The Core Vote

Through the feeds of politics-internet I haven’t been able to escape the BMG research on the UK’s political clans (find out yours here). If you’ve managed to escape the discussion there’s more information in The Independent (and a more in depth report here), but basically it splits people into ten values and identity groups and then analyses how each vote, essentially highlighting how fractured the current alignments are and how little the current party system reflects these clans.

For liberals of all stripes, the initial findings can be disheartening. People with explicitly authoritarian beliefs make up the largest part of the electorate at 38 percent. Those who might broadly be termed liberal are a much smaller group.

It’s not scientific, but the smattering of polls in various Lib Dem online discussion forums suggest that roughly two thirds of our members are ‘Orange Bookers’ (OBs). This is a group who favour market solutions but are broadly in favour of redistribution and government intervention when the evidence supports it. They’re supportive of free trade, free movement of people and are optimistic about multiculturalism. Another third are ‘Global Green Community’ (GGC). BMG define these as those with a more interventionist view on the economy, but with liberal and environmentalist stances on social issues. They want government to pursue an ethical foreign policy, and have little interest in the nation-state, preferring a civic interpretation of Britishness. After that we have a small smattering of members who fall into one or two other camps.

Alas, Lib Dem support can’t be counted upon in these two groups. We don’t poll overwhelmingly well with any clan but we do best with the Orange Bookers, taking 17 percent of their support at the 2017 GE (the remainder split almost evenly between the Tories and Labour). When we look to our other liberal core things look rather grim; a staggering 83 percent of GGCs voted Labour, with our party taking just 9 percent. If I had to describe them in columnist terms I’d call them the youthquake demographic, with their hearts having been stolen by Corbyn and his merry band of Labourites. While unfortunately BMG don’t cover voting patterns prior to the 2015 GE, it seems likely we did pick up a lot more of these voters prior to the Coalition.

But that doesn’t mean we need to despair. If we want to pursue a core-vote strategy it makes sense to maximise our Orange Booker vote. As BMG notes, between the 2015 and 2017 elections “the Lib Dems were able to retain the support of one “core” clan (Orange Bookers) that now proves vital to their electoral survival and revival”. So if we are going to find a group that will reliably stick with up between elections, it makes sense to start with the OBs. Socially liberal, pro-EU and currently described as the type most likely to call us “a wasted vote”, they’re politically homeless, under-served and we should be hoping to poll as well with them as Corbyn does with the GGC. That means we need to be burnishing our pro-business policies, keep fighting for a second referendum, and be prepared to stick up for immigration.

That’s not to overlook the need to expand our reach elsewhere; OBs are just 8 percent of the population. The GGC and ‘Modern Working Life’ groups also have rather liberal attitudes, and while it’s hard to see how we can dislodge the former from Labour in the near future, developing policies that address hip-pocket issues may be the key to gaining support from the latter.

There was some recent polling done for the London Mayoral which found that whenever the Lib Dems were in the news, regardless of what the story was, we started to poll better. There’s a whole group of people out there who wholeheartedly agree with us and we should be doing whatever we can to make sure they know that.

* Aria Babu lives in London and is on the Board of Liberal Reform.

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35 Comments

  • Spot on Aria! Very much agree with all of this, but will the party listen?

  • Given the amount of vitriol aimed at Clegg, Laws, Alexander et al, this comes as a timely reality check that a lot of people who identify with our party don’t view orange book views as some kind of Tory lite.

  • Bearing in mind that it was the lurch to the right, associated with key members of the Orange Book generation that destroyed so much of what previous generations of liberal had built up, I can only conclude that there remain many in positions of influence who would rather continue to charge along the road to electoral oblivion, than admit they got it wrong.

  • Aria Babu suggests Liberal Democrats should maximise policies with an Orange Booker stamp. It may have escaped her notice that the party entered into its present parlous state precisely because if followed such policies between 2010 and 2015.

  • I’m sceptical about how well the clans concept works.

    First time I did it, I got ‘Orange Booker’, but when I forced myself to avoid the neither button I got ‘Global Green Community.’

    Maybe I’m just borderline, but I’m not convinced that people can be put into neat boxes so easily.

  • Thanks v. much for highlighting this research. I think it is important for those that are active in politics to think of the electorate in different ways.

    But I have several reservations.
    1. All these surveys/research tend to feedback the results that you put in. Answer a question that you are strongly in favour of adoption of adoption by same sex couples and – surprise, surprise – you end up in a group that is strongly in favour of same sex couples’ adoption! It is a little circular!

    2. There remain big fault lines in party support on age and on earnings – even if Brexit may have narrowed and blurred these a bit. And there is the old adage that you get more right wing and Conservative (with a small and big C) as you get older.

    3. I believe that we have a lot to offer for example working class people in Liverpool that Labour take for granted and our councillors and campaigners there are doing so and it has been an area that we have done well at a council level in the past. But this may not be a particular socially liberal area and not full of many of “clans” that support us according to this research.

    4. Equally it does not explain why we hold seats such as Eastbourne and that we can get over 45% in what is at least stereotypically quite a Conservative area with an older electorate. And if we get over 45% we should be able to get over 45% in many, many areas.

    And I suspect that it is because we have campaigners and an MP/PPC that have campaigned very hard on issues that concern everyone such as jobs/apprenticeships, health etc. etc. And there is a tendency to “slice and dice” the electorate rather than going out and campaigning against the Labour/Conservative council, hospital closures, for a new pedestrian crossing etc.

  • I doubt our loss of support in 2015 was about the policies we’d delivered during government. Like other small parties in coalition (look at the fate of Dutch Labour, and the rather dire polls our ALDE allies D66 are now seeing), you take a hammering if you go about business in a rather orderly manner. Perhaps the thing to do differently is be a lot more confrontational with the larger party.

    At any rate, if we’d gone in with Labour (had the maths worked out) we’d have likely seen just as much support go. We’d spent decades building up a ‘all things to all people’ vote based on excellent local campaigning, good candidates, and anti-establishment goodwill. How else can you explain the loss of many LD voters to UKIP during the coalition? As soon as we got in government we were going to lose votes.

    The question now is how we get back to 15 percent or more, and as Mark Pack says, a core vote strategy is necessary to ensure we don’t fall as far when we experience setbacks in the future. Chasing the OB vote looks like the best way of getting a rather steadfast voting base.

  • Peter Watson 15th Nov '18 - 12:48pm

    At first glance, the report seems to be based upon 2015 Lib Dems, so might over-emphasise those Lib Dems who can be characterised by support for the party’s actions in Coalition government while excluding former Lib Dems like me (for the record, “Global Green Community” apparently) who moved away after 2010. Polling and election results suggest we were a majority of Lib Dem votes at that time.
    Hence the very understandable reaction of the two Davids above to the notion that “If we want to pursue a core-vote strategy it makes sense to maximise our Orange Booker vote”. Perhaps the party is already at or passed peak-OB and its growth/survival is best ensured by reclaiming us GGCs!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Nov '18 - 1:04pm

    Aria writes of this with insight, the comments not so much.

    These are not accurate descriptions. I dispute them as have done every survey. On the whole I come out in US ones as on the left. In this one as an Orange booker.

    I am in the centre, but on the economy I am centre left, on crime centre right according to my alignment with people I agree with. I was and am happy with the politics of the David Owen type of stance, but relate to get the government and corporation of our back, stop interfering, stance. I favour solutions that empower individuals. My political favourites are FDR JFK, Harold Macmillan, Hugh Gaitskell, Jo Grimond, John Stuart Mill.

    This party does not do justice to the orange book. Osborne was to the right of Hammond, no orange book content got us where the coalition did, austerity extremes, did, right wing economics ahead of centre ground moderation, Clegg caved in to this, not the book he had little part in.

  • Sue Sutherland 15th Nov '18 - 1:09pm

    I think anything that gives us a different insight into voters’ behaviour is useful, especially when this study looks at values based voting but I was surprised that I belong to the GGC group.
    Please don’t let us use this to divide the party into Orange Bookers versus Social Liberals even more than it has been. I think we all subscribe to the aims expressed in the preamble to the constitution but we differ about the means of getting there.
    I think it’s more important in present circumstances to point out that the Lib Dems enabled the country to deal with the worst depression in history but left to themselves the Tories have made a total mess of the country. The way they’ve implemented Universal Credit has brought many people to their knees through poverty and debt. The Brexit Referendum was their idea but where has it got us? We are now the laughing stock of the world and it’s taken them years to get this far and they haven’t the common sense to say it was a bad idea. Large businesses are planning to move out of the country and small businesses are fighting for survival so we won’t be able to afford the present funding of the NHS let alone enhance it.
    In the light of the disaster facing the country whether you’re an OB or a GGC doesn’t really matter when our party is the only one that can offer the leadership to get us out of this mess.

  • David Walsh 15th Nov '18 - 1:17pm

    Between working in Politically Restricted Jobs for much of my life and forever struggling to understand if I’m LD or Labour from the ‘top 3’ (made significantly harder since 2010 by decisions made by both parties) I’m quite pleased to see that I fall into the ‘Global Green Community’.

    My general outlook is ‘everyone deserves equal chances and opportunities; it doesn’t matter what my neighbour is; we should help each other out where ever possible; and we should leave the world in a better place than when we found it.’

    The question remains though: does this make me a Liberal Democrat? So long as I live in this constituency it actually doesn’t matter as our Conservative MP has a majority so large that even tactical voting by all others wouldn’t unseat them. I genuinely think I’d be better using my time for a pressure group – one that’s trying improve disability access and opportunity, especially as any offer I’ve made to LD groups has been met with no response

    The more important issue is that Government, and especially the cabinet, needs to start pulling it’s ministers and talent from parliament and not just the ‘winning party’ and ensuring there is a cross section of views represented.

    After all, regardless of our personal ideology, we all live together, and dare I say it, our prefered solution won’t work in every circumstance (aka the right tool for the job, not just using a hammer for everything because you prefer hammers).

  • Paul Pettinger 15th Nov '18 - 2:18pm

    Many of us have spent *years* arguing orange book type voters comprise about 8% of the electorate. I am glad that more and more of us now agree with this. But this fact is a major reason why we shouldn’t be an orange book type party if we want to be more than a marginal force.

    As liberals we should look at the electorate, not in terms of the rather arbitrary groups set by these academics, but in terms of where the liberals are. Culturally liberal voters lean heavily towards the centre left and, as history demonstrates, we can be a moderate centre left party and still draw heavy support from centrist and orange book type liberals. This is where we should position ourselves if we want to sow a coalition of voters together where we are again a party of most liberals rather than some. To help achieve this we must not double down on our current limited pool of potential voters (it is a recipe for irrelevance) but address the massive reputational damage achieved during the Clegg era, which is still holding us back from rebuilding. It is worth remembering that we *lost* support to the Cons at the 2015 GE – we lost rather gained orange book types voters during this period.

  • paul barker 15th Nov '18 - 2:33pm

    I am pretty fanatical about Climate Change, I was a member of The Green Party for 14 Years but I still came out as an Orange Booker on the survey. The general idea of looking for Groups based on Values is a good one but I am unsure that The BMG work has drawn the lines in the right places.
    We need to have a really deep look at this, after Xmas.

  • Barry Lofty 15th Nov '18 - 2:51pm

    I do not know what category I would come under but I do know that I have been a Liberal/Liberal Dem supporter for most of my life and have to say that Sue Sutherlands comments are spot on, well said!!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Nov '18 - 3:00pm

    Paul P

    You do not understand, I agree with much you advocate, but came out , as with the very sensible Paul B, as orange book, actually I am both to the left and right of them, on economics and freedom of movement, prisons and immigration, they are libertarians, yu and the left agree with them on three of those, prisons and immigration, and freedom of movement, only economics deivides. I disagree with them somewhat on all four but come out as a definite orange book man in the survey because centre ground moderate but centre left radical and centre right sometimes does not exist in the survey.

    Under any yardstick I am a US Democrat. That is my favourite party and had I relocated with my American born wife, think would have been in Congress.

    In this country the party I like , and am in, has more chance of coming last in every area I have resided. We need to boot out narrow defining. EU fanatisism does nothing for us.

  • Sean Hyland 15th Nov '18 - 3:25pm

    Not really clear on the methodology and research basis behind the results and clan groupings. Can a result be relied upon it we cannot assess its validity? The information on the group’s page about its ” values tool” is a little lacking in details.

  • paul barker 15th Nov '18 - 3:25pm

    I do think that this research has a couple of obvious implications; first it strengthens the argument for a “Core-Vote Strategy.”
    Secondly, it suggests that we should spend little effort trying to change Voters Values, rather, we should work on finding Voters who already share Our Values & showing them what we have in common. Brexit has actually been very useful in that respect.

  • Nom de Plume 15th Nov '18 - 3:32pm

    Not so sure about these clans. From your description, I would describe myself as a mix of OB and GGC. Even taking your data as it is, it would suggest that except for NHS, BTI and PPS (<5%), there is the potential for increased support. Some of these groups may represent a greater proportion of the electorate than OB. In a FPTP system it is neccesary to consider which groups you can try and increase your appeal to, while remaining faithful to your core group. This would have to be considered in the light of existing voting constituencies.

  • David Warren 15th Nov '18 - 4:18pm

    My late father was an Orange Book Liberal before the term was invented.

    I was always a liberal on social issues but for many years followed the socialist line on economic ones.

    These days I just call myself a liberal.

    For the Liberal Democrats the task is to gather all the strands of liberalism under one big tent.

    The coalition hit the party not least because a fair proportion of Lib Dem voters prior to 2010 were protest voters.

    Don’t like Labour or Tories vote Lib Dem. Anyone remember the Labservatives?

    The good news is that the party is on the way back 12 MPs is better than 8 and councillor numbers are up.

    Next years local elections represent a massive opportunity to get even more local councillors.

    2015 was a bad year for the Lib Dems for obvious reasons, four years later things will be very different.

    A while back I wrote an article for this site talking about the possibility of making the 21st century a liberal century.

    That is still possible.

    How it can happens is whole further discussion.

  • For reasons that others have already outlined (e.g. David Evans, David Raw, Peter Watson, Paul Pettinger, Michael 1), I would also seriously question the wisdom of the Lib Dems limiting our political appeal to any single narrowly defined electoral group, such as so-called ‘Orange Book’ (OB) voters. Such a strategy would, I fear, prove massively counter-productive. It would mean continuing to fish for votes in a very small (and potentially dwindling) pool, which in any case probably only contains a minority of those voters who subscribe to broadly liberal values.

    We instead need to focus on discussing how best to [re]build a broader based liberal/progressive coalition – including by reaching out, beyond our traditional Orange Book and/or Social Liberal supporters, to entrench a Lib Dem “core vote” amongst other culturally liberal voters. Such a coalition should also aim to build on the common ground which exists between liberals/progressives amongst the current supporters of all political parties and none.

    Further, amongst the various “clans” identified in this research, we should seek to unite more liberal inclined voters rather than continually divide them along purely left-right economic lines. Those with socially liberal but more interventionist economic views (e.g. ‘Global Green Community’ and ‘Common Sense Solidarity’ voters) do have points of similarity, as well as difference, with socially progressive economic liberals (e.g. the ‘Notting Hill Set’ and ‘Modern Working Life’ groups) … and, of all the U.K. political parties, the Lib Dems are ideologically best placed to provide the liberal “bridge” which could potentially link these otherwise disparate “clans”.

    It also seems from the full findings of this research that this broad coalition of voters – particularly the GGC, OB and CSS groups, predominantly on the (small “l”) liberal-leaning centre left, together with lesser but still significant support from the more economically centre right but still relatively liberal NHS and MWL groups – constituted the bedrock of “Remain” support in the 2016 Referendum. Could this therefore provide a basis for the long-awaited, albeit highly elusive, progressive re-alignment of British politics? …

  • Phil Wainewright 15th Nov '18 - 7:16pm

    Like several other commenters, I discovered I am classed as ‘Global Green Community’. I suspect BMG has underestimated the proportion of this group that are Lib Dems – or that would become LibDems if they realised many of us share their values.

    Nor do I feel the consultancy has done a good job of choosing these labels. Orange Booker is an especially loaded term with unfortunate historical connotations.

  • I’m not sure what happened to my previous comment – I pressed to post, then it disappeared! I haven’t got time to re-submit this in full, but would simply stress a few key points …
    1. These “clan” groupings do seem somewhat arbitrary and potentially overlapping.
    2. Building a Lib Dem core vote strategy primarily around the ‘Orange Book’ clique, as Aria’s article suggests, would be a profound mistake which would greatly limit our potential appeal. (For the record, I’m apparently borderline between GGC and OB!)
    3. We need to reach out, beyond our traditional supporters, to other groups and individual voters who broadly share our politically, culturally and socially liberal/progressive values – whatever their position on the (left/right) interventionist vs market-orientated economic divide.

  • paul barker 15th Nov '18 - 7:41pm

    The fundamental problem for us is the way that Britains Political sytem forces our actual Politics, which is multi-Party; into a two-Party straitjacket. Brexit is putting that system under enormous pressure & its hard not to see that pressure increasing over the next Month.
    The current Crisis is also an opportunity to finally break the mould of British Politics.

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Nov '18 - 9:39pm

    @ Paul Barker,
    I would have thought that the time to break the mould of british politics was when the Liberal Democrat/ Conservative negotiating were taking place, with STV being the red line for the Liberal Democrats prior to considering entering coalition.

  • Peter Watson 15th Nov '18 - 9:40pm

    As an aside, I found the “totem” image associated with the clan at the end of the questionnaire quite entertaining. In the Global Green Community apparently I might identify with Gary Lineker, Caroline Lucas and Jeremy Corbyn on a bike, and I might value charities, music festivals and maybe market towns and rural housing (https://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/IMAGE.jpg).
    I’m guessing this is the Orange Book totem (https://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/IMAGE-3.jpg), with Nick Clegg, David Miliband and Richard Branson, electric cars, cities, graduates and (artisan?) market traders.
    Changing the 3 in that last link to numbers between 2 and 9 throws up some other interesting images which are fun to interpret: Jacob Rees-Mogg and Andrea Leadsome enjoying afternoon tea?; Michael Caine, George W Bush and Craig Charles in a pub?; Tom Jones with Karren Brady? Trying to guess which totem is linked to which clan is a game we can all play! 🙂

  • It’s an interesting experiment, and I strongly suspect many of us could switch categories if we were in a slightly more or less decisive mood, or feeling more grumpy/optimistic with the world that particular day. But as a concept, I appreciate that it is trying to move beyond the limitations of placing everyone on a left-right spectrum, or even one that has an axis for economic values and one for social values.

    While this method no longer relies on one or two axes, that doesn’t mean that there are firm boundaries between each grouping, and that there isn’t substantial overlapping between several groups on any particular issue. It wasn’t clear to me whether each grouping is supposed to have a similarly sized proportion of the population, and if it’s perhaps a mistake to assume that most of our vote comes from the group with the highest percentage. And previous comments about the timing of this polling will also be significant.

    I came out as a GGC, and while I agree broadly with the values it assigns to me, it isn’t a perfect match, and a certainly don’t have strong (or any support) for the Corbyn administration. However, I can see how they might think that based on the questions asked if you believed that Corbyn was pro-EU. They failed to ask whether I value evidence-based policy making rather than dogma, or if I value competence in political leaders. But then I don’t suppose anyone would answer that they have their head stuck in the political sand, so I’m not sure how you tease that out in a brief survey. And I am a big fan (on a personal level) of Caroline Lucas.

    I also wonder if this is a bit like horoscopes. The descriptions of attributes are written to flatter, so most people would identify with several supposedly distinct descriptions.

  • Alex Macfie 16th Nov '18 - 9:02am

    Michael 1: “And there is the old adage that you get more right wing and Conservative (with a small and big C) as you get older.” This is only true up to a point. Clearly it cannot be true that everyone starts adopting the attitudes and values of their elders as they themselves grow older. If this were so, then racism, sexism and homophobia would still be respectable; we’d still have a divine-right monarchy and feudalism; people would still be being executed over their preferred method of worship.
    Social attitudes change. Support for restoration of capital punishment decreases steadily (I think recently there has been a majority against in the UK). Clause 28 was popular when put into legislation, but hardly anyone is going to call for its restoration. Racist attitudes that were once unquestioned are now completely unacceptable.
    So that adage has to be balanced with another one (originally from Mark Twain): “The radical invents the views; when he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them.”

    And based on anecdotal evidence from my contemporaries I’m not even sure that adage is so true anymore. Many of my former classmates said they were Tories at school (in the late 80s/early 90s) but now are definitely not. And the premise on which it based may be less valid. It was said that “If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; if you are not a conservative at 40 you have no head”. But this assumes that conservatism is the philosophy of “head”, yet it often seems to be the conservatives who are ruled by “heart”, in the sense of nostalgia for a national “Greatness” that never really was, and fantasies about this country’s role in the world outside the EU. Young people are more liberal-minded and internationalist because of “head”: it reflects the reality of how they live their lives and how they are likely to get on best in their futures. I don’t think today’s young anti-Brexit youth are going to turn into Empire-nostalgic unicorn-chasing senior citizens.

  • Nick Hollinghurst 16th Nov '18 - 11:54am

    “Orange Booker” name does not imply that the members of this “clan” espouse all or even most of the views expressed in the book of the same name. I was a bit fed up to find myself allocated (on the basis of the very truncated mini-questionnaire) to this clan. But in looking at some of the detail in the “OB” constellation of views I had to admit it was roughly right. Take-Away Message – nobody wins unless that can appeal to a good proportion of at least 3 clans. For us “OBs” obviously but also “Global Green Community” and “Common-Sense Solidarity”. We should take this stuff seriously as another tool to try to make some sense of the complex politics.

  • Fiona: Snap! I also came out GGC but have no truck with Corbyn. His ingrained euro-hostility (not just scepticism), knee-jerk anti-western foreign policy, support for left-wing dicatators and terrorists (which cannot be excused as “seeking dialogue”), equivocation over his party’s anti-semitism row and the intolerant approach to politics fostered by his movement are not compatible with the values of any of the small-l liberal clans in this survey.
    So I am also inclined to agree that much support for Corbyn’s Labour among GGC voters is down to lack of political awareness. Sarah Olney’s anecdote about young voters in Richmond Park constituency emerging from polling stations confused because his name wasn’t on the ballot paper bears this out. The next general election will be interesting if he’s still leader, because unlike in 2017 he will be subject to proper political scrutiny, which is likely to diminish his standing among those small-l liberal voters who flocked to him then. The mask is already slipping, especially over anti-semitism.
    BTW Zac Goldsmith was another phoney small-l liberal: a lot of people voted for him in Richmond Park because they thought that he was a liberal, despite his party label. It’s unlikely anyone thinks the same now. This could be Corbyn’s fate if we play our cards right.
    I agree with Nick (Hollinghurst): those (OB, GGC and CSS) are the 3 groups we Lib Dems need to be targeting for our core vote.

  • Neil Sandison 17th Nov '18 - 12:02pm

    Is t really so easy to put people into boxes or clans ? I have a working class background i support sound economics a passionate supporter of environmentally sustainable development and the circular economy . pro-european but not at any price and believe we should safeguard civil and personal liberties in a democratic framework .Which box do i fit ?

  • Jayne Mansfield 17th Nov '18 - 12:46pm

    @ Alex Macfie,

    Often adages have a kernel of truth gained from experience and observation.

    We now know from a current neuroscientific consensus that the brain is still developing until on average the age of 25. This goes some way to explaining some of the observed experience that led to ‘common sense’ adages.

    This explanation of continued brain development how it changes the way we process information, helps us to understand why we need to support young people ( some in their thirties), who are experiencing ‘adolescent ‘ emotional turmoil for longer than the date when we now deem them to be adults.

    Personally I find our deeper understanding of the plasticity of the brain a cause for optimism, ( particularly post stroke), which is why it is sad when so many politicians throw the biological baby out with the bathwater because it is politically inconvenient .

  • Alex Macfie 17th Nov '18 - 6:32pm

    David Evans: “Bearing in mind that it was the lurch to the right, associated with key members of the Orange Book generation that destroyed so much of what previous generations of liberal had built up,”
    Actually I suspect that it was the approach to politics, rather than ideology or policy, that did for us during the Clegg era. Basically Clegg and many of those around him didn’t know how to play politics, refusing for instance to take advice on how to run a Coalition from others who had done the same in other tiers of government.
    With hindsight, it’s clear that the alarm bells should have rung about Clegg’s naive approach to politics when he ordered the Haltemprice & Howden Lib Dems to stand aside in David Davis’ vanity by-election in 2008. This is surely one of the worst political decisions made by any party leader. The reasoning was that “would not field a candidate in the by-election as the issue of civil liberties transcended party politics and the Liberal Democrats supported Davis’s position on the issue” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haltemprice_and_Howden_by-election,_2008). By this logic, we should have stood aside for Zac Goldsmith in the 2016 Richmond Park by-election. Goldsmith is now damaged goods, and this is partly because the Lib Dems contested the by-election, irrespective of our support for his position on Heathrow, and won it. Davis is not a natural supporter of civil liberties (he is from the authoritarian right), and his real reason for resigning his seat with Lib Dem support was undoubtedly to strengthen his own position as his seat was vulnerable to us at the time. We were complicit in putting him in the position he eventually reached. It was incredibly naive for our leader to unilaterally withdraw our candidate from the by-election without any sort of quid pro quo, and this naivety manifested itself in how he handled coalition.

  • Callum Robertson 18th Nov '18 - 4:41pm

    Brilliant article, we should be unashamedly pursuing a sensible voter base made up of economic, social, political and personal liberals.
    Building this core, durable vote is the only way to ensure that we retake our place as the third party in the House of Commons.

    If we build the core vote who people vote for based on values then it makes them unlikely to desert if we go into coalition with the Conservatives again.

  • What about things like competence, truth and integrity They cross these values systems. We need a more flexible electorate that can sacrifice some of these values and support a more pro-active, collaborative and inclusive way of dealing with our challenges.

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