Tag Archives: counter-factual

The Thorpe Affair – What if?

I am one of those with a fascination for history, who sometimes indulge in the practice of ‘What if?’. Some of you may know what I mean; but, if not, here are a few examples. Let’s start with 1066. What if King Harald had actually defeated Duke William of Normandy at the battle of Hastings? Scroll forward some eight hundred years and ask yourself what if President Abraham Lincoln had not attended Ford’s Theatre on that fateful night in April 1865? What if Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s driver hadn’t taken a detour in Sarajevo in June 1914 or what if Adolf Hitler hadn’t shortened his speech at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich in November 1939 and left early? And finally, more recently and perhaps nearer to home, what if Nick Clegg hadn’t accepted David Cameron’s ‘generous offer’ in May 2010? I’m sure you get the idea.

So, you might say, what has this got to do with Jeremy Thorpe and the Liberal Party? Well, what if, following a massive surge in support (around 20% of the popular vote) which, thanks to FPTP, resulted in only a derisory 14 MPs, he had managed to win over his colleagues and the party grassroots and accept the offer of Ted Heath to join a coalition government following the ‘Who governs Britain’ general election of February 1974?

The ‘baby boomers’ will surely remember the early 1970s, which started out with Heath’s surprise victory in the ‘70 General Election, when his government embarked upon a race for growth with the infamous ‘Barber Boom’, that, despite the inflation it eventually unleashed, especially in the housing market, appeared to many, even up to the summer of 1973, to be bearing fruit in economic terms, despite storm clouds on the horizon.

What really derailed the ‘project’, besides the Heath government’s inability to deal effectively with Trades Union militancy and ineffective management, was the OPEC oil embargo following the Yom Kippur War between the Arab states and Israel in October 1973 which saw oil prices quadruple in a matter of months, thus presenting unions such as the NUM with an open goal. Just to think that, only a few years earlier, the Economic Minister of the booming West German economy, Karl Schiller, had confidently claimed that “the future belongs to oil”.

Posted in Op-eds | 18 Comments

If the Lib Dems had won in 2015

In May 2015 I was a callow and energetic parliamentary candidate, motivating myself with the daydream, but not the expectation, of what the UK would look like in two years if the Liberal Democrats won an overall majority in the general election.

Nick Clegg was Prime Minister and Vince Cable was shopping for a new briefcase as the first Liberal chancellor of the the 21st century.

Even my far more modest hopes for the result of the 2015 were dashed, eight seats in parliament and several excellent liberals cast from it left me as devastated as Paddy Ashdown’s hat must have felt.

There …

Posted in News | 9 Comments
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    @Andrew "This morning I got a letter from the Conservatives asking for a donation (why me?)." That sounds like a very good question - if...
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  • User AvatarGlenn 25th Aug - 12:06am
    Andy Hinton The links are more important than a couple of shaved minutes here and there. I sometimes wonder if the real appeal of HS2...
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    Welcome back, Joe, you were missed, but I see you have not been missing much of what is going on! At the moment there is...
  • User AvatarAndy 24th Aug - 11:51pm
    I detest FPTP's simple plurality based system as much as anyone else and desperately want PR (not fussy as to whether MMP or STV). With...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 24th Aug - 11:50pm
    David Warren. Thanks, David for your comment at 2.18 pm. Your article plus your interventions have produced an interesting and varied discussion, with scope for...
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