction” tells is that the comments were extremely offensive and inappropriate. Do you really think that comparing us to neo-Nazi street thugs and radical Islamists over what we say we would fo as a democratically elected majority government is at all appropriate? What’s most offensive about it is that it legitimises actual dangerous extremists through likening us, as a mainstream liberal democratic party, to them. If you think the comparison is legitimate, then you are essentially saying that far-right and Islamist extremism are acceptable to you.

  • Apparently John Humphries has denounced the BBC for its lack of impartiality since his recent retirement.

  • Richard MacKinnon 21st Sep '19 - 1:44pm

    Alex Macfie,
    The policy, unilateral revoke of article 50, is daft. Everyone knows it including many Libdem members. Thornberry has scored an easy hit because of it.
    Foolish political posturing invites ridicule. That is what this is about. All the self righteous indignation above only makes the story more comical.
    Keep it up.

  • Richard,
    Just a thought ( from a foreign trade unionist, they do exist you know).
    “And, my friends, in this story you have a history of this entire movement. First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.”
    Looks like we are moving way past ignore, some still ridicule, but many have moved onto attack and burn. Must be making progress, long may it continue.
    Last thought
    “Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.” So laugh on Richard the last laugh will assuredly be on you.

  • The LibDems are hoist by their own petard over this. Over the past 20 years the LibDems should have been advocating for freedom of opinions and resisting the closing over the Overton window. Instead LibDems were some of the biggest cheerleaders of state and social intervention and control of opinion so that “unacceptable” opinions are marginalised and even criminalised. The truth is that any opinion can be called extremist if it is not a majority one.

    1999 – Advocate for gay marriage = Extremist
    2019 – Advocate against gay marriage = Extremist
    1999 – Advocate for Israeli military action against other sovereign states = Extremist
    2019 – Advocate against Israeli military action against other sovereign states = Extremist
    1999 – Advocate for possession of cannabis to be legalised = Extremist
    2019 – Advocate for possession of cannabis to remain criminalised = Extremist
    1999 – Advocate for citizens to be banned from leaving the countries of their citizenship = Extremist
    2019 – Advocate for citizens to be free to leave the countries of their citizenship, e.g. to move to Syria = Extremist

    A lot of the Brexit vote is a cry against those who have curtailed free expression of opinion and many other opinions over the past twenty years and have imposed their internally-contradictory and damaging version of social orthodoxy.

    The LibDems reap what they have sown.

  • Alex Macfie 21st Sep '19 - 4:20pm

    Richard MacKinnon: Actually Emily Thornberry’s comment has backfired because it is so ridiculous, and because Lib Dems have responded in the right way, with contemptuous dismissal and joking. The fact that Thornberry thought it was at all appropriate says A LOT more about her than it does about the Lib Dems. It is not “self-righteous indignation” to object to comparisons with a murderous Islamist movement. And the fact that you seem to think such a comparison is acceptable says a lot about you as well. And if we did not object to her comment, it WOULD become an acceptable thing for people to say and believe. We have learnt there is no point in engaging over that kind of comment: we have to shut it down before it becomes part of the mainstream political discourse.

  • Mick Taylor 21st Sep '19 - 4:29pm

    No Denis Wake, John Humphries denounced the BBC for being a Liberal elite! Well, it certainly wasn’t with him at the helm of today. It was pro Brexit, anti immigration and very anti Lib real Democrat. Just look at his defence of Johnson’s failure to go to his own press conference in Luxembourg!
    I stopped listening to Today several years’ ago due to Humphries insufferable behaviour. Maybe his successors will get back to being impartial!

  • Mick Taylor 21st Sep '19 - 4:34pm

    I agree with Mark Valladares. Debate in this country is not conducted in a spirit of live and let live. Too often it is conducted in the way Emily Thornbury has done over Brexit.

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