The Economist endorses the Liberal Democrats

The esteemed publication the Economist has said that its vote goes to the Liberal Democrats.

It is not, to be fair, the most enthusiastic endorsement that this world has ever seen, and its language harks painfully back to the brains and heart stuff that Nick Clegg came out with pre 2015, but we can take this.

No party passes with flying colours. But the closest is the Liberal Democrats. Brexit is the main task of the next government and they want membership of the single market and free movement. (Their second referendum would probably come to nothing, as most voters are reconciled to leaving the EU.) They are more honest than the Tories about the need to raise taxes for public services; and more sensible than Labour, spreading the burden rather than leaning only on high-earners. Unlike Labour they would reverse the Tories’ most regressive welfare cuts. They are on the right side of other issues: for devolution of power from London, reform of the voting system and the House of Lords, and regulation of markets for drugs and sex.

It is well unimpressed by the extremist politics of Labour and Tories, though:

Jeremy Corbyn has taken Labour to the loony left, proposing the heaviest tax burden since the second world war. The Conservative prime minister, Theresa May, promises a hard exit from the EU. The Liberal Democrats would go for a soft version, or even reverse it.

The party leaders could hardly differ more in their style and beliefs. And yet a thread links the two possible winners of this election. Though they sit on different points of the left-right spectrum, the Tory and Labour leaders are united in their desire to pull up Britain’s drawbridge to the world. Both Mrs May and Mr Corbyn would each in their own way step back from the ideas that have made Britain prosper—its free markets, open borders and internationalism. They would junk a political settlement that has lasted for nearly 40 years and influenced a generation of Western governments (see article). Whether left or right prevails, the loser will be liberalism.

And they have this to say about Corbyn’s record on human rights;

An avowed human-rights campaigner, he has embraced left-wing tyrants such as Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro (a “champion of social justice”), who locked up opponents and muzzled the press. Mr Corbyn has spent a career claiming to stand for the oppressed while backing oppressors.

They are pretty withering about Theresa May:

She wanted the election campaign to establish her as a “strong and stable” prime minister. It has done the opposite. In January we called her “Theresa Maybe” for her indecisiveness. Now the centrepiece of her manifesto, a plan to make the elderly pay more for social care, was reversed after just four days. Much else is vague: she leaves the door open to tax increases, without setting out a policy. She relies on a closed circle of advisers with an insular outlook and little sense of how the economy works. It does not bode well for the Brexit talks. A campaign meant to cement her authority feels like one in which she has been found out.

It’s fair to say that they are not expecting us to rush to power any time soon and their hope, in fact, is that we become an element of a new centre party after the election:

Labour has been on the brink of breaking up since Mr Corbyn took over. If Mrs May polls badly or messes up Brexit, the Tories may split, too. Many moderate Conservative and Labour MPs could join a new liberal centre party—just as parts of the left and right have recently in France. So consider a vote for the Lib Dems as a down-payment for the future. Our hope is that they become one element of a party of the radical centre, essential for a thriving, prosperous Britain.


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  • For the ‘Economist’ to say Labour are “proposing the heaviest tax burden since the Second World War” is historically absurd and I say that without any wish to endorse the Labour proposals.

    Probably written by a trendy young thing who starts every sentence with the word ‘So’.

  • paul barker 1st Jun '17 - 10:43pm

    Why should we become one component of this proposed New Centre Party. If MPs want to leave Labour or even The Tories & join us we should welcome them with open arms but if they want to set up a New Party why should we help them ? Any breakaway will start with some MPs, some sympathy & maybe some Money. What they wont have is Leading fugures of the same stature as Roy Jenkins or Shirley Williams, organisation or Members. The SDP, with the help of the Liberals & a lot of Media goodwill took 5 Years to build up a Membership of 60,000. We already have 100,000.
    I really dont see the point of going through the whole Alliance/Merger business all over again in the hope of putting together a slightly larger version of what we already have.
    Lets encourage any Centrist Rebels to join us & if they wont, let them sink or swim on their own.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Jun '17 - 12:17am

    The Economist has gone up in my estimations. They are right to criticise Labour on economic and foreign policy and Theresa May on nationalism and other right-wing policies. Corbyn should also be challenged on hypocrisy: he says he is all about solidarity but what does he offer the victims of international terrorism? Useless words about peace and UKIP-ish arguments about not intervening in case it provokes someone in the short-term.

    One problem the centrist movement has though is if it is too pro-EU then it will put a lot of people off. I want to stay in the single market as much as anyone, but there can’t be a hope that brexit is a disaster so we re-enter the EU. There’s not much difference between the Single Market and EU membership anyway, so I don’t see the value is trying to stay in given the referendum result.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun '17 - 1:20am

    David Raw ,

    We have had our strong differences, more blown out of proportion in my view by your seeming to put me , in your mind, to the right of where I am.

    Can I say , as someone well over two decades younger than you , that is the most apposite comment you have ever uttered on here for me, not the tax bit, the “so !”

    I thought I was the only person on this planet who had noticed this terrible corruption of good discussion !

    David, have you become aware for some time that , ” about ” , “on ” “with regard to ” or “relating to ” or “to do with ,” , all are now , “around !”

    “And today we discussed issues “around ” education !”

  • So

  • Tristan Ward 2nd Jun '17 - 8:23am

    The more depressing thing is that both the London Evening Standard and the FT in their general editorial approach come to pretty well the same conclusions in their almost analysis of Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and Europe, and yet endorse a Tory vote , this apparently on the sole ground that the Lib Dem campaign has been ineffective for the FT. The Stabdard has been plain nasty as well as illogical. No prizes for hiding why for the Standard!

    Both papers claim to want a liberal, open, internationalist and business friendly country, and appear to regret the referendum result. It makes one dispair.

  • Come in guys, according to the polls we seem to be stuck in 7% whats going on?

  • Tristan Ward 2nd Jun '17 - 8:24am

    The more depressing thing is that both the London Evening Standard and the FT in their general editorial approach come to pretty well the same conclusions as the Economist in their analysis of Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and Europe, and yet endorse a Tory vote , this apparently on the sole ground that the Lib Dem campaign has been ineffective for the FT. The Standard has been plain nasty as well as illogical. No prizes for guessing why for the Standard!

    Both papers claim to want a liberal, open, internationalist and business friendly country, and appear to regret the referendum result. It makes one dispair.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Jun '17 - 8:48am

    This is why we have to fight hard in our target seats to prove the pundits wrong. I’ve been saying all along that our campaign will be won or lost in those. The commentariat view on our prospects is based almost exclusively on the national picture, and assuming uniform national swing, with little attention paid to what is happening on the ground where we are fighting. So we have to fight where we can win, and prove them wrong.

  • @d howitt – only 7% in the polls – just look at your leader. Tim Farron’s performance on the Andrew Neil Interview was childish and cringeworthy. Talking over questions and giving answets full of waffle and pointless petsonal anecdotes

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Jun '17 - 9:03am

    And Andrew Neil was… what?

  • Roger Billins 2nd Jun '17 - 9:15am

    This campaign has been a disaster, probably the worst I have seen since I joined the Liberal Party in 1974. I only hope that our optimists are right that our target seat strategy will defy the national swing-it didn’t in 2015. After this and the relative success that Corbyn has enjoyed, if anybody thinks that moderate Labour M.P’s are going to join us, then they are deluding themselves. I hope that the Progressive Alliance takes off.

  • Britain going to the IMF again seems very predictable.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Jun '17 - 9:38am

    @Roger Billins: The reason for the 2015 result, our vote fell harder in held and target seats than elsewhere, was our national image was out there and was negative. So our erstwhile voters were actively turning against us. And it was a fall of about 18 percentage points, IIRC. This time we have little further to fall nationally, and we do not have a toxic national image.

  • Paul Murray 2nd Jun '17 - 9:43am

    While I would wish to welcome an endorsement from an establishment publication like The Economist I have to admit to a touch of nerves when seeing the endorsement on the front cover with a cartoon of Farron wedged between Corbyn and May.

    The Economist sometimes puts bullish or bearish predictions about specific countries, markets etc. on its front cover. A couple of years ago, an analysis of a set of about 50 such front-cover predictions showed that taking a one year contrarian position (i.e. doing the opposite of what the cover suggested) produced a positive return in 68% of cases – buying an asset they advised selling yielded an 18% return and shorting an asset they suggested buying yielded a return of 7%.

    I’m afraid that it is something of a tradition for me to respond “Sell! Sell! Sell!” every time The Economist says “Buy! Buy Buy!”

  • If the lib Dems stood where the SNP stand now (the third biggest party in Westminster) then this endorsement could be not for the future but for now. Watching the debates and paxman interview, I felt that 2010 Nick Clegg would have embarrassed the others with his far better and more engaging performance.

    The issue is what happened between 2010 and 2017 that means this is (sadly) closer to a two horse race than it should be. One TV pundit remarked that it was further cuts under May or an unknown under Corbyn.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Jun '17 - 10:40am

    Maybe you could persuade them to unendorse you?

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Jun '17 - 10:48am

    Nick Clegg is a good communicator, but not when under attack. Cleggmania went wrong because he couldn’t effectively field the attacks against him from the right-wing media. He was also poor against Farage — the weedy intellectual schoolboy wandering into the school bully’s lair.

  • Roger Billins 2nd Jun '17 - 11:21am

    @alex macfie I am afraid our image is pretty bad now and things like Tim’s LBC interview this morning don’t help.

  • A Tory victory means the end of the welfare state.
    A Labour victory means a bankrupt welfare state.
    The prosperity of Britain depends on access to the European single market.

  • Bill le Breton 2nd Jun '17 - 2:36pm

    @Paul Murray and how Corbyn may yet be the saviour of the Liberal Democrats, the frustrator of the Economist and the prover of your point:

    Sorry it is ££££ but the first two lines are enough to get the idea

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun '17 - 2:49pm

    Why show links to papers that do not allow articles to be read !!! What do they say , if you subscribe , can you let us in on the news worth knowing ?!

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Jun '17 - 5:11pm

    @Jayne Mansfield: You don’t have to be a Daily Mail reader to be concerned about a prime minister candidate honouring terrorists, supporting South American dictators and taking a knee-jerk anti-western approach to foreign policy. This is not representative of standard “European Social Democratic” values. and some of the his team are Marxists, like Andrew Murray.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Jun ’17 – 5:11pm…Here you go again… Do you agree with the Tory ‘editing’ of Corbyn’s Sky interview to make it seem that he just says “NO” when asked to condemn IRA bombing…What he actually said was…” full quote was: “No, I think what you have to say is all bombing has to be condemned and you have to bring about a peace process. Listen, in the 1980s Britain was looking for a military solution, it clearly was never going to work. Ask anyone in the British army at the time … I condemn all the bombing by the loyalists and the IRA.”

    Still, when your invincible 20+ point lead is fast disappearing why bother even try and be truthful…

  • paul barker 2nd Jun '17 - 10:50pm

    @Lorenzo Cherin, actually you can read it for free but you have to register first & then you can only read a small number of articles per Month.
    For those who cant be bothered the article is about the mess that “Labour Centrists” have got themselves into. They were relying on a crushing labour defeat to bring The Labour Membership to their senses, allowing the Moderates to get “their” Party back. Whatever the Result Labour Members now have enough hope that they can win from The Left.
    What do Moderate Labour MPs do now ?

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Jun '17 - 8:37am

    expats: But it was the IRA that was looking for a military solution. And at the time he was cheering them on. He had nothing whatsoever to do with the peace process. The British government had a lot to do with it.

    And “my” 20+ lead in the polls? What, was there a Lib Dem surge while I wasn’t looking?

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Jun '17 - 8:41am

    @Roger Billins: If you mean the one where he is trolled on the media cabal’s favourite question to Tim, he actually handled it well. He firmly stated that he had answered the question, that his record on LGBTQ rights speaks for itself, and it’s time to move on.

  • Dave Orbison 3rd Jun '17 - 9:46am

    Alex Macfie – the continued focus on the association of Corbyn and the IRA are desperate.

    It is nothing but a smear and, as always, so devoid of facts. So let me give you some facts about the issue:

    Corbyn condemned IRA violence (29 Nov 1994, EDM28), Corbyn met Loyalist leaders (e.g. David Ervine five times in 1994), Ian Paisley praised Corbyn for his character (Belfast Telegraph 10/10/15), The Times apologised for smearing Corbyn on the IRA (The Times 12/2/87), Corbyn phoned the police to warn of PIRA Operative (The Times 12/2/87), Corbyn only met Gerry Adams after he had become an MP in 1983, Corbyn met Adams at Westminster in 1996 months before the permanent ceasefire.

    This is not of course a definitive list. There is nothing wrong with talking to members of Sinn Fein – even the Queen has done it. There is nothing wrong with campaigning for peace and talking to those on both sides of the conflict in an attempt to influence them to lay down their weapons.

    So Alex, can you provide any authoritative evidence where Corbyn was advocating terrorist acts and atrocities? Are you really saying the Corbyn supported the IRA in these attacks? If Corbyn was talking to the IRA what are you saying he was trying to achieve – peace or encouraging them to make more attacks? It is one or the other, so common tell us. If is the latter then he would deserve condemnation. If the former then we owe him, and everyone else who tried at any time during or after The Troubles, a debt of gratitude for have the courage to get involved and try their best regardless of whether their efforts at the time were successful of fruitless.

  • @ Dave Orbison Well done for posting that, Dave. I’m thoroughly fed up with some Lib Dems being little Sir Echo to Tory smears on this. It undermines any sense of decency by this party.

    At the time in question I well remember I was living very near to Willie Whitelaw in Cumbria when he hosted the same individuals Mr Corbyn is accused of associating with. We had to negotiate several groups of armed police and special branch etc., to travel into the town.

    Put a stopper in the bottle, Alex. Try giving people a positive reason to vote Lib Dem instead of regurgitating Tory smear propaganda.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Jun ’17 – 8:37am….And “my” 20+ lead in the polls? What, was there a Lib Dem surge while I wasn’t looking?

    Where did I mention ‘my’?…. If you read my post you’ll see that the ‘your’ I was referring to was Tory editing of Corbyn’s reply…

    Dave Orbison has shown you, with facts/dates what REALLY went on…Why do you always feel the need to parrot a Tory version of what/when/how Corbyn behaved…
    The events of 30+ years ago are of far less importance than how our vote will impact us for the next 30+ years..
    As David Raw says, “Give us a positive reason to attract voters rather than the negative posturing of the Tory party…

  • Dave
    The situation could become fragile once again if the GFA falls apart.

  • Well said, Jayne. I well remember spending the night sitting outside South Africa House when Nelson Mandela was facing a death sentence. I was lucky enough to be sitting next to dear old Eric Lubbock and we chatted through the dark hours.

    The Liberal Party was radical campaigning party in those days. I’m not sure what it is these days with people like MacFie in it.

  • Jeremy Corbyn attended and spoke at official republican commemorations to honour dead IRA terrorists, IRA “prisoners of war” and the active “soldiers of the IRA.
    The official programme for the 1988 event, held one week after the IRA murdered three British servicemen in the Netherlands, states that “force of arms is the only method capable of bringing about a free and united Socialist Ireland”.

    It’s only my opinion, but surely just by attending and supporting events like this he is encouraging the use of violence by the IRA.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Jun '17 - 11:24am

    Jayne Mansfield: Nelson Mandela was wrong about the IRA. I remember Neil Kinnock, being interviewed on this when Labour leader, saying in his long-winded way, something like “as a friend and supporter, I’m afraid I cannot agree with Nelson’s views on the IRA”. Mandela was instrumental in the struggle against Apartheid, and for that he is a hero, but that does not give him a free pass over his views on other issues.
    And actually, never mind who was supporting whom, in terms of the peace process, the IRA was more like the Apartheid regime. In Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein was dragged kicking and screaming to the negotiating table and forced to renounce violence, because it had to recognise that the “armed struggle” was getting nowhere. Likewise, the South African government was forced to negotiate with Nelson Mandela and the ANC because it had recognised that there was no future for the Apartheid regime, and the international pariah status that went with it. The IRA was defeated in a similar way to how the Apartheid regime was defeated.

  • Back to the economy…
    Income tax[B] ‘absolutely’ [/B]will not rise under Tories, says Michael Fallon…

    A few minutes later Theresa May refuses to rule out income tax rise….

    Talk about making it up as they go along…

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Jun '17 - 12:38pm

    David Raw: Once again, Willie Whitelaw was trying to persuade the IRA to renounce violence. Jeremy Corbyn was expressing solidarity with Sinn Fein and advocating the Sinn Fein-IRA position on Northern Ireland. As for the Queen, she met Gerry Adams AFTER the IRA renounced violence. They are completely different things.
    And Corbyn opposed the mainstream peace process, being one of a few dozen MPs who opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Jun '17 - 5:05pm

    David Raw: There is a difference between radical campaigning and infantile left-wing posturing. The Liberals and Liberal Democrats do the former; Corbynistas do the latter.

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