Tag Archives: labour

Labour Party constitutional reform proposals

This week Keir Starmer launched a report for consultation entitled  ‘A New Britain: Renewing our Democracy and Rebuilding our Economy’.  It is admirably full of attitude survey results, international comparisons, and north-south contrasts.

The report has a solid narrative and an overall theme, and in this sense can be said to have a certain amount of clarity of purpose.

The emphasis is on what some might call ‘the real economy’ – industry and commerce, and small businesses, and social deprivation resulting from declining economic activity, especially outside London and the SE.

The ‘problem’ which the report focuses on addressing is a serious collapse in trust in the UK political and administrative system; which gets worse the further people are from London. It blames this not only on accelerated regional economic decline, but also on a corrupt and over-centralised governance system, where development and infrastructure proposals from areas distant from London, sit for decades at the bottom of the pile in Whitehall.  These conclusions have seemingly emerged in part from Labour mayors, and other government decentralisation processes around the UK over the last decade, where Labour leads. Rising Scottish and Welsh nationalism are also blamed in part on fiscal over-centralisation and mutual disdain with London.

The proposed remedies reflect the definition of the problem; greater participation of regions and nations in central decision-making (including a new second chamber of regions/nations to replace the House of Lords), moving central government civil servants out of London, and limited devolution of transport, employment support, and economic development spending decisions. One has to assume that the absence of basic detail behind the remedies means that they are still being worked through, (under cover of the report being ‘for consultation’; all the relevant consultees having already been consulted, it seems).

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Labour show their true colours

It has not been a great  week for those who think Liberal Democrats will find it easy to work with a minority Labour Government  or that Labour are our natural partners.

First we had Keir Starmer’s very odd comments on  people working in the NHS – where he said 

What I would like to see is the numbers go down in some areas. I think we’re recruiting too many people from overseas into, for example, the health service.

 

I have recently  spent time visiting someone in hospital and was struck by what a high % of the nursing and auxiliary staff were from overseas : what a message to send to them !  

Of course Starmer knows perfectly we need people from overseas to staff the NHS – this is pure dog whistle stuff designed to get a headline. 

Then we have that old  Labour favourite, identity cards. Labour’s last, fabulously expensive plan, for these was  rightly scuppered as one of the first  (and widely acclaimed ) actions of the Coalition but now  revived by Stephen Kinnock who says Labour is thinking : 

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Labour join the Tories in trying to remove Young People’s rights

On Monday Keir Starmer had an interview with Mumsnet. He was asked the, by now, depressingly standard question on children and young people having access to treatment and support for gender identity issues. His incompetent response threw every under 16 in the country under the bus.

“I feel very strongly that children shouldn’t be making these very important decisions without the consent of their parents. I say that as a matter of principle. We all know what it’s like with teenage children, I feel very strongly about this. This argument that children should make decisions without the consent of their parents is one I just don’t agree with at all.” – Keir Starmer

In a few sentences Starmer committed the Labour party to undoing nearly 40 years of medico-legal practice in the name of appeasing a tiny minority of authoritarians. At a stroke stating he would deny the children and young people of this country access to everything from paracetamol to abortion, vaccination to blood transfusions, if their parents don’t agree they should have access to it.

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Sorting out the mess

The country already had big issues to deal with before last Friday: price increases that are severely reducing the standard of living for many, a health service which is struggling to cope, climate change which is becoming more visible, and a  war in the Ukraine.

To this the government has added a completely unnecessary financial crisis. Another major unforced error following on from Brexit.

The best thing we can do to help sort out the mess is to get elected and to contribute in some form or other to a sensible and effective government. In this respect at least, the last week has moved us forward.

First, the Tories are making it easier for us to evict them (if more difficult to deal with the chaos once they have gone). They are backing policies that are both wrong and unpopular. Tax cuts for the rich. Incompetent economic management. Refusing to implement a windfall tax. Fracking. (Winchester, Wells, Lewes, Guildford and Esher are all interesting seats with fracking licences within the constituency or its hinterland)

Second, Labour is adopting reasonable political positions and has not yet messed up.  It would be naïve to assume that the Tories will lose (or that we will make significant progress) in the absence of a decent showing from Labour.  So it is therefore to be welcomed that hey had a largely successful conference this week on an electoral platform with many similarities to ours. There are obviously areas where policy is different, but there is a very large core we agree on. Look at the ‘pre manifesto’ prepared for our conference (Policy paper 149)  and Labour’s conference road map to a ‘Fairer, Greener, Future” and ask how much difference a neutral observer would see.  Conversely consider the clear water between what both parties are now saying compared to the Tories.  We know where we all stand.  (Labour members even voted in favour of PR – though it seems unlikely that this will be adopted by Starmer any time soon.)

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Labour backs PR? Don’t hold your breath

Yesterday, Labour’s conference a motion calling for its next manifesto to include a commitment to introduce Proportional representation for parliamentary elections.

On one hand, it’s good to see the Labour conference finally catch up with us. We have long supported giving voters the Parliament they ask for.

Labour have, of course, introduced proportional voting systems before, in the Welsh and Scottish assemblies. Directly elected mayors are also elected by supplementary voting.  However, they have stuck with first past the post for Westminster because why wouldn’t they when it benefitted them.

Yesterday’s vote is significant in that it shows that the voices calling for change are growing. However, Keir Starmer and the Labour leadership have basically made it clear that it has as much chance of appearing in the manifesto as handing out a free unicorn to every 7 year old.

From The Guardian:

Before the vote, a senior Labour source downplayed the prospect of electoral reform even if Starmer wins the next election. “Anyone who thinks this would be a priority for the first term of a Labour government is kidding themselves,” they said.

However, what happens if, after the next General Election, Labour is short of a majority in the House of Commons. Obviously it depends on the exact numbers, but it is something we and the Greens could demand as the price of our support. From the Times Red Box this morning:

But Lara Spirit hears that those behind yesterday’s vote are jubilant. They don’t care, one admitted to her, about PR being in the manifesto, where its likely omission is currently considered fatal.

They wager that, should Labour win without a majority or with a slim and unstable one, Liberal Democrats and/or Greens will demand support for PR. And Labour will be forced to give it. In the eyes of those she spoke to celebrating yesterday, it’s now official Labour policy. In that scenario, how could they not?

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What if the Tories lose an Autumn 2022 General Election?

The temptation for Liz Truss to call a General Election soon after becoming Tory leader might be too much to resist. A shiny new leader might enable them to win. But I’m wondering about the other side: might they be planning to lose? In an ideal world they’d have done that before Boris Johnson’s position became completely untenable, but there’s a narrow window in which Truss might be able to lead per party to defeat and survive as leader by blaming her predecessor.

We need to think about this because it would inform our campaign and shape some difficult decisions afterwards.

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Are Lib Dem concerns different from the Tories and Labour? Tory yes, Labour not so much

Most of us have gotten fed up with the deluge of opinion polls of late. On top of the usual run of surveys, there are all those surveys for the leadership election. Many seem designed to fill newspaper columns rather than advance the debate or help the unrepresentative few chose the next prime minister.

But two surveys caught my eye this week. A YouGov tracker illustrates what we know or perhaps guess about political priorities. Voters for all three parties believe that the economy is the most important issue, with the greatest concern among Lib Dems. But fewer than a quarter of Tories think that the environment in among the top three issues facing the country, compared to half of Lib Dems and Labour voters. There is not a huge difference between the parties on concern about health but the Lib Dems are the most concerned. When it comes to being concerned about immigration and asylum, the Tories are in a league of their own.

Another YouGov survey for Times Radio shows that Lib Dems prefer to shop at Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. Labour supporters prefer Asda and Morrisons. As for the Tories, they are all over the place.

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Times: Keir Starmer is “Ed Davey tribute act”

In the Times (£), Matt Chorley points out that Keir Starmer is on a push to steal the Lib Dems’ big ideas:

So the Labour leader is back. And we now know what he was doing in Spain: trying to get on the Lib Dem website using up whatever 4G was left in his mobile package now that free roaming, which wasn’t going to disappear after Brexit, amazingly disappeared after Brexit.

I’ve lost track of where we were with the Starmer Relaunch Roulette game, but whoever had “Ed Davey tribute act” has had a good week. On October 26 last year Davey called for a windfall tax on energy companies. Twelve weeks later, Starmer did the same. And then Rishi Sunak did it. On August 9, Davey called for the energy price cap rise to be scrapped. Five days later, Starmer came back from his hols and followed suit.

And he hasn’t stopped yet:

Also back on August 9 the Lib Dems demanded that parliament be recalled. It took Starmer a few more days to get to that bit of their snazzy new website, but lo and behold, yesterday Labour emailed Boris Johnson demanding parliament be recalled.

Chorley quotes Ed’s tweet:

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Labour takes control of Liverpool from Labour!!

Liverpool’s Labour Councillors have effectively been stripped of control of the Council after the Government has appointed a new Strategic Futures Advisory Panel to work alongside the Commissioners to run our City and plan for its future.

The new partnership will see the elected mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, the former Labour Leader of Leeds, Baroness Blake, and Sir Howard Bernstein who worked for years as the Chief Executive to Sir Richard Lees in Manchester effectively set the future direction of the City whilst the Commissioners will effectively run the City.

Effectively this means that national Labour have been appointed to take over the vital discussions on the future of the City whilst Liverpool Labour have effectively been frozen out of any major decisions on running the City by the appointment of a 5th Commissioner for Finance.

So as a Lib Dem who does believe in democracy what do you think I am doing about this? With great regret I am supporting it all the way!

I am doing so because this was inevitable given the depths to which our City have been dragged by Joe Anderson’s Labour Party and the obvious inability of Joanne Anderson’s Labour Party to put things right.

The Council has until 2nd September to respond to the proposals which should be done on an all-Party basis. I have already emailed the Mayor and other Group Leaders to suggest we need to have an urgent meeting of Group Leaders to try and unite behind a common response to the Government’s opinion. What we need to avoid is the sort of cat fight between various factions of the Labour Party and those that left them that occur too regularly within the Council.

For my part I will recommend that the Liberal Democrats accept the situation and work positively with both the Commissioners and Strategic Futures Group to try and map out a way forward in the short and medium term. As democrats we regret that these steps are necessary. As pragmatic politicians who love our City, we recognise that in the short term these steps are inevitable.

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An informal Lib-Lab pact makes sense – but is it a poison chalice for the Lib Dems?

On paper, an informal Lib-Lab pact at the next General Election makes sense. Whatever you want to call it – informal, non-aggressive, unofficial, secret – an agreement is reportedly in place, and it makes political sense.

It makes political sense as we are in a unique situation. The Lib Dems and Labour have not always been on friendly terms, particularly at the local level where campaigning styles often clash, and in some constituencies and Councils they never will be. Yet at the next General Election (if it takes place in 2024) the Conservatives will have been in power for 14 years, and for all their faults, have arguably played a good electoral strategy and outmanoeuvred Labour and the Lib Dems. If the Tories are to lose their majority, it will require a united front from the opposition to target the voters disillusioned by partygate, failing to see the benefits of Brexit and unlikely to benefit from levelling up.

Labour knows they can’t take on the Tories on their own. They are unlikely to regain seats in Scotland and will face an uphill struggle to win back ‘Red Wall’ seats in traditional Labour heartlands. The Party is also facing huge funding issues, with unions slashing donations, meaning resources are thin on the ground. The Lib Dems on the other hand know they can win traditional ‘Blue Wall’ seats, as demonstrated in Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire, to take crucial seats away from the Conservatives. And the Conservatives are worried about the local electoral machine that the Lib Dems have deployed in these by-elections. Making a speech at Conservative Spring Conference last weekend, Party Chairman Oliver Dowden said the Tories are “going to have to fight this one seat by seat… doorstep by doorstep” and that it needs “to be reminding people that the best way to tackle the cost of living locally”.

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Reforming the UK’s electoral system: The view from Labour

At the time of writing, Ukraine dominates the news, a shocking reminder of how precious and precarious democracy is. As Tom Brake of Unlock Democracy has written, “Whilst we feel enormous sadness at a moment like this, it also reminds us why the work we do matters.

The political battle to reform the UK’s electoral system is of course incomparable to the very real battle faced by the people in Ukraine. But the terrible events of recent days should motivate us all to defend and fight to extend with renewed vigour democracy in the UK. That aim is the essence of the Labour for a New Democracy (L4ND) campaign.

There are many well-evidenced reasons why, for Labour supporters, it makes sense to do away with First Past The Post (FPTP). In 19 of the last 20 elections the majority of the popular vote has been for parties to the left of the Conservatives yet we have had Conservative governments for two thirds of that time. The relative inefficiency of Labour’s vote means it repeatedly fails to do quite well enough to get over the line in many seats whilst in others its votes pile up to no effect. 34 of the 35 ‘safest’ seats in the UK are held by Labour.

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Real recovery starts with local government

I’m sure that some of you may see my name and the title of this article and think: “There he is, banging on about local government yet again”. Guilty as charged, Your Honour. The reason for my ‘banging on’ again has been prompted by an article in today’s Guardian by one of its leader writers, entitled ‘Local Politics is cutting a path for Labour’. Being the Guardian, the answer would of course be Labour. Wouldn’t it? However, the writer’s sudden discovery that there IS political life outside the Westminster bubble is welcome. However, some of us have been well ahead of him down the road to Damascus and, having served as councillors for many years – in my case thirty – we know most of the pitfalls.

What I have discovered is that you can succeed in local government by dint of your personality rather than the colour of the rosette you wear. If Labour is waking up to the potential of local government, why isn’t the party that turned community politics into an art form?

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So how might a progressive alliance work?

In today’s Guardian, our Layla Moran, Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour MP Clive Lewis argue that we need progressive parties to come to an arrangement to beat the Tories.

Meanwhile the rightwing parties have consolidated, after the Tories swallowed the Brexit party whole. But progressives remain split, competing for the same voters – we divide; they conquer.

And yet poll after poll shows there is a progressive majority. We need to shape and win that majority.

This is why citizens are now using their votes wisely, to back the best-placed non-Tory; and why, under the radar, local parties are campaigning tactically to best direct their resources.

They argue against the tribalism that prevents progressive parties working together:

Old politics holds us back. The Labour rulebook demands the party stands candidates in every seat, regardless of whether doing so guarantees another Tory win. Local parties should be allowed to decide. But tribalism runs deep everywhere, and trust takes times to grow, with the inevitable result of another likely general election loss. We cannot allow that to happen. This self-defeating tribalism must go. While well-intentioned, party bureaucracies could be the last bastions of the old politics to fall. If this needs to be a grassroots alliance, then so be it.

Part of the problem with the idea of a progressive alliance was that loads of people think it’s a fab idea, but nobody has been able to set out how it might work in practice. But in recent years, there have been some good examples of where parties have worked together to our mutual gain.

Layla’s arrangement with the Greens in Oxfordshire has helped both parties and hurt the Tories badly. From Lib Dem wins in Oxford West and Abingdon in 2017 and 2019 to a joint administration of Lib Dem Labour and Green ousting the Tories from power in Oxfordshire County Council in May this year, this is a shining example of how a progressive alliance can work in practice. The test will be whether they can govern as cleverly as they have campaigned.

During the leadership election last year, Layla talked about how she had made great efforts to win over the Greens in the run up to her win in 2017. She went along to their meetings and talked to them and answered some tough questions. She put the effort into building up strong relationships with them on the ground.

However, the Unite to Remain effort at the 2019 election was doomed to failure, mainly because Labour refused to get involved and partly because it was imposed on seats in a way that was never going to work.

The last time Caroline Lucas faced a Lib Dem in her Brighton Pavilion seat was in 2015. Her then opponent Chris Bowers went on to co-edit The Alternative, an argument for a more progressive politics with her and Labour’s Lisa Nandy. I interviewed both Chris and Caroline for Lib Dem Voice back in 2016.

No progressive alliance would work without the co-operation of the Labour Party. In 1997, we and Labour by and large kept out of each other’s way except in places like Chesterfield where we were genuinely fighting each other for the seat. I was involved in that campaign and our move forward then put us in pole position for Paul Holmes to win in 2001.

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All quiet on the Brexit front

To judge by the silence in the media, Brexit is done and dusted, and the country has already moved on. Or perhaps it was all a bad dream and never happened.
Of course, the covid-19 pandemic has eclipsed much of the other news, but this is not entirely explained. There have been plenty of problems: mountains of red tape that never perished in any bonfire, failed deliveries, cargoes of rotting fish. Of course, the Government has played these minor irritations down, no surprise there. But more puzzlingly, Kier Starmer has staged a judicious retreat from the Brexit battlefield, fearful no doubt …

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Liberal Democrat electoral and policy pact with Labour, or not?

The party has been buzzing with pro and anti ‘pact’ debate, and some parliamentarians have been espousing contrasting views.

On 11th December the Guardian featured an article ‘Starmer Urged to Start Co-operating with the Lib Dems’ on the necessity of a pact for Labour. A Liberal Democrat branch of the ‘Compass Group’ has been formed.

Here I have a stab at synthesising the two Liberal Democrat arguments. The party as a whole needs to decide. Which view do you support?

View 1

The lurch to the right of the Conservative Party has changed the landscape for the Lib Dems. Since the Tories adopted the tool of encouraging anti-immigrant sentiment to undermine Labour in its heartlands, and since the rise of the SNP, it has become very difficult for Labour to achieve a parliamentary majority on its own. This is true however popular Keir Starmer becomes.

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Labour Progressive?

I keep hearing siren party voices yet again hankering after a “progressive alliance” against the Conservatives. I firmly agree with John Pardoe’s adage of old that “a hatred of the Conservative party is the beginning of political wisdom”, but I fear that the very idea of the Labour party being “progressive” is, frankly, risible. It is one of the besetting chimeras of Liberals to have a dream that one day the Labour party will change. No-one who has challenged Labour in its industrial fiefs will succumb to such a fanciful concept. Labour believes in hegemony and control, and it has done since its early days. Once Ramsay Macdonald had negotiated the 1903 Pact with the gullible Herbert Gladstone and established a parliamentary foothold of thirty MPs, it then pursued its myopic single party aim without deviation. It prefers to be in opposition and to lose than to share any power. There is no better example than the first Labour government of 1924 which preferred to fall and to go into the electoral wilderness than to have even a minimal co-operation with the Liberals. Even in 2010, there was no possibility of a Lib-Lab coalition once Douglas Alexander had stated that they under no circumstances would they co-operate with the Scottish Nationalists.

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The road map to 2024

We are all heartily fed up with this government but unfortunately we are likely to have to put up with them for some while yet. When we do get the chance to kick them out which will probably be sometime in 2024 and we need to be in the best possible shape to do so.

Right at the top of the list has to be some level of cooperation with the Labour Party. Having spoken to hundreds of members during the recent leadership election I can testify that there is overwhelming support for this regardless of which candidate was being supported. Both Ed and Layla set out a similar vision as to how this could work and that needs to be put into action ASAP. It doesn’t mean the withdrawal of candidates anywhere – that would be counterproductive – but it does mean trying to re-employ the approach so successfully deployed by Paddy Ashdown in the run up to the 1997 General Election. Of course the price for us must be a firm commitment to electoral reform.

The other lesson we must learn is that building any relationship will take time, so we need to unite behind our new leader and give him time. I appreciate that many fellow Liberals found the result personally devastating. As an enthusiastic supporter of Layla I was disappointed but I am determined to put it behind for the greater good; millions of our fellow citizens are suffering under this cruel government and we need to get them out.

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The Independent View: Can Ed Davey help a political realignment?

The Lib Dems have been in the doldrums.  But make no mistake, their Party matters to the future of progressive politics in the UK a lot.

First because ‘liberalism’ matters. Against populism and statism, the place of the individual and more broadly a healthy civil society, based around robust human rights, are essential to any progressive politics. And second because Labour cannot win on its own.

Ed Davey has rejected equidistance and working with the Tories. It’s game on. But to play properly together means getting over the past.

When Compass, the organisation I’m Director of, opened out from being just Labour in 2011, the Coalition made Lib-Labery impossible. The Corbyn era put up new barriers. With the Brexit fight lost and Starmer leading Labour there is a chance to build sensible cooperation.

This demands a recognition of common interests and different complementary traditions.  Liberals are not socialists, but both can and must compliment each other in terms of ideas, beliefs and electoral reach. And anyway, Labour, the party of the Iraq War, 90-day detention and antisemitism, needs to be careful about claiming any moral high ground.

Given Scotland, there is little or no hope of Labour winning alone. It either leads and shares some power or returns to the wilderness and leaves the country in the hands of the Tories once again. The Lib Dems are second in 91 seats – 80 of them are Tory facing and none where they present a real challenge to Labour. To get the Tories out means the Lib Dems have to win as many of those seats as possible. The electoral maths demands cooperation, whether its tactical campaigning or something more formal.

In many cases the Lib Dem targets are soft Tory voters who may never vote Labour – unless Labour goes full New Labour once more. That, to say the least, is unadvisable in a world where neoliberalism is crumbling before our eyes. Letting the Lib Dems soak up these voters, actually leaves Labour the space to be more radical.

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What next?

This has been a difficult year for everybody. We have all been in lockdown, giving us all time to reflect.  This process finally enabled me to  build up the courage to leave the Labour Party and join the Liberal Democrats.

But why?

Simply as Labour is no longer a party that champions progressive politics. I do believe the Lib Dems have learnt from the coalition – but let’s be real, we are still polling at 6%.

So with all this doom and gloom why join now? Well it’s simple, now more than ever Liberal Democrats have a golden opportunity to rebuild themselves as a real political force within our country and I want to be a part of that.

Let’s look at Scotland, where Scottish Labour are the so called main progressive opposition to the SNP … well, to be frank, they leave a lot to be desired. Scottish progressives who believe in the union deserve an opposition who are actually competent. We as a party need to show that it is us who are proud to be a unionists and ready to oppose the SNP, especially on education where they are slowly destroying it piece by piece, while Labour look like headless chickens. Liberal Democrats need to show competence, unity and fundamentally show that we are leading the way on policy.

Next year we have the local elections. This will be a big test for us as a party and especially for the new leader. One thing we must remember is that being anti Conservative does not mean we are pro Labour, and if we do go into alliance with other parties in local government we do not compromise our basic Liberal Values and beliefs. We must be bold when holding Labour councils to account and ambitious in what we demand for our communities.

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William Wallace writes: The next coalition?

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Rather than beating ourselves up about the record of the 2010 Coalition, we should be thinking about how we would handle the next one.  In the 2019 election campaign our leader promoted the fantasy that we could sweep into government, in spite of our structurally-hostile electoral system, on our own.  Look forward to the 2022-4 general election, and contemplate its possible outcomes: a Labour landslide, overcoming their 124-seat deficit to gain a clear majority on their own (a huge mountain to climb); a continuing Conservative majority, smaller than now; or a no-majority parliament, in which we and other ‘minority parties’ would have to decide how to negotiate for stable government to continue.

If no party won a majority of seats, most of our current members would instinctively prefer to support or join with the Labour Party in constructing an alternative to near-permanent Conservative government.  But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that this would be significantly easier than working with the Conservatives.

We’ve tried Lib/Lab cooperation three times in my political lifetime. After the 1964 election, when Harold Wilson’s majority was marginal and support for Labour shaky, Jo Grimond offered outside support. Wilson responded with warm words.  But when opinion polls turned up for Labour, Wilson famously mocked the Liberals in his speech to the Labour conference, campaigned for a decisive majority, and in the 1966 election ended Grimond’s hopes for a ‘realignment of the left.’

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New leader should be banging on Starmer’s door on day one

The election of Kier Starmer as leader of the Labour Party, and therefore the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, presents a challenge for us as Liberal Democrats. On the one hand, it’s good news for our democracy that there’s now a serious Leader of the opposition who will be asking probing questions of this terrible Conservative government.

On the other hand, it presents a threat to us. A Starmer-led Labour Party will be fishing in the same pond of voters that we hope to seek support from. Some who had fled Corbyn’s Labour may now return to them. Our chances of making inroads into Labour-held seats that voted Remain in 2016 will have significantly diminished.

We are probably never going to see an overall Labour majority in this country again. They’ve lost Scotland to the SNP, and the Tories have breached the so-called ‘red wall’ in the north of England. It seems unlikely that many of those seats are coming back to them any time soon.

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Should Left-leaning Liberal Democrats back the policies of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party

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In January Sir Keir Starmer, then a candidate for Labour’s leadership, wrote an article in the Guardian about his motivations and values. There was much in what he revealed there likely to appeal to Liberal Democrats of a centre-left persuasion.

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The next general election will be a Conservative-facing one: some stats

Following the 2019 general election, we are now second in 91 seats, of which 80 are held by the Conservatives and just 9 by Labour (the other 2 are held by the SNP). Of the 10 seats where we are closest (less than 3000 votes behind), 8 are currently held by The Conservatives.

You can model some interesting seat projections based on various swing scenarios. As shown by Electoral Calculus:

In other words, when we take votes off Labour then The Conservatives win, Labour lose and we barely move. When we take votes off The Conservatives then they lose, we win and Labour also win.

From Labour’s point of view, the story is similar:

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Why I won’t be re-joining Labour

Currently I have a lot of people on my Twitter feed asking ex-Labour members like me to re-join the party to wrest control back from the Corbynites. For a fleeting second, I do feel a tiny pull, the old vestigial loyalty flickers for a moment but then just as swiftly dies.

Since I joined the Liberal Democrats just over a year ago after a long (too long) time in Labour, I have discovered that this party is the true home of radical, progressive politics. As someone on the Centre Left, I feel far more comfortable here than I ever did in Labour.

Why? First, because I feel that I have an equal voice in this party and a real say in policy rather than just being the canvass fodder I was in Labour; party democracy in the Lib Dems is real rather than a vague aspiration. Second, linked to the first point, I have been able to set up an official group within the Party (the Liberal Democrat Autism Group). As far as I am aware this is the only party Autism group in the UK; a great example of both the freedom we have as members and of our party’s inclusive values. Third, this party is a truly broad church – left-wingers like me can happily co-exist, debate and work with those on the Centre Right; in the Labour Party the different factions exist in a permanent state of cold war, hating and distrusting each other almost, if not more, than they hate the Tories and us.

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Time for an electoral pact with Labour

So the Tories have won again, no surprise there then, they usually do under our grossly unfair electoral system. The question is what do we do about it if we don’t want to see the Conservatives win power more often than not in the future.

Having a split opposition composed of centre left parties standing in every constituency against a right wing one is a recipe for further disasters. If we look at history we will see that on the majority of occasions when the Tories have been kept out of power have either been when there has been one dominant centre left party or when there has been some kind of electoral arrangement.

It was the Liberal Party back in the early part of the last century that recognised that the emerging Labour Party was going to damage its electoral prospects if something wasn’t done. What followed was a deal where in certain constituencies there was only a Labour or Liberal candidate facing the Tory not both.

Of course over time Labour supplanted us as the main opposition and the first Labour government only happened due to Liberal support in the commons. During that brief administration serious discussions were held regarding a change to a proportional voting system for Westminster elections. It is a tragedy that they failed.

It is no coincidence that the period of Labour’s high tide also coincided with the nadir of British Liberalism. Since 1974 Liberals have once again been a significant force in our nations politics and the Tories have benefited.

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Catch-up: 24 November 2019 – the day’s press releases (part 1)

Gotten myself into a bit of a backlog position, I’m afraid – the price you pay for going to St Albans, it seems…

  • Lib Dems to invest 7 billion to save our schools
  • Lib Dems: McDonnell refuses to come clean on Brexit
  • EU staff at Johnson’s local NHS trust feel “anxiety” over Brexit
  • Lib Dems: Tory manifesto is built on a lie

Lib Dems to invest 7 billion to save our schools

The Liberal Democrats have today announced an extra £7 billion over five years from the Party’s infrastructure budget for new school buildings and repairs to keep up with rising pupil numbers.

The funding will …

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12 November 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • Liberal Democrats pledge to invest in flood defences
  • Jane Dodds to Unveil Lib Dem Plan for a Brighter Future
  • Corbyn can’t afford lifelong learning if he doesn’t stop Brexit

Liberal Democrats pledge to invest in flood defences

The Liberal Democrats have announced plans to create a £5bn flood prevention and adaptation fund.

As the world grapples with a climate emergency, the Tories are turning their backs on communities most at risk by failing to provide adequate flood defences. The Tory’s Brexit agenda risks the UK losing access to vital EU funds for improving flood defences and flood relief. This would starve local communities of …

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11 November 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Gwynne’s comments reveal Labour’s hand on Brexit
  • British Steel takeover an ‘alarm bell’ for Tories’ Brexit Britain
  • Lib Dems: Brexit to blame for ‘anaemic’ economic growth
  • Davey: Conservatives and Brexit party are now one and the same
  • Lib Dems file proceedings at High Court for judicial review of ITV debate
  • ERG and Brexit Party talks show Farage is now pulling the strings

Lib Dems: Gwynne’s comments reveal Labour’s hand on Brexit

Responding to comments by Labour’s Campaign Coordinator, Andrew Gwynne, that Labour would seek to create “reciprocal agreements with the EU27 that allow British citizens to enjoy some of the freedoms that they will …

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9-10 November 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

That’s rather embarrassing, in that I managed to fall asleep mid-edit. So, time to catch up…

  • Lib Dems respond to Conservative announcement on GP appointments
  • Lib Dems: Boris Johnson should call Cobra meeting over flooding emergency
  • Labour People’s Vote promise rings hollow – Lib Dems
  • Labour People’s Vote promise rings hollow – Lib Dems
  • Lib Dems: Manifestos must receive OBR scrutiny

Lib Dems respond to Conservative announcement on GP appointments

Responding to the Conservative Party’s announcement today on GP appointments, Luciana Berger, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, said:

This latest Tory announcement isn’t offering any real solutions to the current

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2-3 November 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Lib Dems lodge election debate complaint with ITV
  • Lib Dems: Dithering Labour leadership shows they’re not fit for office
  • Lib Dems: Labour have no plan to tackle the climate emergency
  • Election debates should be set independently – Liberal Democrats

Lib Dems lodge election debate complaint with ITV

The Liberal Democrats have lodged a formal complaint to ITV for excluding Jo Swinson from their election debate and warned “failing to have Liberal Democrats in the debate is misrepresenting the current political reality.”

In a letter to ITV Chief Executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, the President of the Liberal Democrats Sal Brinton said “voters of this country deserve …

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