Tag Archives: natalie elphicke

Labour’s turmoil presents the LibDems as the home for those with centre-left progressive values

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Quoting Labour’s Harold Wilson might stir some feathers to our LibDem audience, but amidst the political whirlwind, it’s fitting to recall our famous working man’s pipe-smoking ex-Prime Minister who seemed to be born into a trench-coat, rather than a birthday suit. His famous quip was “a week is a long time in politics.” And my goodness, what a week it has been.

We witnessed Natalie Elphicke, one of three former Conservatives who have recently joined Labour. Whilst the previous two defections might have surprised some and been welcomed by all within Labour, Elphicke’s departure was one that surprised everyone and was not welcomed by some from within Labour. Honestly, if you had asked me personally, I would have put better bets on her throwing herself into the coast in her constituency in Dover, to help toe a boat of Refugees onto British shores, than this. We are still yet to see the full political fallout of this choice accepted by Labour, given her right-wing views on immigration, culture wars, and, not too long ago, unflattering remarks she made about the Labour leadership. And this is only scratching the surface, given the comments she made about her husband’s victims that got caught up in his sexual misconduct trial and her attempts to influence it.

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Strong Parliament is better than strong Government

Kier Starmer’s invitation for Natalie Elphicke to join him on the Labour benches is a dreadful piece of political opportunism. At a time when public trust in politicians is at an all-time low, welcoming an MP who was a member of the ERG and whose views have long placed her to the far right of Ghengis Khan is a staggering shot in the foot. The backlash the following morning runs from the Guardian to the Express. Few see this as the move of a statesman.

So, why has he scored this own goal? He doesn’t need her to improve Labour’s polling, and he will soon discover what a thorn in the flesh she is to any party. But he just couldn’t resist sticking the knife into Rishi Sunak and twisting it a little further. It’s pathetic. Such naiveté is troubling for anyone viewing him as a viable Prime Minister, especially for many Labour MPs and members. It will undoubtedly lose him more votes than it gains.

For the Liberal Democrats and other progressive parties, he has created an opportunity. Many centre-left voters will baulk at the idea of someone with such poor statecraft having an overwhelming majority in Parliament. For decades, the pushback against electoral reform was that proportional representation promised coalitions and ‘weak’ government. But since 2015 we have seen unassailable majority parliaments wielded like wrecking balls by a slew of dreadful Prime Ministers. Boris Johnson alone proved how dangerous unfettered majority government can be in the hands of a maniac.

Of course, the LibDems are still hampered by the residual disdain for coalition that both Labour and the Tories disseminated throughout the electorate. But it is residual and Rishi Sunak’s inept steering of Johnson’s legacy majority is much more in-your-face vote influencer.

The path the LibDems must surely follow now is one of vision, maturity and common sense. Whatever the Jenricks, Bravermans, Andersons, Tices and Farages, or even the Corbyns may think, the majority of British people are centrist – that’s why it’s called the centre. They want change, indeed they may be desperate for it, but they don’t want more ideology forced upon them.

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Opinion: Tackling Britain’s housing crisis

Terraced housingLiberal Democrats have long recognised the housing crisis that has grown steadily worse since the 1979 Conservative Government stopped councils building new homes.  In Government, Liberal Democrats have made a good start at increasing the number of affordable homes built for rent, with 335,000 homes to be completed between 2011 and 2018, and supported initiatives to help deliver market housing.

We’ve also agreed an ambitious target of 300,000 new homes each year for overall housing supply as party policy.  But even with some councils starting to build again, there is a long way to go before anywhere near enough homes are built each year in Britain to meet need. 

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