Taboo or Not Taboo… time for the Lib Dems to find their voice on coalitions and the EU?

According to former Lib Dem Press Secretary and current FT journalist, Miranda Green, “The great ‘Brexit’ and ‘coalition’ taboos are holding the Lib Dems back”. Whilst other commentators, including Matthew Parris and Daniel Finkelstein in the Times, have bemoaned our failure to set out a distinctive message on these issues.

In their defence, the party leadership is rightly sceptical of the siren voices to which we succumbed in 2019. It would be all too easy to say something that improves our national poll rating, but harms our prospects in the Blue Wall, where nearly all our realistic targets lie. Hubris did for us last time and we’re not about to repeat the mistake.

But that doesn’t mean we must speak in riddles when asked whether we would go into coalition with Labour or rejoin the EU.

Inevitably, Labour have weaponised the Lib Dems’ role in austerity (notwithstanding our success in stopping the Tories cutting as much as both they, and the Labour party, threatened in their 2010 manifestos!). The Party consequently tends to avoid mentioning our period in government, for fear of repelling Labour tactical voters, despite the coalition’s achievements and the positive view of many disillusioned Conservatives, who are rightly appalled at what came next. As for future intentions, our current line is to simply say we will not countenance a coalition with the Tories, but then refuse to answer the exact same hypothetical when the subject turns to Labour; which sounds unconvincing and does little to reassure wavering Conservatives.

Surely the lesson to be learnt from 2010-15 is that formal coalitions are incompatible with First Past the Post.

The junior partner in a coalition is bound to suffer in the subsequent election. Voters opposed to the government, regard both parties as equally culpable, whilst those who supported it, are more likely to credit the larger party for its achievements.

So, whilst it’s right to rule out a coalition with the Conservatives, because they have proved themselves currently unfit to govern, should we not go further and rule out a coalition with any party under First Past the Post? Not because coalitions are inherently bad, but because our voting system militates against them. In answer to the Labour coalition question, should we not say we will work constructively with Keir Starmer on an issue-by-issue (or possibly confidence & supply) basis, to provide stability and a bulwark against his hard left, but not join a formal coalition absent the introduction of PR?

On Brexit, Ed Davey was criticised by many in the party when he refused Andrew Marr’s invitation to brand the Lib Dems a rejoin party.

Despite the brickbats, Ed was undoubtedly correct. Rejoining will be a process, only achieved gradually from a position of strength, through tough negotiation which can only begin once we’ve healed the rancour at home and no longer threaten discord abroad. In refusing Marr’s poison chalice, Ed avoided the Lib Dems being portrayed as backward-facing curmudgeons, threatening to return the country to the bad blood of yesteryear; rather than forward-looking visionaries, determined to address the structural issues that created Brexit in the first place.

So whilst we’re NOT a rejoin party, that should not stop us loudly proclaiming – The Lib Dems are The Re-engage Party.

Whilst the Tories think they’ve got Brexit done; and Labour want to make it work; we must continue to call it out (but not those who voted for it) as a deadweight that harms our economy and reduces the electorate’s standard of living (which is why, in the face of much criticism at the time, our MPs were right to vote against a rotten deal which both the Conservative and Labour front benches endorsed). As an academic I see the harm our continued exclusion from programmes like Erasmus Plus and Horizon is doing to the university sector; whilst as a bar owner in Central London I am suffering the same Brexit-induced fate as much of hospitality with labour shortages, rising costs and deteriorating consumer confidence.

Unfortunately, we often seem bashful about our principled and consistent stance on the folly & deceit of Brexit.

Admittedly the party will, when pressed, admit to advocating a four-stage process to take us back into the Single Market; which is fine, provided the voter stays awake long enough to hear the answer. We need to hone that message by saying at every opportunity we are committed to re-joining existing EU institutions, negotiating sector specific accords and re-entering the Single Market as soon as possible. Whilst, when asked whether we want to re-join the EU, we should say YES; as soon as the time is right, the country is ready and the terms are acceptable; which inevitably means it will not happen without electoral reform to address the structural instabilities of the minority rule from whence Brexit first sprung.

As noted recently by Miranda Green (at 22.37) and Stephen Bush, a key aspect of Lib Dem identity in recent elections has been the championing of at least one position that differentiated us from both Labour and the Conservatives. This has included opposition to the Iraq War, a hypothecated 1% on income tax, opposing university tuition fees and stopping Brexit. Clearly not all those pledges lasted the course, but that should not preclude us seizing the zeitgeist by stating unambiguously that Lib Dem policy is to join the single market and introduce PR as soon as possible. Neither is easy, nor a panacea, but they are important steps in our mission to mend our shattered economy & fix our broken politics. And critical staging posts in our long-term aim of one day negotiating from a position of strength to re-join the EU.

I began by mauling Hamlet but will end with a direct quote from the Prince of Denmark:

“How absolute the knave is! We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us.” *

 

* The ‘card’ refers to mariners’ sea-charts, which must be followed with precision; I’ll leave you to work out the identity of Brexit’s knave.

 

* Paul Kohler is a councillor in Merton and the Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Wimbledon.

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49 Comments

  • Mel Borthwaite 30th Jun '23 - 12:47pm

    Well said. The Liberal Democrat group of MPs should support or oppose Bills or votes in parliament on an issue by issue basis – no formal coalition unless STV is enacted as the price of any coalition deal.

  • Whatever a political party does is fraught with questions and difficulties. The skill is getting the electorate make a judgement on where a party stands, making definitive statements yourself means you probably become a hostage to fortune, look at the present government. It is a tightrope and either side you fall into the abyss, somehow the skill is to keep juggling the balls, keeping them in the air for as long as possible. I hesitate to criticise the present approach whilst it is serving us pretty well.

  • Paul Barker 30th Jun '23 - 3:23pm

    Personally, the first thing I would say to the Coalition question is that its irrelevant for the next Decade in any case. Labour will win a Landslide in the coming Election & the one after & everyone knows that.
    Journalist often ask stupid questions & should be gently reprimanded.
    The Article is spot on otherwise.

  • @theakes – I can’t get the image out of my head of Ed Davey walking a tightrope across an abyss and juggling balls at the same time.

  • Anthony Acton 30th Jun '23 - 4:40pm

    Great post. After the political chaos of the last 8 years, the party should position itself at the next GE as the voice of reason free to judge each issue on its merits in the national interest. Plus two or three distinctive policies, presented in the simplest terms, on issues that matter to everyone. If the LDs can regain the position of 3rd party in the Commons we will have a platform from which to rebuild the national political force which was virtually destroyed in 2015.

  • Michael Cole 30th Jun '23 - 5:33pm

    Much common sense from Paul Kohler.

    Proportional representation is perceived by the public and many political commentators merely as a pedantic matter, not relevant to the bread and butter issues. But we must make the case for it. FPTP elections are the prime reason so many people feel disconnected from the democratic process.

    And why have we been so badly governed for so long ? Surely a voting system which bestows absolute power on a minority of votes and produces about 500 ‘safe seats’ is a major factor.

    Our relative silence on this matter and on our relationship with Europe is all well and good if we are content to continue bumbling along at 10% in the polls, hoping to pick up some Conservative marginals, mostly in the South.

    About a year ago I advocated in LDV four principal issues on which we should campaign nationally:
    1. Electoral and constitutional reform.
    2. Stop corruption.
    3. As close as possible relationship with the EC.
    4. Treat the planet with respect.

    We all know that to win votes we need to be perceived as different from the other main political Parties. So why is our leadership so reticent on these issues ?

  • Chris Moore 30th Jun '23 - 9:22pm

    @Michael Cole: could I politely suggest you look at the many countries with PR and very poor governance and high levels of corruption.

    Let’s not oversell PR. It’s not a panacea.

  • Michael Cole 30th Jun '23 - 11:11pm

    Dear Chris Moore: I’m not for one moment suggesting that that it’s a panacea or a guarantee of good government. Rather it is the ‘sine qua non’ without which no significant, lasting progress will be made. I am certainly not ‘overselling’ it.

    As Paul states, electoral reform must be a pre-condition of any coalition or confidence and supply arrangement. We have no reason to be shy about this.

    I would ask you to please name ” … the many countries with PR and very poor governance and high levels of corruption.”

  • “Ed avoided the Lib Dems being portrayed as backward-facing curmudgeons,”

    Sadly, no, he didn’t. Any variation of “Make Brexit work” (or “Re-engage”) is backward-facing since Brexit has been tried and has failed to deliver any of its supposed “benefits”.

    Worse, the Lib Dems are now just classified as another pro-Brexit party, since commentators and the general public aren’t going to read beyond the headline, or the one-line answer, and get into the nitty gritty of what line x in paragraph y of a z page policy document says.

  • Martin Gray 1st Jul '23 - 6:55am

    The economy ( as always) , health , & immigration are the top three concerns – with health & environment back in 4th 5th….We can bang on about the EU as much as we like – nothing is ever going to happen unless the Tories & labour are all in agreement , until then rejoining is for the birds…We can of course trot out the usual political speak – work more closely with the EU etc etc .. Ultimately it’s jus a soother for the federalists..

  • Chris Moore 1st Jul '23 - 7:46am

    Hi Michael,

    Spain, Italy, Israel, Ireland…….etc etc

    PR is neither sine qua non nor guarantee of good governance, nor low levels of corruption.

    I’m in favour if PR because it produces a fairer translation of votes into seats. The rest is mere fantasy.

  • A really wonderfully written article and bang on the money! Hoe you win in Wimbledon … the election, not the tennis!

  • Keith Sharp 1st Jul '23 - 9:20am

    Regarding electoral reform, we don’t need to get side-tracked into negative attacks along the lines of ‘look at Israel/Italy…’ Especially since devolution in 1999, there are PR systems (STV and AMS/MMP) in use and familiar to voters up and down the UK (plus nearby Ireland for 100 years). In winning the argument for fair, equal votes where the vast majority of votes count and are not wasted, we can point to and draw on our own experiences.

  • David Evans 1st Jul '23 - 10:53am

    Sadly, Re-engage is a meaningless phrase and the public know it. The Conservatives can claim they want to re-engage, Labour likewise and anyone else, even Farage.

    Our problem, having been on the right side of the argument for years and most people knowing it (even if they believed it was the wrong side) – 48% with us while Labour, Conservative and UKIP fighting over the 52%, was that our new leader unilaterally ditched it for a much more mealy mouthed alternative.

    Outright Rejoin Now is probably too big a leap right now, but could be right if we get things right – now. If our leaders are willing to call out the Conservatives for what they are – a bunch of discredited chancers that our country is entirely sick of – and go all out to humiliate them in the by-elections, we can achieve it in the next general election. With those key by-election results – re-gain in Somerton and Frome, and a subsequent win in Mid Beds, it should nicely set the foundations for a big surprise in 2024 (or even late 2023).

    The line ‘We are the party who still have the right contacts, relationships and drive to quickly rebuild our future back in Europe”, we could cash in on our years of effort, but we need Ed to have the willingness and the drive to do it, while the memory of Johnson and Truss still looms large.

    We have the chance – We have to take it.

  • Michael Cole 1st Jul '23 - 1:11pm

    Dear Chris Moore,

    Keith Sharp has answered your question.

    As we all should know, Israel is a special case and does not negate the case for Fair Votes. Israel and the other countries you mention – Italy, Ireland and Spain – are of course not perfectly governed but would be so much worse under FPTP.

    As for “etc etc”: Which countries are they ?

    You undermine your case, (or perhaps you are actually in agreement), by emphasising the essential fairness of PR.

  • Michael Cole 1st Jul '23 - 1:14pm

    David Evans: “We have the chance – We have to take it.” Well said.

  • Alex Macfie 1st Jul '23 - 2:01pm

    “Regarding electoral reform, we don’t need to get side-tracked into negative attacks along the lines of ‘look at Israel/Italy” and we can counter them with “Look at India/Belarus.”

  • Michael Cole 1st Jul '23 - 6:22pm

    Alex Macfie: Agreed.

  • Chris Moore 2nd Jul '23 - 6:31am

    Michael, what is “my case”?

    I’m in favour of PR, precisely because it’s proportional. I don’t see the need to make manifestly false claims about PR producing superior governance and less corruption. There is no correlation between the various democratic electoral systems and poor governance.

    As for etc, Scotland is a good example of governance deteriorating under a PR system.

    There’s actually a large literature on the deep societal causes of corruption.

  • Martin Gray 2nd Jul '23 - 8:18am

    @David….Sadly by-elections have been proven time and again to be a very poor indicator as regards the standings of any party come a GE…We’d be doing well to hold onto what we’ve won in this parliament given the size of the original Tory majorities.. How that translates to closer ties with the EU without the other main parties full onboard – I can’t see that pathway to without them …

  • @Keith
    The Scottish implementation of AMS is not proportional due to not dealing with the overhang. Consequently Scotland can get a pro independence parliament from 40% support.

  • Very helpful article. Just a couple of comments:

    I believe our messaging should be focusing on winnable seats, rather than worrying too much about national vote share at this point in time. With this in mind, I would ask whether the kind of blue wall voters we are targeting are as pro-Brexit as we might imagine. Therefore I agree we should not be afraid to clearly advocate rejoining in the longer term, whilst being realistic about what it will take to get there.

    A previous commenter mentioned the economy, which seems to represent a gaping hole in our current public messaging. Interest rate rises are harming our economy just as much as high inflation, and Labour appears to be moving further towards “fiscally responsible” monetarism with every announcement. Liz Truss’s policies may have been disastrously wrong-headed, but surely she was right to say that our root economic problem has been dire productivity over the last decade or so.

    Our economy needs investment perhaps more than anything else. If any party is going to be thoroughly and unashamedly Keynesian, it should be the Liberal Democrats. When as close to recession as we are now, surely interest rates should be low, not high, so that the government can invest in a healthier, better educated workforce, with infrastructure projects and regional incentives to get small businesses flourishing once more.

  • @Martin Gray – “… nothing is ever going to happen unless the Tories & labour are all in agreement …”

    That’s a very defeatist attitude to put it mildly. Based on that logic, the Lib Dems and the Greens etc etc should all just shut up shop rather than advocate any alternatives to the “big two” parties’ policies.

    The whole point of being a political party is that you offer the electorate an alternative not just re-heated failed Conservative policies such as Brexit.

  • Chris Moore 2nd Jul '23 - 1:42pm

    Hungary is another example of deteriorating governance and corruption under a proportional system.

  • Mel Borthwaite 2nd Jul '23 - 3:30pm

    @Chris Moore
    The issue in Hungary is nothing to do with the voting system and everything to do with the fact that the governing party won an absolute majority of the vote – no truly proportional system will stop a government gaining an absolute majority of MPs if it secures an absolute majority of the vote.

  • Martin Gray 2nd Jul '23 - 4:34pm

    @Paul R…..I’m stating that without a unified front as regards the EU from the two parties that hold over 500 parliamentary seats – I’m struggling to see how we get to a more closer relationship with the EU… Nothing defeatist – just reality. ..

  • We are approaching one of those political upheavals of which we may see only a handful in our adult lifetimes. The cards are being thrown up in the air and the result might well be a lot closer than present polls suggest. That seems more likely than the Tories going down to unviable opposition numbers, although FPTP is a lottery on MP numbers and that could happen.

    This next decade could be the one and only chance to get PR voting through in many of our remaining lifetimes. It is the one policy that could lead to the transformation of this country. The nettle has to be grasped without compromise, or Labour’s dinosaurs will wangle their way out of it as they managed in ’97. Labour gave the voters the impression they would enact AV+ and gained extra votes based on PR, but broke the agreement on it with Ashdown.

    Labour care more about the Labour Party, than the well being of Britain and the British people. They may always put their turn at monopoly power and an assured position as Official opposition, before anything. The conversion of Labour members and Trade Unions is not changing that and may never. We can only hope and push for PR and never compromise when and if Labour are over a barrel.

  • Michael Cole 2nd Jul '23 - 8:08pm

    To Chris Moore 2nd Jul ’23 – 6:31am:

    You say, “As for etc, Scotland is a good example of governance deteriorating under a PR system.” If that is the only example you can come up with, then I must accept that I shall probably be unable to persuade you.

    Are you referring to the Scottish Parliament elections or those for local government ? The former uses the AMS to secure proportionality (btw: I am not a fan of Party lists). In any case, despite their current difficulties the governance of SNP has not been noticeably worse than that of Westminster. STV for the latter has been in place since 2007 and by all accounts the Scottish people like it, as it gives them greater choice and leads to effective local government.

    The important concept here is that under STV voters choose a candidate for his or her personality and political views – rather than for the Party label. One of the key factors is the self-serving tendency of MPs elected in ‘safe’ seats under FPTP.

  • Chris Moore 3rd Jul '23 - 7:27am

    Come on, Michael, be serious, I’ve mentioned several countries with poor governance and PR electoral systems, not just Scotland.

    Let me remind you: Scotland, Israel, Hungary, Spain, Italy, Ireland. Also for your personal delectation, I’ll add Slovakia and Poland.

    @Mel: I’m not saying PR CAUSES poor governance or corruption. I’m saying there is no correlation between levels of corruption and quality of governance and a country’s electoral system.

    There are many factors impacting on governance and corruption: the electoral system is not one of them.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Jul '23 - 8:15am

    @ohn “This next decade could be the one and only chance to get PR voting through in many of our remaining lifetimes.”
    Sadly, I’m not convinced that the electorate has an appetite for PR at the moment, and I don’t expect an opportunity to push it hard for the foreseeable future.
    A few years ago, the disproportionate mismatch between support for UKIP and its lack of representation in Parliament prompted discussion and a bit of unrest. Apart from that, the only times I can remember anything similar was when the Lib Dems or its predecessors were riding high in the polls, especially at the height of the Liberal/SDP alliance.
    That’s why I think the only hope for PR (apart from the passing of time since the AV referendum debacle) is for a third party like the Lib Dems to significantly increase its support based upon other popular radical policies – and perhaps Rejoin could be part of that – so that voters see that the only way to get what they want is via electoral reform. First-past-the-post is sufficient to allow voters to get rid of this unpopular Tory government, so they need to be offered more than that.

  • Nonconformistradical 3rd Jul '23 - 9:02am

    “I’m not convinced that the electorate has an appetite for PR at the moment”

    Could that be because supporters of PR systems (and maybe STV in particular) haven’t done a good enough job of promoting it?

  • Keith Sharp 3rd Jul '23 - 9:26am

    @ Russell; re-your comments about the lack of party proportionality (due to FPTP ‘overhangs’) in Scotland Parliament elections – you are of course correct! (In Germany, the size of the bundestag can vary because of the need to correct the disportionality of FPTP).

    My comment was to set out that there are today principally two ‘UK familiar’ systems, which mean we can dismiss the ‘Israel/Italy’ accusations.

    My belief is that STV is the superior system, because it maximises the voice and choice of the individual voter; and in spite of frequent accusations, delivers good ‘party proportionality’. And while we’re on it – AMS/MMP entrenches ‘safe seats’ while STV minimises them.

    And while PR systems don’t totally do away with illiberal, bad governments (Hungary is mentioned in earlier comments) PR makes them harder. Just picture the political dominance of the SNP had fptp been in place north of the border!

  • Michael Cole 3rd Jul '23 - 10:41am

    Dear Chris Moore 3rd Jul ’23 – 7:27am:

    According to the ‘electoral-reform.org.uk’ website: “Of the 43 countries most often considered to be within Europe, 40 use some form of proportional representation to elect their MPs.

    “The UK stands almost alone in Europe in using a ‘one-person-takes-all’ disproportionate voting system. If we exclude the authoritarian state of Belarus – “Europe’s only remaining outpost of tyranny” – France is the only other European country to use a ‘one-person-takes-all’ system (the Two-Round System).”

    You state: “There are many factors impacting on governance and corruption: the electoral system is not one of them.” In the face of all the evidence you are determined to maintain your view that PR has no effect on government corruption. I regret that I am unable to persuade you otherwise but would respectfully ask you to open your mind.

  • Peter Martin 3rd Jul '23 - 10:48am

    If you are considering a coalition, or even a less formal ‘supply and confidence’ agreement wit Labour there are quite a few issues about which to you might want to find your voice.

    It may have escaped your notice but there have been a lot of illiberal goings on in the party in last few years. Labour HQ have a ‘termination squad’ which is tasked to trawl through members’ social media posts to look for reasons to expel members. It was perhaps understandable when it was just left members being targetted, but it’s spilled over to others now with the most recent high profile case involving Neal Lawson of Compass. He apparently expressed some approval for the use of some tactical voting.

    Also you perhaps should consider whether you can trust Keir Starmer to keep his side of the bargain. What he said, promised and pledged, before he was elected Labour Leader doesn’t count for anything now.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jun/30/labour-expelling-mp-activist-neal-lawson

  • Chris Moore 3rd Jul '23 - 10:50am

    @ John: you say, “…or Labour’s dinosaurs will wangle their way out of it as they managed in ’97.”

    It’s not a question of Labour dinosaurs wangling their way out: it’s not Labour Party policy to introduce PR.

    Anyone putting their hopes in Labour to obtain PR has not been paying attention.

  • David Evans 3rd Jul '23 - 12:34pm

    Martin (Gray),

    I note your comment about the difficulty in holding by-election gains historically, but I think you are mistaken in your timing. This coming general election is a one off-one that has only happened once before in the lifetime of almost everyone on this site. It is one where Conservative greed, mendacity and incompetence have come together to alienate a massive proportion of their normal vote. The previous time this happened was in 1997 and Labour gained 145 seats and we gained 26.

    This is the sort of number of gains we must make if we are to recover to anything remotely near to the position we achieved when Charles Kennedy was leader. Anything less will leave us firmly entrenched as a minor player in the HoC and we will continue to be ignored by the national media, while the Conservatives will once again steadily rebuild and we will be weaker than in a very long time.

    With it, we will get constituency staff for each gain – 4 or 5 iirc, plus extra short money to get head office back to something like we were up to in the 2000s.

    Our future depends upon this.

  • Keith
    The nz conversion to pr is informative as to how to fairly use referendums (unlike Brexit). There were 6 votes. 1. Do you want to change? 2. If yes, which system? 3. Preferred alternative v fptp? 4. After 1st election: happy or revert? 5. After 2nd election: happy or revert? After 3rd election: happy or revert?

  • Chris Moore 4th Jul '23 - 7:20am

    @Michael Cole:

    Your last post has no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether PR produces better governance and less corruption.

    I’m well aware the UK is the only democratic European country with FPTP. (France is like a two-round AV.)

    So what? How does that help your claim?

    Anyone who actually lives in a country like Spain, Italy, Poland etc etc will regard the claim that PR produces less corruption as laughable.

    PS Take a look at Malta, with a PR electoral system to be envied and deep-rooted problems of governance and corruption.

    I’m in favour of PR. But I’m against making manifestly false claims about its magical effects on governance.

  • Peter Martin 4th Jul '23 - 9:37am

    On the question of electoral systems and the quality of governance, advocates of PR might like to consider the almost perfect PR system of the Weimar Republic. We know what happened after that.

    We also know who came first in the last UK EU elections which were held under a less perfect PR system.

    This is not to say that we shouldn’t have PR but it would probably be a mistake to assume that the only significant change would be an increased representation for the Lib Dems. The two major parties would almost certainly split and perhaps also the Lib Dems.

  • Michael Cole 4th Jul '23 - 12:04pm

    Chris Moore 4th Jul ’23 – 7:20am:

    Nothing I can say will change your mind, so I won’t comment further.

  • Helen clark is worth listening to on a recent rest is politics podcast. Being Labour she wasn’t keen on PR but is now enthusiastic. Interestingly it’s actually helped the nz Labour party. Despite being the other side of the world, nz is a good place to see what the uk might do since in many ways nz is the closest to the uk in the world.

  • Martin Gray 5th Jul '23 - 5:14am

    Fine words Martin…
    It makes you wonder why the the only time the voting public engaged with the EU in significant numbers , was when it was given the opportunity to leave …

  • Chris, while this is only one opinion, the very well informed Video blog, “A Different Bias” carries the political views of obsessively delving host, Phil Moorhouse. He has long been a Labour member in favour of PR and tactical voting. He believes that Labour will see it as in their interests to introduce PR, late in a 1st or possibly 2nd term ( I realise it would take time), at least to include it in a manifesto. He also believes it is possible they may slip the possibility of it into the next manifesto as a low key, vague form of words, to assuage the Lords. This may be wishful thinking and he has been turned down as a Parliamentary candidate, but he is right on a great deal.

    It is worth remembering that the Tories just made a precedent of changing the voting system for Mayors and Police Commissioners from a fairly proportional one to FPTP, without it being in their manifesto.

    Perhaps this is just a crumb of comfort

  • John Waller 30th Jun ’23 – 8:05pm:
    I have just returned from the Arctic where summer ice is disappearing with possibly disastrous results.

    In recent summers Arctic sea ice extent has been trending upwards. This year it is larger again as shown by the solid green line in this live plot…

    Arctic sea ice extent: Entire northern hemisphere time series plot:
    https://nsidc.org/data/masie#anchor-1

    This plot compares sea ice extent over the last four weeks for this year compared to the last four weeks of the previous four years.

    Every expired prediction for the loss of arctic sea ice has turned out to be wrong. Ten such failed predictions are listed by The Extinction Clock:
    https://extinctionclock.org/

    …the Internet’s authoritative source for end of world climate and extinction predictions.

    This year’s ice is so thick that even Russia’s newest icebreaker, the Yevpatii Kolovrat, has had to transit the Suez Canal to get to its base in the North Pacific…

    ‘‘Thick Ice Forces Russian Ships To Take The Long Way Round; Record Cold Across Belarus And Latvia; + Chill Stretches Perth Power To The Brink’ [7th. June 2023]:
    https://electroverse.info/thick-ice-stops-russian-ships-record-cold-belarus-and-latvia-perth-power-on-the-brink/

    These nuclear-powered icebreakers are among the most powerful in the world, yet this year’s ice –even in May and June, so well after the March maximum– is proving too much even for them.

  • Peter Hirst 10th Jul '23 - 1:11pm

    Gerald Ford said “history is bunk” or words to that effect. If we’re going to inspire the electorate to vote for us in numbers we must have clear, progressive policies. Brexit was the wrong decision we should support rejoining as soon as possible. Labour’s policies are still weak and we should risk going further like the recent free school meals announcement. Working with other Parties on agreed policies or shifting the narrative in our direction is common sense whatever history might say.

  • Daniel Dayan 12th Jul '23 - 6:08pm

    A great article. Surely fundamental to any electoral success that the LD’s put forward a very few, clear and distinctive messages – Re-engage with the EU as fast as possible, Electoral reform, Realistic funding of social care & education, Fair taxation, Willingness to support any leading party in the HoC to achieve our aims.

    A Labour-lite programme is not likely to deliver success. Honesty re the EU, electoral reform and tax would be distinctive and sane.

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