The Greens: the Lib Dem fightback begins

Yesterday’s news that the Greens had overtaken the Liberal Democrats in terms of membership – their 44713, compared to our 44680 – has, from what I’ve seen on my social media, galvanised our activists rather than demoralised them. And so we should be proud of ourselves. For a party in government in the most trying economic circumstances since the 30s to have grown for 6 quarters in a row is nothing short of miraculous. The Labour party couldn’t manage that and they had the most benign economic circumstances in years.

The Green’s figures include Northern Ireland which ours don’t so like for like it’s more neck and neck.  (Update: Adam Ramsay on Twitter assures me that the Greens figures do not include Northern Ireland).  I’ve also seen some people say that it’s not fair because the Scottish Greens and the Green Party of England and Wales are two separate organisations. There’s no point in splitting hairs, though.

The Party has been making a bit of a concerted effort to make sure that the Greens don’t have the stage for themselves. Tim Farron has written an article of the New Statesman in which he emphasises what the Liberal Democrats have done in government to protect the environment:

The Conservatives’ approach to the environment in Europe shows what sort of approach they would take if they are allowed to govern alone. In coalition, Liberal Democrats have fought to make sure that the environment has stayed at the top of the agenda. We’ve doubled the amount of energy generated from offshore wind and stopped the Tories from slashing support for renewable energy. And while senior Conservative politicians voice their doubts about man-made climate change, Energy Secretary Ed Davey has been busy paving the way for a global deal to cut carbon emissions. Without the Lib Dems, there would be nothing to stop the Tories from lurching to the right on the environment. The truth is, the only way to make blue go green is by adding yellow.

Then tonight, Party President Sal Brinton emailed party members tackling the Greens head on. She congratulated them on their membership surge and then outlined what the Liberal Democrats had done with their influence in Government – which of course the Greens don’t have:

You were meant to be getting a slightly different email today. Yesterday we published our latest membership number and with 44,680 members at the end of 2014 we’ve grown for a second year in a row.

That’s a simply stunning achievement for a party in Government, and that’s what I was going to email you about.

Then, as you might have seen last night, the Green Party announced that they now had more members than we do (although their number includes Northern Ireland, which ours doesn’t). There are a few things I wanted to say about that.

Firstly, well done to them. Getting people to join a political party is, as we know, hard work. If they’ve convinced so many new people to do that then I’m pleased for them. We also know that it is a damn sight easier being in opposition than in Government. The Greens haven’t spent the last five years clearing up Labour’s mess and having to make some frankly very difficult choices along the way.

But they also haven’t been able to cut tax for millions of the poorest working people, or give every infant a free hot meal every day, or make equal marriage legal for the first time. In fact, they haven’t been able to do anything at all – and you know what? They won’t be able to in the next parliament either.

As hard as it is for us at times, whenever I visit a school and see a child who is guaranteed a decent lunch for the first time, I have no doubt which team I’d rather be part of. The Greens are very different to us for a variety of reasons. For example, they’re anti-Europe and support the SNP’s plan to break up the United Kingdom, which we campaigned so hard against.

We know only too well that one good week in the media can bring a lot of people to the cause who don’t hang around when things get tough. It’s those who stay that make the difference and for us, that’s you.

We have the General Election in 110 days, where we can show people exactly what the Liberal Democrats are made of. Here are three things we can all do right now:

  1. Ask someone who supports us but isn’t a member to join. Just forward them this link: www.libdems.org.uk/join
  2. Become a Team 2015 Volunteer and help a target seat near you.
  3. Make a donation. Every pound you give goes to our election fund and will be spent on our target seats.

There are going to be a lot of numbers flying around in the next few weeks. There are only two that matter: the number of Liberal Democrat MPs and Councillors that are elected on May 7th, and I know that we can make that story a good one.

Thank you,

Sal

There’s a slightly superior tone about it, but in essence Sal is right. The Greens are big on showmanship. In Scotland, their co-Convener Patrick Harvie made a big deal of voting against the SNP budget in 2009, meaning that it failed its first parliamentary test. He didn’t ultimately get anything out of it, though. When the Greens had real influence in the Scottish Parliament between 2003-7, they showed no interest in working constructively with the then Labour/Liberal Democrat government and just pulled stunts and made lots of noise all the time. It’s all populist stuff that the voters saw through in 2007.

That’s not to say that we should be complacent. It’s worrying that the Greens are picking up so many new, young members. Nick did very well in the Leaders’ Live debate last month, winning over the audience by some margin on every area except education. We have a good message for young people, especially on things like taking benefits from wealthy pensioners to pay for subsidised bus travel for young people and on the 2 million  apprenticeships created since 2010.

The Greens would almost certainly have had their 2000 member surge on Wednesday even if Nick Clegg had said they should be included in the debates. I still think that he should have done, though, because it’s the right thing to do and it reflects the plural politics we have always been for. It would have been an act of generosity not often seen in the febrile pre-election atmosphere.

I will take issue slightly with one thing in Sal’s email – the phrase “support the SNP’s campaign to break up the UK” isn’t quite accurate. There were always tensions and in fact the Greens had a more honest and realistic vision of an independent Scotland. On currency, for example, they wanted Scotland to have its own currency. they decided to join the Yes campaign but had a bit of a flounce early on. 

While the Greens won’t win any of our seats, they have the potential to cause trouble for us. I’ve thought for a long time that we need to have better rebuttal of them. They are essentially a socialist, environmentalist party – in that order – and while they can sound pretty liberal on issues like anti-terror legislation, they are not so much when it comes to economy, planning, and the environment. Life under a Green government would stifle our economy and curtail our freedoms in many ways.

I am not comfortable with us trumpeting “balancing the books” as one of our main campaign messages because it doesn’t depict what we’re about, where our heart is. The simple truth is that we have been in government at a time when there has been no money and we’ve done stuff to give disadvantaged kids better life chances and improve mental health care. Those are the sorts of things that might win back the people who voted for us in 2010. A message which screams “more austerity” but is a bit more nuanced than that is unlikely to have much of an impact with this group.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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182 Comments

  • Well they say the secret of good comedy is timing.

    Is ten weeks before the general election proper just a tad late to “begin” a fight-back?

    And can you be that confident in saying that the Greens will not win any of our seats?
    They certainly won some of our MEP seats last May.

    All political party activists sometimes fall into the old trap of believing their own propaganda.
    It is however dangerous to believe your own propaganda.
    It is better to remain coldly objective and work with the facts rather than reassure yourself with what you would like the facts to be.

  • Samuel Griffiths 16th Jan '15 - 8:07pm

    I’m not sure environmentalism comes into it, to be honest. Voters drawn to the Greens are drawn there because the LibDems took a massive step to the right. Economically, Social Liberal voters are to the left, making the “socialist” Greens appear a very viable alternative. On the other hand, this has been one of the most economically right-wing governments we have seen in a long while which may be a redefining point for the LibDems. I guess the real question is if the party want to make a case for why they are not the right wing group they appear? Or if it is maybe time to look for alternative membership and support from the progressive right?

    Talking to various LibDems, I can’t actually work out if the party wants to be left or right anymore. I imagine many voters are struggling with the same.

  • Stephen Hesketh 16th Jan '15 - 8:38pm

    Samuel Griffiths 16th Jan ’15 – 8:07pm

    “Talking to various LibDems, I can’t actually work out if the party wants to be left or right anymore.”

    Hmmm. Wouldn’t that be an interesting Op-Ed discussion – one for the lifeblood of this forum (sorry, I mean the usual culprits) and a concurrent one for less-frequent posters.

    I personally think whoever the next leader of the party is, they are going to have to work very hard to hold the party together. The eagerness the present leadership showed in supporting Tory economic philosophy and policy has undoubtedly resulted in the significant weakening our party; politically and cohesively.

  • Tony Dawson 16th Jan '15 - 8:45pm

    Well, if we want a Leader who can take on Farage with a chance of beating him. . . .

  • The main reason some of our voters have gone to the Greens is that we are in Government, its the same reason we have lost them to Labour/UKIP & SNP. The voters in General dont like Government & will vote against it when they see no risk involved in doing so. Essentially thats every Election except The General Election. All that goes double for the sort of people attracted to The Greens, they know what they dont like.
    On Membership I would point out that The Greens have been here before, the had a surge in the late 1980s that took them to 20,000 in summer 1990. After that it was all downhill for the next decade & a half, bottoming out at just below 5,000. I dont say that will happen again, they are far more professional now, but extra members dont automatically get you more votes.

  • David Faggiani 16th Jan '15 - 10:32pm

    Hah, I thought Sal Brinton’s email was pretty good, actually. But please, please, please, please stop saying “Labour’s mess”. If I hear it one more time, from a Tory or a Lib Dem I’m going to scream.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 16th Jan '15 - 10:52pm

    It grates on me too, David, but there is a fair whack of truth in it. Labour in government at whatever level seem to have a bit of an uncanny knack of spending too much and too irresponsibly. I do think we over-egg the pudding, though, and that also grates on the people we need to vote for us.

    But if you look at the polls, Labour’s rating on the economy is absolutely terrible. Maybe voters out there feel it more than we do.

  • “Talking to various LibDems, I can’t actually work out if the party wants to be left or right anymore. I imagine many voters are struggling with the same.”

    Well, that has really been an issue for 150 years…

  • Lia – m byrne – Lia -bility. I saw the man in action in his win (VERY narrow) over us in Birmingham Hodge Hill, and I have seen him in various roles since, including, of course, his last great achievement as Chief Secretary to the Treasury : “There is no money”. He is illiberal, incompetent, ill-judged. We should not be using his “no money” slogan. We should not be using “Labour’s mess”. We should be going all out to convince the electorate that that was not the case.That belief among the electorate can only benefit the Tories and the Orange Book tendency. It doesn’t even benefit the Orange Bookers electorally in the long run. I am afraid if that is to be the content of the air war, we should all give up now – we will gain precisely zero votes from it, and we may well lose people teetering on the edge. Frankly, rather no air war at all, and allow the 57 byelections to go on undisturbed at ground level.

  • ATF – Not really. For the last 50 years we have essentially been a party of the left, until the 1997 election, by which time we had started a move to the right.

  • The galvanisation is all very well, but what is the plan for changing people’s minds about what the Party stands for? For that matter, how did we get here? Five years ago the Party seemed to be in competition with Labour for second place, or even a contender for first. Then suddenly even second place seemed out of reach. Then we were struggling to stay in third. Then we were just trying to keep up with UKIP. Then we gave up even clutching at UKIP’s heels and fell behind the SNP. Now we’re crowing about how “galvanised” our supporters are because we’ve fallen behind the Greens. I can only suppose that next we’ll be measuring how we stack up to Plaid Cymru and Sinn Féin.

    Are we supposed to be happy about this? Are we supposed to keep revising our expectations downward? Has our world contracted to this kind of pettiness? What kind of party are the Liberal Democrats anyway?

  • @Tim13: You don’t have to stop in the ’40s to find that the Liberal Democrats, and the Liberals and Whigs before them, had always — with exceptions born of indolence and the satiety of complacent power — been a party of the left, a thorn in the side of the establishment, a challenge to self-satisfied privilege, a force for fundamental change and indeed for revolution.

    More than 300 years ago, when the Green Ribbon Club was founded, the Whigs — very distant ancestors of today’s Lib Dems — were considered by the Court Party in power as a seditious conspiracy, dangerous to the foundations of the Church and the Monarchy.

    In 1832, Earl Grey rocked the political foundations of the United Kingdom by proposing a broadening and regularisation of the franchise, and challenged the Tory-dominated House of Lords, who saw him as a dangerous Jacobin radical.

    In 1909, Lloyd George brought forward the anti-poverty People’s Budget, which the establishment saw as not just a step toward socialism but the spectre itself, and once again the establishment shivered in a cold wind that was blowing away their privileges.

    But what living Lib Dem would be willing to strike such fear into the establishment today? Where is the spirit of the Liberals of ages past?

  • The publicity now being afforded the Green Party is good for voter choice, and it does not hurt the Liberal Democrats to have potential allies in pursuit of electoral reform and environmental outcomes.

    But I am not sure how the Greens can reconcile the break up of the UK with their broader progressive outlook. What they are proposing are changes that will result in even more downward competition on corporate tax and the social contract. Ireland and New Zealand are both instructive cases, where the flavour of government from year to year has become largely irrelevant to the long term trend of low corporate taxes and low wages.

    Add to that the economic co-dependence of a break-away Scotland on the domestic oil industry, and the decision appears quite short sighted. It could really come back to bite the party if they find themselves sharing power with Labour and the SNP.

  • David-1
    “.,,,,a seditious conspiracy, dangerous to the foundations of the Church and the Monarchy.”

    That is the sort of Liberal party that I joined in 1970 and it built gradually over 30 years from 6 MPs to more than 60. We were achieving elected majorities on big city councils all over the country and were a part of the government in Scotland.
    Over the ten years since the Orange Lot invaded our party it has been nothing but decline. The decline started before the coalition. Don’t forget that Clegg and co actually managed to lose seats in 2010. In two weeks in April 2010 Clegg managed to pluck defeat from the jaws of Cleggmania. A reduction in our support from around 30% to 23% in just two weeks !!!
    Voters – especially Liberal Democrat voters – do not believe in Clegg’s ambition to “break up the NHS” or Laws’ wish to help out the mega Health Care Companies and their Lobbyist cronies.
    In the world of UK politics there were already at least two Thatcherite parties, why would our voters want the Liberal Democrats to become a third rate Thatcherite add-on to Cameron’s brigade of Old Etonians ?

  • Jenny Barnes 17th Jan '15 - 8:42am

    Whenever I read someone senior in the LDs talking about “labour’s mess” my heart sinks. It’s tribal and it shows poor knowledge of economics. Not a good look.

  • Denis Mollison 17th Jan '15 - 9:02am

    I’d like to know more about who writes the Lib Dem email circulars like this one “by Sal Brinton”; they all seem to have the same tone, though the authorship is attributed in rotation to leading Lib Dems.

    They generally have a negative tone, attacking others rather than presenting a positive vision. And I’m sorry, Caron, but the negativity seems to have infected you. “Life under a Green government would stifle our economy and curtail our freedoms in many ways.” could have come from yesterday’s “hasn’t our conservative government been wonderful” leading piece in the Daily Telegraph. One of the attractions of the Greens, for me and I would guess most environmentally engaged Lib Dems, is that they question neoliberal economics and the use of GDP as a key indicator of national progress.

  • Richard Easter 17th Jan '15 - 9:48am

    The party is best off appealing to Conservatives who are fearful of EU exit and the draconian anti terrorism measures, and perhaps trying to appeal to proper Libertarians (not the UKIP type, which clearly aren’t libertarian). You may also attract some Blairites if Labour move more left wing.

    There is no point in trying to appeal to left wing voters who overwhelmingly want to see massive amounts of renationalisation, ending of outsourcing, scrapping of TTIP and similar deals, stronger trade unions, protectionism, and in some cases strong immigration controls to stop undercutting of wages . The party will never be able to present an attractive voice to these people. Accept you are now a party of the centre-right.

  • I was not impressed by Sal Brinton on Question time and her letter did nothing to persuade me to rejoin the party.
    I don’t take kindly to
    “We know only too well that one good week in the media can bring a lot of people to the cause who don’t hang around when things get tough. It’s those who stay that make the difference and for us, that’s you.”
    So after 57 years voting Lib (Dem) my desertion is because I “don’t hang around when things get tough” .
    Repeating the stupid slogan “clearing up Labours’s mess” also grates as others have pointed out.
    Once upon a time the party ( instead of bad mouthing other parties ) would have picked up on the good points of the opposition’s (Green’s) ideas and then debated rationally why Lib Dem policies were better.

  • I am sad to say this. The threat of an almost wipe-out in May is real. There is no fight back because the average voter simply do not want to listen to us. There is only one hope that is the leader resigns by or at the Spring conference and a charismatic personality takes over.He is again the most unpopular leader. But who would want this chalice which we all now know is well and truly empty. The problem post election is that the Greens will be able to gain momentum and take over as the party of protest. We will then drift into the wilderness.

  • Jane Ann Liston 17th Jan '15 - 10:33am

    Surely, Mr Tilley, Cleggmania was more mass hysteria than an indication of serious voting intent? If I remember Tim Farron’s words at an event in NE Fife correctly, the number of voters purporting to have voted LibDem in 2010 and been bitterly disappointed with the resulting Coalition, suggested that a third more electors voted for us than actually did! One suspects that too many of the Cleggmaniacs equated ‘liking’ on Facebook with voting!

  • One legitimate line of attack on the Greens is the utterly shambolic way they have lead the Brighton Council. The Guardian article in the link below deserves wide publicity!
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/15/greens-blown-it-in-brighton

  • Helen Tedcastle 17th Jan '15 - 11:19am

    With three parties at Westminster trumpeting right-wing, neo-liberal economic policies, it’s little wonder left/radical voters are deserting for the Greens.

    We have looked like (with one or two exceptions) we are very comfortable in government with the politicians of the Tory party – the party of the comfortable, the rich and the powerful-vested economic interests.

  • I have a close relative she and her husband are constituency Green organisers. Thought you might be interested in her email to me this morning, the constituency is West Country where Lib Dems should be challenging but from their relative silence over the last 2 years they are not. That is sad in itself.

    “Greens: We have overtaken UKIP membership. This area is doing well. I am listing the members locally – one half of our party – and loads have joined since October, one only yesterday. We have enough to start setting up local groups instead of having one meeting for the whole area. Shorter journeys, more green, and more hands on deck.

    The main joiners seem to be young – O(nephew), told me on Monday that “all his friends intend to vote Green” and he is on a mission to make sure they are all registered to vote. We have just started a separate Young Green Group with an enthusiastic 19 year old leading the charge. so yes, it is exciting but also time consuming.

    Sounds a bit like the Lib Dem youth surge of 2010!!!

  • I think the lib dems are living in the past here. The greens are no more of a threat to the lib dems than they are to the Tories.

    The lib dems are now a centre right establishment party responsible for £9,000 tuition fees, benefit cuts, massive tax cuts for those earning over £150,000 per year and the bedroom tax.

    Someone considering one party would not be also considering the other. The greens and the lib dems are polls apart – the lib dems are now the UKs version of the German FDP.

    There was a time when many on the centre left voted lib dem but not now, that horse bolted four years ago, you can’t close the stable door now and expect that to make a difference.

  • chrisjsmart 17th Jan ’15 – 10:18am

    I have only “hung around” for 45 years in the party. I have not left the party yet but any more of this sort of stuff from Baroness Sal and I will be tempted to.

    Whilst Baroness Sal has been “hanging around” in the unelected, unaccountable House of Idlers – the support for our party has been disappearing because they do not want Cameron-Clegg Coalitionism.

  • The Green shift to the Left is much more a matter of strategy than conviction, the “Gap on The Left” as it was called in the mid 1990s. The idea was that with Labour shifting to the Centre under Blair they would leave a gap in the Political spectrum for a Radical Left Party that had none of the old Far Lefts baggage. Its been a sucsessful strategy so far but the splits in Brighton show the potential problems.

  • “give every infant a free hot meal every day,”

    Just making things up now. This doesn’t apply to all infants, nor is there a requirement for it to be a hot meal (see School Meal Standards)

  • Helen Tedcastle 17th Jan '15 - 1:59pm

    I agree with John Tilley.

    This line about those who apparently ‘don’t hang around when things get tough’ is the kind of machismo that sets my teeth on edge.

    We are either a mass membership national party or a pressure group. Which is it Pres. Brinton?

  • Stephen Hesketh 17th Jan '15 - 2:06pm

    paul barker 17th Jan ’15 – 12:41pm

    “The idea was that with Labour shifting to the Centre under Blair they would leave a gap in the Political spectrum for a Radical Left Party”.

    Paul, the problem is that myself and many others thought we had joined and voted for a party of the radical centre-left. We didn’t realise we were about to be taken over a small group pushing the economic policies of the right and their friends manning the bastions of corporate feudalism.

    Our party has historically existed ‘to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity’ – yet in government we have been seen to have forgotten fairness, equality and our fundamental opposition to poverty time after time.

    Still, the richest 1% have done very well out of it.

    As Helen Tedcastle points out: “With three parties at Westminster trumpeting right-wing, neo-liberal economic policies, it’s little wonder left/radical voters are deserting for the Greens.”

    That’s me done – I’m off canvassing for a radical centre-left Lib Dem MP!

  • One good idea was to add 3p of duty to petrol in order to reduce usage and carbon emissions. This went out of the window and now fuel is less expensive (but not cheap) many will drive their cars faster and more frequently thus increasing carbon emissions. Not very green.

  • Nick Collins 17th Jan '15 - 2:32pm

    Is there assumed to be a causal connection between the decision (has such a decision been made? )to exclude the Greens from the tv debates and their recent surge in membership? If so, perhaps Cleggie’s best bet would be ask to be excluded also.

    Actually that would not be such a bad strategy for him. He surely cannot be expecting a repeat of the apparent surge in support which followed his performance in the first debate in 2010.

    i

  • Samuel Griffiths 17th Jan '15 - 2:46pm

    Stephen Hesketh, couldn’t agree with you more. That post represents my thoughts in a nutshell. Unfortunately, I am not canvassing for an MP this parliament, I’m sorry to say I chose to take a step back instead.

    I personally find it fairly offensive to suggest that people who left the party did so because they somehow couldn’t stomach what it took to be in government. This line of arguing suggests that we didn’t have a choice – both as a party, but also as a nation – as to which future we wanted. We chose as a party to pursue the neolib economic platform, where as we could just have easily fought against it and for the values that I thought the party represented, as carefully outlined by Stephen Hesketh above. Let’s never pretend for a second that deliberate choice wasn’t made. I am delighted by the similar opinions I see on message boards such as these, but do confess myself increasingly concerned by how different they seem from the official line of the party.

  • Stephen Bolter 17th Jan '15 - 2:48pm

    The Lib Dem did so badly in the European Elections because, instead of listening to doorstepping activists, the Campaign Committee based our campaign on the recommendation of marketing consultants. The result was a bland campaign which attempted to convert the election into a pre-run of an in – out referendum and focussed almost entirely on the effect of EU membership on immigration and jobs. There was nothing about selecting the best MEPs to improve the efficiency EU and moving it forward to address the issues facing its population.
    If we allow simplistic marketing surveys to dominate our General Election campaign, it will be similarly bland and equally disastrous.
    We need to inject the passion of people like Tim Farron into the debate.
    We must put forward real policies, not simple cash promises, on the NHS, housing and low wages.
    We need be open and committed on issues like TTIP and ISDS.
    But, above all, as a Green Lib Dem, I believe that if we want to reverse the slide from the Lib Dems to the Green Party, we must ensure that we make our environmental achievements and policies known.
    We should be supporting the inclusion of the Green Party leader in the TV leaders’ debates. This will ensure that environmental issues get into the discussion. We will then have the opportunity to focus on our achievements as minor partners in the Coalition, including the progress achieved in energy saving and investment in renewables and other low carbon technologies, despite George Osborne’s support for the fossil fuel industry.
    We will be able to demonstrate that pragmatic Lib Dems are actually greener than the idealistic unrealistic Green Party. Steve Bolter

  • Even if the Greens Party ceased to exist most of those ex-Lib Dem voters would never go back to voting Lib Dem. The Lib Dems are now the UK’s version of the German FDP. A centre right, free market liberal party that although small is very much a part of the establishment and willing to prop up conservative governments when needed.

    This is why most of the seats the Lib Dems are likely to hold are Tory facing seats in wealthy parts of England.

    You would honestly be better off attacking the Tories and trying to take some off their vote.

  • Seth 17th Jan ’15 – 1:36pm

    The similarities between what is happening at the top of our party in 2015 and the last days of Gordon Brown’s premiership in 2010.

    There is an expression about the smell of fish rotting and it starting at the head. The amazing things about the 2010 electon was that Clegg lost votes to Brown in the last two weeks. Laour support went up in the polls whilst Lberal Democrat support plummetted from around 30% to 23%.

    After the initial spike of support following the fluke of the first leadership debate — the more the voters saw of Clegg the less they liked the Liberal Democrats. That downward momentum has continued ever since. The more the voters have seen of Clegg in the last five years — the less they have led the Loberal Democrats.

    I feel sorry for those MPs that have a chance of hanging on, are working really hard in their seats and then they get a phone call saying that Clegg is coming to help them out. What do they do?
    How do they manage such toxicity?
    Try to prevent any media knowing about it at all?
    Take him somewhere else entirely and just pretend to him that he is in your constituency?
    That might be the best option — one place looks much the same as another from the back of the ministerial limousine. He will never know if his driver just keeps taking him to Thanet and that way nobody will be damaged by his impact on the voters.
    Someone get this suggestion up to Paddy in the Wheelhouse — it could save us half a dozen seats.

  • Nick Collins 17th Jan '15 - 5:24pm

    I agree with Messrs. Hesketh, Griffiths and Tilley. I “hung around” (actually that’s not quite correct: I spent a hell of a lot of time, money and energy campaigning first for the Liberal Party and then for the Liberal Democrats. I now regret that as time , money and energy which could have been so much better spent). I left the LibDems four years ago. The sort of garbage in the quote from S Brinton at the head of this thread helps to confirm that my decision to do so was the right one and that it will not be reversed.

  • chrisjsmart 17th Jan '15 - 5:45pm

    I regret that nothing is going to change the direction of the current leadership in time to save the party before the election. Poor management tend to surround themselves with like minded or yes men; where reality is replaced by wishful thinking; where new ideas and demand for change only originate from trouble makers and the ignorant.
    Given the failure of the leadership to take responsibility for the decline of the party over the last 5 years, why would they feel the need to resign after the election. The cause of the fiasco will be put down to those pesky voters and the activists who lacked work ethic. To regain the trust and respect of voters will need a revolution and time to prove it’s not just window dressing.

  • @Jane Ann Liston ‘Tim Farron’s words at an event in NE Fife correctly, the number of voters purporting to have voted LibDem in 2010 and been bitterly disappointed with the resulting Coalition, suggested that a third more electors voted for us than actually did’
    This has been thrown at a lot of us who DID vote LibDem in 2010. Calling us liars was not a good idea. I am voting Green this time. Had a Labour Party canvasser today, totally useless. Did not even know Labour introduced ATOS and then told me his daughter worked for them. I have been laughing ever since.

  • Stephen Hesketh 17th Jan '15 - 7:15pm

    George Miles 17th Jan ’15 – 12:26pm
    “As a member of greenlibdems.org.uk I support most of the Green Party’s environmental policies, but not many of their looney economic policies.”

    George, this is a genuine and serious question from one green Liberal to another – do you have examples of their looney economic policies?

  • Stephen Hesketh 17th Jan '15 - 8:32pm

    Talk about the power of search engines etc – the following has just (genuinely!) appeared out of the blue as an advert on my PC!!!

    http://www.hallamscaffold.co.uk/

    “Welcome to Hallam Scaffold – Our goal is to provide our customers with an outstanding quality of work delivered safely on time and at a competitive price.”

    I knew the students were feeling let down but even I’m surprised at this level of anger 🙂

  • Any belief, as I once did, that the libdems offer sensible ‘environmental’ policy has been completely flattened – not by coalition policy – but by the strange and highly disturbing actions of certain libdem policiticians on a local level. The Watford mayor’s belligerent stand against 2 successful legal actions against her decision to sell off allotments (without question the most ‘green’ all round urban space we have in the UK). My membership won’t be renewed until the libdems start to act as they preach.

  • Stephen Hesketh 17th Jan '15 - 9:13pm

    Many sincere Lib Dems are withholding their membership until we cut the rope ‘anchoring us to the centre’.

    My fear is that without such ex-members, we might yet see the centre-right somehow remaining in control of our centre-left party. Having invested all their own credibility in the New-Lib Dems project, they are unlikely to give up without a fight.

    How long do new or returning members have to be in the party before they can vote in the next leadership election?

  • Jayne Mansfield 17th Jan '15 - 9:41pm

    @ Caron Lindsey,
    Do you really think that the Conservatives would have introduced more regulation if they had been in office prior to the economic crash.

    Also, perhaps you have forgotten that prior to the economic crash, George Osborne and David Cameron were promising to match Labour’s spending ‘pound for pound’.

    Even a journalist in the Spectator had to choke on his word by saying that this Government had increased debt more in four years than the Labour government had in thirteen . I’m sick of this ‘clearing up labours mess’ nonsense, too.

  • Eddie Sammon 17th Jan '15 - 9:54pm

    The Green Party only appeals to the middle class and not even most of it. Lib Dems shouldn’t let them get away with claims that they can help the poor when they want to ramp up the cost of energy.

    I like green policies, but the ones I like are simple ones: protect the green belt; invest in renewables. Not: “Let’s introduce a Carbon floor price and ramp it up until the poor’s pips squeak.”.

    Regards (PS, I know, some of the green belt needs to be built on!).

  • William Hobhouse 17th Jan ’15 – 6:59pm
    “….. People don’t vote for the compromise, they vote for the ideal and then assume that the actuality will be some sort of compromise.”

    Yes indeed, William Hobhouse. You have hit the nail on the head.

    Neither of our Liberal Democrat Secretaries of State got elected by saying —
    ” we will compromise so much on energy policy that the fossil fuel lobby will laugh all the way to the bank”

    Nor did they get elected saying —
    ” We will NOT JUST COMPROMISE on new nuclear but we will turn through 180 degrees and do the exact opposite of what we have said for decades.
    We will trail round the world, cap in hand, looking for any old state nuclear corporation that is prepared to accept huge subsidies to build a new nuclear dinosaur; in fact we will do this in October 2013 a couple of weeks after promising the Liberal Democrat Conference that there wll be NO SUBSIDIES !!!”.
    We will do this whilst spending more than £100 Billion of tax-payers’ money further subsidising the privatised nuclear companies to decommission their poisonous sites because we know that nuclear power generation is classic example of the economics of the criminally insane.”

    Strangely only one of those Secretaries of State has ended up in prison and that was for telling lies about driving too fast in his car.
    .

  • Martin Corney 17th Jan '15 - 11:19pm

    I used to be chair of a student Liberal party decades ago. Now I’m proud and excited that the Green Party I belong to is growing so rapidly. 10,000 new members in the last week. Once Green Party policies get known, they are irresistible.

  • Simon Shaw

    My daughter is an infant and doesn’t receive a hot meal every day. Surely it is you who should be checking facts regardless of what that document says. Just because it says it doesn’t mean its true.

  • “Once Green Party policies get known, they are irresistible.”

    So ending factory farming and switching immediately to renewables, driving up the cost of food and energy for the poorest in society and making life worse for them, are “irresistible” policies?

    Not to mention the position of total denial the Greens have adopted in relation to the deficit?

    Green policies are impractical, counterproductive and in many cases, downright barmy.

    Joining the Greens is for people who have given up on reality and want something impossible. Sadly, all to many of our 2010 voters seem to believe they could actually have more than one MP in May.

    They won’t, and they could end up costing the Lib Dems MPs, often in seats where they are facing the Tories. That’ll be a great result, won’t it?

  • @Elliott Corner

    “Maybe we will not win your seats this time, but we are very evenly matched in the polls, and are polling above the LDs more and more often”

    You won’t win in any of our seats any of the time, because your policies are too extreme to appeal to more than a tiny section of the electorate. And when put to the test, as in the running of Brighton council, your party has failed miserably.

    Your appeal is based on a refusal to engage with reality, in that government spending is limited. Sadly there are plenty of people who want to believe we can carry running up a deficit regardless.

    The Green vote under first past the post only serves to split the non-Tory vote further and will let more Tories in. It will achieve the opposite of what you intend.

  • Denis Mollison 18th Jan '15 - 9:45am

    RC – When you say that the Greens’ economic policies are downright barmy, do you mean that they don’t buy the current establishment consensus on the importance of “getting down the deficit”?
    I am increasingly persuaded that this mantra is nonsense: “In the absence of a foreign surplus, public sector deficits are actually required if there are to be private sector surpluses; they are simple accounting identities (Wray, 1998; Wray, 2012). “

  • I have just watched Andrew Marr interview first Natalie Bennett Green leader and then Nick Clegg our leader.

    The leader of the Greens spoke human. Clegg spoke Westminster Bubble.

    I agreed with all but one policy mentioned by Natalie B.

    I disagreed with quite of what Nick C said — in those cases where I could translate what he said. Someone needs to tell him that gabbling quickly is not an aid to understanding.

    I remember from the two interviews that –
    1 the Greens are against Trident and do not want to be in a Coalition but would work in a Confidence and Supply arrangement.
    2. Clegg uses words like “the sensible centre-ground approach” but refuses to answer questions about taxation. He uses words like “our approach is very much a banded approach” which means nothing. He says “I regret massively” etc when asked about tuition fees. “I wish we had called it a graduate tax”.
    3. Marr asked “Would you be embarrassed by losing half your MPs and still being the kingmaker and deciding who should be the Prme Minister?”. Clegg’s long ramble will not have persuaded anyone either way.
    4. Marr — “You clearly get on very well on a personal level with David Cameron… but what is your relationship with Ed Miliband ?”
    5. Marr — “What are you going to do after the election?”. Clegg “I feel I have done what I needed to do.”
    6. At the end, Natalie asks Nick “Will you write to the broadcasters and ask them to invite Greens onto the TV debates?”. Nick says – “It is not up to me.”.
    He looked very bad, very insincere and he looked as though he did not want the Green leader in the TV debates.

    In light of today’s TV appearance one might understand why he is scared stiff of being out-debated by Natalie.

    She came across as an articulate leader making the case for Liberal ideas.
    He came across as a pillar of The Establishment.

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Jan '15 - 10:05am

    Denis Mollison 18th Jan ’15 – 9:45am

    Denis – I am thinking in that direction also

    It also inspired my question [17th Jan ’15 – 7:15pm] to George Miles’ post “As a member of greenlibdems.org.uk I support most of the Green Party’s environmental policies, but not many of their looney economic policies.”

    My standing question is “George, this is a genuine and serious question from one green Liberal to another – do you have examples of their looney economic policies?”

    I am happy for any fellow Lib Dems to respond on this.

  • @ Denis Mollison

    Sorry, but the ideas you mention are heading down the slippery slope of detachment from economic reality.

    “In the absence of a foreign surplus, public sector deficits are actually required if there are to be private sector surpluses; they are simple accounting identities”

    This is exactly the case. What you have cited is a mere accounting identity and says nothing whatsoever about the desirability of continued disequilibrium and deficit.

    Running a deficit and contributing to the UK debt pile ad infinitum is a wholly unsustainable and undesirable situation. It means the government is forced to spend more and more of its budget on interest payments instead of on valuable public services. It also means building up debts now that will have to be paid for by generations to come.

    This is an utterly dishonest stance on the part of the Greens and one of which they should be ashamed. It is deficit denialism at its very worst.

  • RC

    Can you explain if you agreed with the Liberal Democrat manifestos for the General Elections 1997, 2001, 2005 ?

    Or did you see those economic policies as ” heading down the slippery slope of detachment from economic reality.” ??

  • Yes, ending factory farming is precisely one of those. It will lead to higher prices of food for the less well off, putting pressure on their living standards.

    Plus, an excessively rapid move towards renewable energy when neither our infrastructure is ready nor do we have arrangements in place to ensure reliability of supply will mean loss of jobs in industry and higher consumer energy prices, again hitting the less well off.

    Their denial of the need for the government to bring down borrowing is also in defiance of the facts: that it will lead to higher interest payments in future and less money to spend on valuable public services in the long run. It also makes our country more vulnerable to future economic shocks and crises. As we learnt the hard way from Labour’s mistakes, it is one thing going into a downturn with a surplus or a balanced budget; yet quite another when you are already running a deficit of 3%+ of GDP. The Greens are pretending there’s a magic money tree when there clearly isn’t.

    Furthermore, since the Greens don’t have the prospect of more than about 3 MPs at the next election, the only influence they could in reality hope to have on policy is virtually nil. If the Lib Dems struggled with 57 MPs, what hope would the Greens ever have of getting *any* of their policies implemented?

  • @ John Tilley

    When did we ever say it was desirable to run a deficit ad infinitum? For example, we previously proposed adding a penny on income tax to pay for education, which is a much more honest stance than pretending borrowing doesn’t matter.

    Plus, in the past, we have made sure our manifestos are fully costed. I doubt the Greens would ever submit themselves to such scrutiny.

  • I have to say that both Denis Mollison and Stephen Hesketh worry me in the extreme. They are falling for an idea (that we can just carry on borrowing and it will all be OK) simply because they want it to be true and because reality is just too inconvenient and undesirable to swallow. How many of our supporters are going to follow them and then wake up on May 8 with (a) One or maybe two Green MPs; (b) a pitifully small number of Lib Dem MPs too?

  • RC 18th Jan ’15 – 10:27am

    RC thank you for your rapid response. I am not actually sure that you are correct in your accusation that the Green policies are not costed. Are you sure?

    BTW – I only asked the question about previous Lib Dem manifestos because I remember Blair’s lot of accusing us of the sort of thing you are now accusing the Greens. All members of political parties fall into the trap of believing their own propaganda about the policies of their opponents. I have certainly fallen into that trap myself in the past. I am now trying to be objective about the policies of other parties and those of my own party’s leadership. Not always easy.

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Jan '15 - 11:05am

    Caracatus
    ‘Does anyone seriously believe that the problem with tuition fees was not calling it a graduate tax ?’

    Yes, I think the title did matter. I was amazed that after all the heartache that Clegg admitted this. A bit late.

    I remember Vince argued for the policy to be called a graduate tax but it was not accepted. Presumably Clegg vetoed it at the time.

    What a massive and costly error of judgement.

  • stuart moran 18th Jan '15 - 11:15am

    do you really think you are going to get back voters with that poor excuse as a leader?

    Can anyone explain to me what he has actually done to demonstrate ‘leadership’?

    He had a once in a generation opportunity to be involved in a coalition (and this was due to failings on the part of other parties and the success of previous leaders in building up the number of seats rather than anything he had done). He messed up how to manage a coalition and has thus lost a huge amount of the support you had.

    He looked completely broken and I felt he came across terribly…..shame as I always thought the LD were the future for UK politics; looks like that possibility is gone for quite a few years now

  • Sal’s e-mail was woeful – and if she put her name to that, then I am glad I did not put her anywhere near our presidency.

    It was non-comprehending, condescending, haughty and that mug sense of superiority that just feels truly unpleasant: yet, at the same time, it also seemed completely desperate and more than a little pitiful.

    As if someone in the HQ finally realised that we as a party may have some problems if the Greens are now beating us, but instead of setting out a vision for our future, we have just resorted to the same blame everyone else tactics that we used to stand against.

  • RC and John Tilley
    Regarding costing of policies / aspirations. Clegg actually used one of his highly irritating arm gestures to indicate that our policies are not yet fully costed. He dismissed income tax and VAT rises as sources of additional income, but didn’t know what other taxes will be used (aside from extra from higher Council Tax bands). He inaccurately described CT as “a property tax” when it is actually is a mixture of a property and a “number of people” based tax. He had nothing to say about either Land Value Tax or Local Income Tax, both of which are well-established in the traditions of our party, and as we spent years arguing, are considerably fairer than even a rebanded Council Tax. Nothing about revaluation, by the way.

  • Neil Sandison 18th Jan '15 - 12:56pm

    As a good environmentalist and Liberal Democrat my disappointment with the Greens is there lack of staying power to see issues through and work with others for deliverable solutions. They are typical armchair activists who would rather keep an uneconomic pubs open than challenging my county council thats incinerating recyclable and recoverable waste by the dictat of direction .
    Not campaigning to protect ancient woodland and veteran woods by getting involved in the local plan process but rather following labours lead to weaponise the NHS rather than look at local solutions to sustain good local health care .Thinking every solution to a problem comes out of the public coffers but not recognising partrnership working brings quicker results.Lets be prepared to take on the greens on the real environmental agenda.

  • Nick Collins 18th Jan '15 - 1:04pm

    I have not yet decided how I shall vote in May. Every comment I read from RC increases the probability that it will be Green.

  • Stephen Campbell 18th Jan '15 - 1:26pm

    @Nick Collins: ” Every comment I read from RC increases the probability that it will be Green.”

    Same here. I am tired of Lib Dems like RC who seem to sneer at anyone who doesn’t slavishly follow the Lib Dems (and this from a party which used to claim it isn’t tribal!). He/she has, in the past, insulted the electorate by essentially claiming they aren’t intelligent enough to understand coalition or why Lib Dem policies have moved so far to the right. With RC, the blame for the situation Lib Dems now find themselves in always lies with someone else, be it the media, Labour, or the electorate itself. Insulting the electorate is never a good idea, but I’ve seen plenty of it on this site.

    The fact is that the Lib Dems have nothing to offer people that we can’t get by voting for other parties. We already have four Thatcherite parties fully signed up to the Neoliberal, globalisation agenda which is pushing us into corporate feudalism. People want a bold, radical alternative and the Lib Dems are now nothing more than a bland Establishment party with no new ideas, no bravery and offering nothing but the same old failed Thatcherism we’ve had shoved down our throats for 30 years.

    Sneer and deride people all you want, RC, but your party is yesterday’s news, the punchline of many jokes and, well, a bit pointless. Lib Dems used to give people hope, now you’re just a party for slightly nicer Tories.

  • Denis Mollison 18th Jan '15 - 1:31pm

    Dear RC

    Could you please stop insulting people – “They are falling for an idea (that we can just carry on borrowing and it will all be OK) simply because they want it to be true and because reality is just too inconvenient and undesirable to swallow.” – and consider whether there may be legitimate alternatives for your economic viewpoint?

    I’m a scientist, not an economist, but my recent reading (an example is here) is increasingly convincing me that the neoliberal economics that has taken over our main political parties, and widened inequality in our society over the past 30 years, is the economic equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes.

    And why did you assume I support the Green Party? I’m a longstanding member of the (Scottish) Green Liberal Democrats.

  • We don’t actually “know” RC is a Lib Dem, and from the tone of his posts he really doesn’t want anyone to vote for the party. Could just as easily be a Kipper creating noise…

    >ending factory farming and switching immediately to renewables…are “irresistible” policies?

    Wow, are they promising that? Sounds good! My family is vegetarian and we’re all keen on renewable energy, so this sounds pretty irresistable to me. I’m starting to veer towards the Greens having read the discussion here, really didn’t like Sal’s tone and it’s a continuation of the ostrich behaviour that typifies the party in recent years. It’s a protest vote, I could never support them long-term because they’ve got very little workable policy, but until Lib Dems take a proper look in the mirror my vote will need a new home.

  • Jayne Mansfield 18th Jan '15 - 1:54pm

    @ ChrisB,
    My thoughts exactly.

    There are certain posters on here who do not sound like any Lib Dem supporter that I have ever met.

  • Neil Sandison 18th Jan '15 - 2:07pm

    Nick ,Steven and Dennis on RC .
    Agree unconstructive comments are not helpful but without challenge a misleading agenda can appear superfically attractive but not deliverable.Some members of the green party appear to want to pull the drawbridge up as much as UKIP does .Globalisation will continue until we can offer sustainable development in the British economy thats why the green investment bank is so vital in terms of promoting home grown jobs rather than chinese imports flooding our markets with cheap goods but with a massive carbon footprint..ensuring we have both food and energy security is as important as trying to build our way out of the recession.There is still much to do regarding developing a viable infrastructure not just for road and rail but water and decentralised energy production .Better to stay in and fight your corner than abandon hope and not opt for the politics of dispair.

  • Green policy AR414 would ban ALL research using animals. That’s the end of UK Life Science and medical research right there.
    Green Policy AR428 would ban xenotransplants. Tell that to the tens of thousands alive today because of the pig heart valve replacements that saved them.

  • Tim13

    Yes I agree. Clegg displayed many weaknesses but his principle failure was on tax.
    Saying that Danny Alexander would explain it all in a few weeks was dreadful.

    This man Clegg is the Deputy Prime Minister, has been the leader of our party for longer than most of us care to remember, but he cannot speak with confidence or credibility on taxation.

    Did he forget? Or did all those special advisors fail to tell him that a question on taxation was a dead cert?

  • Denis Mollison 18th Jan '15 - 2:58pm

    Colin –

    I agree with most of what you say, but as regards the personal allowance, the obvious balancing act would be, not another perverse threshold where one suddenly loses the allowance (whether £120,000 or not), but to increase the basic rate of income tax. For example, increasing the threshold from 10 K to 12.5 K could be balanced (i.e. equal total tax take) by increasing the basic rate to 24 %; this would make everyone on less than 25 K better off, everyone over it worse.

    As to the Lord Sugars of this world, as long as they pay their taxes I’m in favour of their having universal benefits such as bus passes. It’s the “we’re all in it together” aspect that for me are part of the appeal of universal benefits.

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Jan '15 - 3:03pm

    RC 18th Jan ’15 – 10:32am
    “I have to say that both Denis Mollison and Stephen Hesketh worry me in the extreme. They are falling for an idea (that we can just carry on borrowing and it will all be OK) simply because they want it to be true and because reality is just too inconvenient and undesirable to swallow. ”

    OK, I should have been more specific. My total agreement with Denis revolves around his phrase “do you mean that they don’t buy the current establishment consensus”. No Liberal Democrat worthy of the name should be buying into the current establishment (economic) consensus!

    I guess many of us here will be paying some tax at the 40% rate, probably one or two at 45%. But it is quite criminal that £150,000 is the upper band.

    Many in this country are (allegedly) ‘earning’ massively more than this and pay the same 45%. Only in the past few days we heard “Bankers at Goldman Sachs were paid an average of $373,265 (£245,500) in 2014 after profits at the highest profile firm on Wall Street rose 5%.

    Some $12.7bn (£8.35bn) was set aside to pay its 34,000 staff, who will learn the size of their individual payouts in the coming days. Some of them will receive far more than the average; data for 2013 showed that the most senior executives in London received an average of £3m.” Source: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/16/goldman-sachs-bankers-paid-average-245000-2014

    These and similar remunerated people paying just 45% on such sums is something all Liberal Democrats should be feeling very ‘RC’ about.

    I am angry at the injustice of low and middle income households bearing the brunt of bailing out the lifestyles of these and similar highly paid gamblers. This is just part of the “current establishment consensus” that I will not accept nor bow down to. If ultimately that means I must find another party more willing challenge this consensus then so be it.

  • Simon – Nick doesn’t have that view – see
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-30514778

    And the School Meal Standards are clear that a hot meal whilst expected, isn’t obligated.

    There is a good story to tell here – over-egging it undermines that.

  • Jayne Mansfield 18th Jan '15 - 4:05pm

    @ ColinW,
    I disagree with both those policies, but they in themselves would not stop me voting Green.

    As the party grows and attracts more social liberals, and left of centre liberals who are concerned about the environment, there will inevitably be argument and change in some policies. Like most people, I am casting around for a party with policies that are the closest fit to my values.

  • Yes I *am* a member and have been for years. I have just got back from delivering leaflets today. As for saying I don’t sound like a member, what is that supposed to mean?

    What is it that those posting here find so distressing about my comments? I am forthright about my views, yes, but I do not insult those who disagree with me personally. It is their ideas I lay into, not them.

    If questioning your ideas on what I believe to be good grounds – because yes, I have a degree in economics, continue to follow the subject professionally and presume to know something about it – makes you less likely to vote Lib Dem, what is it that you are waiting to hear from the Lib Dems precisely?

    Let me state it again. The central premise of the Greens, that we can borrow ad infinitum without any consequences, is utter hogwash. It simply is not true.

    Should we be taxing the rich more? The answer is yes, the problem *in the real world* is that there is a maximum rate at which you can tax the rich before they move off to other countries, so diminishing the total amount of tax money brought in. When Labour introduced the 50p tax rate as a token gesture in their last month of power, the actual amount of tax paid fell. 45p may seem like too little, but there is very little certainty that raising it much more would generate more revenue. The fact is that historically we in the UK have struggled to push the total amount of tax paid above about 37-38% of GDP.

    These are the facts, in the real world.

    @ Chris B

    “Wow, are they promising that? Sounds good! ”

    There you go. Do you realise what ending factory farming and switching immediately to solely renewable energy *really* means? It means higher food and energy prices for everyone, hitting the poorest most because they spend the greatest proportion of their income on those things. Is that really what you want?

    The Greens are not living in the real world, yet when I point that out, suddenly it makes me into a nasty person who couldn’t possibly be a party member.

  • @ Denis Mollison

    “I’m a scientist, not an economist, but my recent reading (an example is here) is increasingly convincing me that the neoliberal economics that has taken over our main political parties, and widened inequality in our society over the past 30 years, is the economic equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes.”

    I am an economist by training and I agree with you, you know. But the point is, how do we start to redress the imbalances and make society more equal? The Lib Dems increases in Capital Gains Tax and Stamp Duty are a start, because they are a move to tax capital rather than income, as is the Mansion Tax or rebanding of Council Tax. We need to do more, and if we had more than one eleventh of MPs in the House of Commons we would have done just that?

    However, the idea that we have to stop borrowing money to pay for current spending does not make you a neo-liberal in any way whatsoever. What makes you a neo-liberal is saying that a small state is a good thing in and of itself, which is demonstrably not true. Anyone who wants a really small state can go and live in Somalia and see how good life is there compared with say, Denmark. Virtually no-one in the party (apart from Jeremy Browne, perhaps) believes our aims include this and I certainly do not.

    There is a good reason for there being an “establishment consensus” that the deficit has to be brought down: that being that there is no practical example of a country that has successfully avoided this fundamental truth. Even John Maynard Keynes, who challenged the idea that capitalism is a self-righting system with his concept of underemployment equilibrium, would not have said the government could have borrowed infinitely. It should spend money in a downturn, but the flipside of that is that it has to cut back when the economy is growing. And right now the economy is growing.

  • John Broggio 18th Jan '15 - 6:27pm

    For those without a memory longer than 6 months, when the coalition turned off the taps in their infinite economic wisdom, they turned a fragile growing economy into a stagnating one. I wish it were the case that the economy was now growing so strongly that everyone in the land could feel it for themselves but it isn’t (yet).

    For someone who claims to be an economist, your grasp of economic history (particularly the number of years the UK has run a surplus & the number of times the UK has defaulted) leaves a lot to be desired.

  • David Allen 18th Jan '15 - 6:34pm

    The Fightback Begins. DON’T PANIC! They’re beating us. DON’T TELL ANYONE!

    The Greens haven’t been able to impose the bedroom tax for millions of the poorest working people, or give every infant a free hot meal every day, or give every pensioner a subsidised bond, or give away all these electoral bribes while solemnly waffling about cutting the government deficit. In fact, they haven’t been able to do anything at all – and you know what? They won’t be able to in the next parliament either. And you know why? We can rely on Good Old First Past The Post to see them off.

    Greenies, we want all your votes back! You’ve taken them away from us, UNFAIR! How are we going to get them back? Well, silly Farron keeps waffling about the Lib Dems being rather green too, but that’s never going to resonate with Lynton Crosby, is it? Why, smear tactics, that’s the way to attract back young idealistic people who think they might vote Green!

    How about “Greens – Crazy Animal-Loving Tree-Hugging Radicals with Beards and Sandals”? That’s the right slogan. It will completely differentiate the Greens from the modern Clegg Lib Dems, won’t it!

  • Nick Collins 18th Jan '15 - 6:45pm

    @ Stephen Campbell

    “(The Liberal Democrat) party is yesterday’s news, the punchline of many jokes and, well, a bit pointless. Lib Dems used to give people hope, now (they’re) just a party for slightly nicer Tories.”

    Agreed, but I’m not so sure about “slightly nicer”.

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Jan '15 - 8:04pm

    RC 18th Jan ’15 – 4:11pm
    ” I have a degree in economics, continue to follow the subject professionally and presume to know something about it”

    OK, I am qualified to a similar level in chemistry and observe that economics is far from being a science!

    One of the basic demonstrably true tenets of science is that if you run the same experiment time after time you get the same result – time after time. Free market economists have been running the experiment time after time since at least 1979. And since that time, a disproportionate percentage of the nations resultant economic output has increasingly ended up in the pockets of the very richest in society.

    The UK and London in particular are the most attractive place in the world for the super rich to live and invest. This is the direct result of national and local investment and taxation policy. The same policy is pricing ordinary London residents out of successive communities and at the same time sucking investment and skilled people in from other areas of the UK. It is simply a unsustainable approach to running a country.

    My belief as a Liberal and a Democrat is that the cake being divided equitably is a prerequisite of an economically sustainable and socially coherent society. That is why a fair society must always trump any other part of a national agenda or cheap party slogan.

  • Peter Watson 18th Jan '15 - 8:24pm

    Stepping back from the debate on this page, surely it is depressing that the Lib Dems are even having to trumpet a fightback against the Greens or quibble over whether they are the 4th or 5th largest political party in the UK.

  • Denis Mollison 18th Jan '15 - 10:28pm

    Well said!

    I particularly think there ought to be scope for joining the other smaller parties in demanding proportional representation after the election, which as you point out is likely to give bizarrely disproportional results.

  • Caracatus,

    Miles better – But not representative of what our “elders and betters” actually intend to do.

  • Helen
    “it’s little wonder left/radical voters are deserting for the Greens”
    I wonder whether that’s true of the traditional roast beef eating Labour northern voters.

  • Manfarang 19th Jan ’15 – 4:49am
    “.,,, the traditional roast beef eating Labour northern voters.”

    Not sure when you were last in the north, Manfarang.
    Where are these Labour voters that have a tradition of eating roast beef?

    I think the menu might have changed in recent years.

  • Caracatus 18th Jan ’15 – 9:21pm

    I hope you will be available for the next election for president of the Liberal Democrats?

    What you have written heresenses a grasp of politics and the role of the party president that is light years beyond what Baroness Sal has demonstrated so far.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Jan '15 - 11:19am

    Manfarang19th Jan ’15 – 4:49am
    Helen – “it’s little wonder left/radical voters are deserting for the Greens”
    Manfarang – “I wonder whether that’s true of the traditional roast beef eating Labour northern voters?”

    Manfarang – you southern caviar-eating sotherners have no room to talk 🙂

    Seriously though, I think many green egalitarian Liberals and green Libertarian Socialists might each reasonably find a non-traditional home in the Greens.

    Did someone mention the R-word (realignment)?

    Traditional ‘Labourites’ are another matter all together. North, south, east or west, I fear they are seldom driven by the same high ideals of ‘the common interest’. In my experience their self interest is actually much closer to that of the Tories. This may go some way to explaning many of them being perfectly able to consider switching to UKIP.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Jan '15 - 11:22am

    Caracatus18th Jan ’15 – 9:21pm

    Indeed!

    The email and speach writers are even more of a liabilty than you know who.

  • I have until now been a Lib.dem voter. I have now joined the Green Party instead. You deserve to know why; my intent is not to be untagonistic, I still have a lot of time for this party and even have some respect left for Nick Clegg. After voting Lib.dem in 2010, I felt certain that my vote was correct, but when the coalition was formed with the Tories, my heart sank. I felt that the Lib.dems had sold out to the enemy. And so it has come to past, just about everybody else in the electorate believes that to be true. The Green Party have not just suddenly become the party of the left and pandering to a niche market. They have had social justice and equality on their lips for many a year; perhaps you weren’t listening.

    I haven’t found the members of the Green Party to be tree-hugging, car hating vegetarians (though a few maybe so), but generally they are attracted to pragmatic politics and actually care about people. Attacking the record of Brighton City Council won’t help. Everybody knows they are voting in a general election rather than a local one.
    Caroline Lucas is likely to be re-elected, why will Brighton folk do that if the folklore of Brighton’s failure is correct.
    Too many people will see through it.

    In short Lib.dems, many of you remain my friends, but you need to sort out your identity crisis, formulate a plan, stick to it and be more principled. Do that and maybe one day I will return. Good luck for the future (no sarcasm).

  • Stephen Hesketh

    Realignment. It is forty years next month since that dreadful day when Thatcher emerged from the Darkness to become leader of the Conservative Party and ruin the lives of more than one generation.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservative_Party_(UK)_leadership_election,_1975

    Since then there has been a rightwing realignment of politics in the UK.
    There are now two and two half Thatcherite parties — Conservative, UKIP, the Blairite half of Labour, and the Marshall Laws cuckoos in the Liberal Democrat nest.

    It is noticeable that the Greens, SNP and PC are co-operating more closely on a left agenda.
    SF, SDLP, and APNI may join with them if the alternative is the DUP being in a Westminster Government.
    So the left is currently splintered but shows signs of working together.
    People currently willing to vote for anyone to keep out The Thatcherites have to make up their own mind what is best in the constituency where they vote. This is perplexing for Liberal Democrat supporters because they perhaps have MPs who do NOT walk the walk — however they talk.

  • How depressing is it that a poster on this site just writing an e-mail off the top of their head writes something so much more inspiring, well-considered and progressive than a letter from our ‘president’; A letter which has probably been drafted, re-drafted and then over-edited by a team of Oxford graduates, before finally a poor intern has to click the send button.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Jan '15 - 12:51pm

    monica19th Jan ’15 – 11:40am

    Thank you for your post Monica. I hope someone (anyone!) in the leadership is listening to you. They have, afterall, steadfastly refused to listen to us!

  • “……,. drafted, re-drafted and then over-edited by a team of Oxford graduates, before finally a poor intern has to click the send button.”

    Yes indeed.
    If you insert into that formula —
    “and finally approved by a bright young chap from South Africa whose track record after two years is to drive down our vote in parliamentary by-elections to less than 1%”
    and you get the full picture.

  • Oh, yes, I forgot that part.

  • Monica, please know that many Lib Dems have much time for the Greens – and have no interest in starting a slanderous campaign with you. I would not agree with all of the Greens’ policies on economics, or even some of their Green policies, but I believe that their key principles are in the right place, and our parliament/perhaps some day government, would be better off for their influence.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Jan '15 - 1:06pm

    JohnTilley19th Jan ’15 – 11:45am

    “… It is forty years next month since that dreadful day when Thatcher emerged from the Darkness to become leader of the Conservative Party and ruin the lives of more than one generation.

    She later uttered the words “… Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope’ … .[fo 1] … . and to all the British people—howsoever they voted—may I say this. Now that the Election is over, may we get together and strive to serve and strengthen the country of which we’re so proud to be a part.” and then began her work to plunge us into the darkness.

    Still, the beginning of 36 (and counting) very profitable years for the wealthiest 1%!!!

  • Peter Watson 19th Jan '15 - 1:43pm

    If a significant part of the growth of the Greens is due to former Lib Dems then a lot of the reasons for criticising the Greens might diminish over time as those new members have an impact.

  • @RC

    >Do you realise what ending factory farming and switching immediately
    >to solely renewable energy *really* means?

    Yes, I do – my wife has a degree in Renewables so we follow this subject keenly. In the next 20-30 years the UK will switch entirely to renewables (look at Scotland and the percentage UK changes year on year), you seem out of touch on this subject. Fossil fuel is in decline, we know how to make energy that doesn’t destroy the planet now, we’re working on efficiency and costs. A lot of mates are 100% off-grid now and live on very little money (many have switched to 12v/5v supply for everything!).

    I don’t support factory farming, I source my dairy from local farms that I can check. Farms have ample land for the cattle needed to support our needs (they used to do this), yet the fields are empty because they’ve stuck all the animals in confinement in sheds so they can get EU grants. My family try to consume food that can be produced efficiently as regards land, animal welfare and transport costs, factory farmed products don’t meet that criteria. We lived like this on £400 a month for several years, in a council house with a kid – you’re going to have a hard time telling me that this stuff can’t work for the “poorest”. You say things are impossible, but I’ve been living this way for 20 years, and in-vitro meat will change this topic beyond all recognition in the next 20.

    >It means higher food and energy prices for everyone

    Quite the opposite. It means gardening, sharing and eating less meat; it also entails a lot of bartering for batteries, solar panels, windmills, inverters, etc. We live this way and a lot of the key is sharing resources. During the summer/autumn we get produce from friends that have big allotments, we have different single people around every other night, so they don’t have to cook for themselves; that sort of thing. For other stuff we’ve joined a local food co-op, so we get “mainstream” products at wholesale.

    >The Greens are not living in the real world

    Sound from what you’ve said that they’re a lot closer to my reality than you are! If Lib Dems have your parochial view of what a liberal life might look like then you’ve explained a lot about the current political climate, whilst simultaneously persuading many to vote Green.

  • Monica

    I read your comment and felt sad. There is nothing you said that I disagreed with except perhaps the bit about respect for Clegg.

    Like you my heart sank when the deal was done to prop up a Conservative Government. My heart has continued to sink with every bedroom tax or NHS top-down reorganisation story I hear.

    I do not agree with those people in the Liberal Democrats who churn out ludicrous propaganda against the Greens. Any objective assessment shows an overlap between the outlook and aims of the members of both parties.

    Watching the TV on Sunday morning it was obvious that Natalie Bennett was articulating a Liberal message far more effectively than the man who is temporarily leader of the Liberal Democrats.

  • ChrisB

    A very interesting comment from you especially about living “off-grid”.

    You should write more on this. People seem to be remarkably ignorant of the possibilities , especially councillors and MPs and people in positions to make a change that would benefit the many.

    Westminster Bubble politicians of all establishment parties go on about the price that Big Energy companies charge us when what they should be doing us telling the public that they do not need to go to the Big Energy profiteers at all.

  • Jayne Mansfield 19th Jan '15 - 2:26pm

    @ Caracatus,
    Gosh Caracatus, what you said was truly inspirational.

    I do get slightly miffed when posters use ‘idealistic’ in a pejorative sense. Similarly when Nick Clegg et al bang on about what is or is not ‘mature’. In the 60’s, many of us were both idealistic and immature because we had a dream. Now at the fag end of our late 60’s we still have it. There are those in the Liberal Democrats and the Green party that have much in common when it comes to envisaging a society that really does work for everyone including future generations.

    Sadly some of our leaders have very limited imaginations and/or, are fearful that a different sort of society would work against too many vested interests – the one’s that will bring them to, or keep them in power. At the moment, in my opinion, the Green Party seem like the true progressives.

  • The “Green surge” is currently running at a rate of appr. one new member per minute (over 44,000 for England Wales and Northern Ireland now) George Miles, above, said “I’d much rather we were allied with the Greens than with the Tories!” and others talk about common interests such as proportional representation. Frankly, it is much too late for such talk. Can you even imagine how utterly and totally toxic the LibDem brand is from the Greens’ point of view? They wouldn’t touch the LibDems with a barge pole. On current form It is going to take the LibDems at least decade to achieve decontamination from their strategically disastrous coalition with the Tories. Those 44,000 Greens (or whatever the number is now) feel nothing but anger and a sense of betrayal about the LibDems. They hate them with a passion. For comparison: Labour still hasn’t achieved decontamination from New labourism and Iraq after more than a decade. The best thing which could happen to the LibDems now would be near total annihilation in the 2015 elections followed by a new beginning with a clean start. That’s the fastest route to decontamination of the brand. After that the Greens may be willing to,talk to the LibDems.

  • Alex Sabine 19th Jan '15 - 2:35pm

    ChrisB – More power to you… But if the move to an all-renewables economy and an Elysian paradise of sustainability is so inevitable, presumably we don’t need Green Party economic policies to bring it about for us.

    The hidden truth about the type of pre-industrial economy they hanker after is that it would halt and reverse most of the advances being made lifting some of the world’s poorest people out of their benighted state.

    They also really need to decide whether they believe in economic growth, which they sometimes posit as a binary alternative to ‘austerity’ policies to tackle the deficit – or whether they believe growth itself is the problem and we need to be aiming for a ‘steady state’ economy.

    I note that their statement of policy (clause EC201) suggests they are sanguine about economic growth going into reverse:

    “To this end, the Citizens’ Income would allow the current dependence on economic growth to cease, and allow zero or negative growth to be feasible withou individual hardship should this be necessary on the grounds of sustainability.”

  • Jayne Mansfield 19th Jan '15 - 5:24pm

    @ Tom Voute,
    I know several long standing members of the Green Party, mainly Quakers, and they hate no-one.

    If the picture you have painted of the Greens is the correct one, a party of people who you assert are consumed by passionate political hatred and therefore incapable of accepting that there can be any points of agreement with others, I would be very surprised if you keep your new members.

    ‘Hatred’, annihilation’, ‘decontamination’. Ugh. Perhaps I and others are better off with the devil we know. Thanks for the warning.

  • David Allen 19th Jan '15 - 5:32pm

    Tom Voute,

    Spot on. I and many others have campaigned for years to get rid of Clegg and restore left-of-centre Lib Dem principles. We won the arguments, but not the votes. I think we should now accept that the Lib Dems just won’t change, because the Party has effectively been taken over.

    That has been achieved partly by driving half the membership away, partly by co-opting a “payroll” vote both at Government level and at local council level (with far too many career councillors making the disastrous decision that they cannot afford to rock Clegg’s boat), and partly by using the behind-the-scenes influence that money can buy. This latter factor is well demonstrated, by reference to an earlier Lib Dem era, in “The Prostitute State”:

    http://www.theprostitutestate.co.uk/page9.html

    I used to think there was nothing much more pathetic in UK politics than the sight of the Old Labour supporters, thrown on the scrapheap by Blair, yet continuing to turn out and help Blair bury their socialist principles. Now I see traditional Lib Dems doing very much the same. There is one big difference – The traditional socialists did know in their hearts that there was a lot wrong with statist socialism. Traditional Lib Dem principles have stood up relatively well. We do need to develop new ideas, but we don’t have a vast amount of outdated ideological baggage that we need to bin.

    As you say, it won’t happen now until our party collapses, and we can break free and make a new start.

  • David Allen 19th Jan '15 - 5:48pm

    Jayne Mansfield,

    In politics, love and hate are often just different descriptions of the same thing. Indeed, often it’s the “haters” who are being more honest, and the “lovers” who are concealing evil beliefs behind deceptive use of language. “Loving” the politicians of the American Deep South, and “hating” the US civil rights movement, were two facets of the same evil white supremacist belief. Maybe the same can be said for “loving” the crusade against fundamentalist Islamism, and “hating” the terrorists, oddballs and guys with the wrong kinds of face who we have sent to rot in Guantanamo.

    Your Quaker friends no doubt abhor the politics of “hate”, but I expect they have some strong principles about what they believe are right and wrong. I am not entirely sure how far these would differ from what Tom Voute describes as “hatred”.

  • Jayne Mansfield 19th Jan '15 - 8:20pm

    @ David Allen,
    One can have strong principles without loving or hating anyone or anything. Love and hate are both types of madness that prevent clear sightedness.

    There is an undeniable overlap between some of the the values and beliefs of some Green party members and some Liberal Democrat members who remain within the party.

  • After the election, we need to work with the other smaller parties to get electoral reform through. Beforehand, we should be wary of failing to shore up our vote against a party that is in a position to promise everything we used to call for without having to worry about delivery.

    We as a party are going to have trouble viewing this objectively. But we do need to get ourselves sorted and figure out exactly what makes the Greens an illiberal party, and more importantly, why we are a liberal one. We, as our former friend turned opponent Monica says, have an identity crisis to resolve and a reconstruction period to get through.

    To satisfy anyone who might accuse me of excessive antigreenery, by the way – I have looked at their policy website and I believe that I have legitimate issues with much of it. For example the principle of ‘negative growth’ that is laid out in their manifesto as desirable, along with their claim that their model of citizens income can somehow allow said economic shrinkage to happen without causing any hardship. Or the fact that I recognise 19th Century Tory protectionism in their reduction focussed approach to trade, as well as the mirage of economic autarky in their national and local self-sufficiency ideas. I also disapprove of their plan to disband NATO and specifically not replace it with anything for Europe. Such a plan, given the situation on Europe’s eastern fringe, is naive. Their position opposing atomic technology to ensure stable baseline capacity and reliable energy independence for Europe is irrational. On biotechnology, they’re luddites. The off grid stuff might be fine for a middle class suburbanite but is worthless in my tenement block. And so on…

    As you can probably tell, that party is pretty squarely in my personal ‘will never vote for’ bin. Strong dislike, certainly, although I would stand short of actual hate. The slightly worrying potential for the coming parliament is that, given current strategy and assuming no change, my ‘will consider voting for’ tray for 2020 will be limited to Al Murray, the Monster Raving Loonies and the Whig revival outfit I saw mentioned in the press just before Christmas. On that note, we should certainly consider adding the need for a No Suitable Candidate box to each ballot to our electoral reform policy.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Jan '15 - 8:35am

    @ T-J,
    The arguments against the Greens that you put forward, deserve a response. It is for this reason that the Green’s should be included in any debate. Personally, I would like to see a separate debate between Nick Clegg and Natalie Bennett so that they have time to debate these issues fully.

    As someone why takes it upon myself to tell strangers to pick up litter when I see them dropping it, I suppose I am not opposed to a little authoritarianism. I’m not that keen on libertarianism.

  • T-J 19th Jan ’15 – 8:24pm
    I agree with you about working with other parties after the election. Virtually all parties that is except the Conservative Party whose opposition to electoral reform was always clear and has been made even clearer during the last five years.

    When you say —
    ” To satisfy anyone who might accuse me of excessive antigreenery, by the way – I have looked at their policy website and I believe that I have legitimate issues with much of it”
    That is how I react to the policies of all political parties, it always has been.

    Policies are temporary responses to temporary circumstances.
    It is the basic beliefs and values of a party that set it apart from others. For Liberal Democrats these beliefs, aims and purpose are set out in the Preamble to party’s constitution. That is why I am still a member of the party.

    I am not a member because the man who is temporarily leader of my party says ludicrous things like he can wipe out illiteracy by 3.30 pm on a particular Monday in ten years time.

    Members of The Greens that I know personally (I know them because they used to be members of my party) feel that the basic set of beliefs expressed by The Greens includes ideals which inspire and motivate them.

    They know as little as I do about the day to day running of Brighton Council, and why should they care?
    There will be individual policies with which they disagree. Outside of North Korea there are very few political parties where every single member believes in every policy that is handed down from their dear leader.

  • @Alex Sabine

    >More power to you…
    Actually, 75% less power to me compared to 4 years ago . 🙂

    >if the move to an all-renewables economy and an Elysian paradise of sustainability
    >is so inevitable, presumably we don’t need Green Party economic policies

    Nothing is inevitable in energy politics, but spiralling consumption has halted and if we keep on the current track we could reach a point of energy independence in the foreseeable future. That’s not to say that politicians can’t muck it up enough so as to make targets unreachable, current goals have been far too modest. The UK aimed for 15% renewables by 2020, we achieved that 2 years ago, tripling production in 2012 alone – nobody accounted for tech efficiency improvements. Scotland’s done far better, with over 40% of its current energy needs being met by renewables.

    There’s no paradise in sight with energy, but micro-generation and renewables have changed our energy outlook in just 5 years. There’s no danger of Green economic policies, they’d need a few more MP’s and without PR that’s unlikely. That said, it’s completely possible to change things without being in government, as the Lib Dems used to be great at demonstrating. Green votes will mainly come from LDs, so I think we’ll see many seats lost where the Greens go from 2% to 6%, thus allowing a Tory in. I expect the week before the election some gimp will see fit to put this into a poorly proportioned graph on a leaflet that says “Greens Can’t Win Here” and “it’s a 2 horse race”, which will be my final incitement to actually vote Green! 🙂

  • @JohnTilley
    Agreed – there are some really good technologies about now and we can all be a lot less dependant on big energy, the key is to use less and make more! Energy companies are already hedging their futures on this – BP Solar now makes some of the best panels available, so investors have worked out what political parties seem to be taking a while to digest.

    @T-J
    Reading the Green manifesto has always put me off, I agree totally that it’s full of unworkable nonsense. I’m voting for the idea of the Greens in full knowledge my vote is merely registering a protest. I’ve considered MRL’s, but at least the Greens roughly point towards my beliefs; I’ll base my vote on local issues so maybe the LD PPC will suddenly step up. Not looking likely, hence the problem.

  • @Jayne Mansfield. I shouldn’t have used use words like “hatred”, I agree, it’s not helpful. It’s all about policies, not people. But I struggle to find language to express what I feel about what the LibDems have allowed to happen since 2010, and I am not the only one. Now, from purely pragmatic, cold and calculating point of view, the Greens cannot afford to be seen to have any association with the LibDems. It would split and probably destroy the party because passions run too high. And right now there’s nothing to be gained anyway, because the LibDems have nothing to useful to offer now and after 2015 what will be left of the LibDem party could well be very different from what it is now, but it will probably have no longer the power to do anything useful. That’s what I mean by the LibDem brand being toxic. It’s just Realpolitik. But the situation has some symmetry. With all of a sudden Green membership more than doubling, growth is so fast that they themselves simply don’t know what is happening and, in particular, they don’t know who all those new members are. They only know that they are people who have been radicalised by the Coalition Government experience. It is quite possible that the Green party in 2015 will not be the same party as it is now. Anyway, my terminology “decontamination” is perhaps not the best choice of words, but how would you describe the process of overcoming the reputational problem of having been a party which for 5 years has allowed policies of vindictive cruelty to the poor and vulnerable whilst making the rich richer and have been building a country of grotesque levels of inequality and social injustice? (Not to speak of the stupid blunder of the Health & Social Care Act, the abuse of the parliamentary process of the Lobbying Act, flogging off the Royal Mail at half price, and God knows what else – all stuff which was not in the Coalition Agreement). Instead of “decontamination”, what about this lovely German expression: becoming : salonfähig again (The word means: acceptable in polite company, not causing social embarrassment).

  • Simon McGrath 20th Jan '15 - 10:44am

    @ChrisB “Energy companies are already hedging their futures on this – BP Solar now makes some of the best panels available, so investors have worked out what political parties seem to be taking a while to digest.”
    BP closed down their solar operations in 2011.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Jan '15 - 11:13am

    @ Tom Voute,
    Thank you for your response. I get really worried by extremist language which can be a precursor to extremist behaviour. I hope that the 11% lead is not an outlier.

    I have worked amongst poor people in poor countries, and I remember vividly, on Indian co-worker getting very angry when people made criticisms against the rising middle classes and the new consumerism in India. As he said, they only want what you in your rich countries already have.

    Perhaps the greatest lesson, I learned from my experiences, was the difference between want and need. Too many people have failed to learn the same lesson. If we really want a fairer world, I think they should.

  • Simone McGrath 20th Jan ’15 – 10:44am

    I see you are confused again. BP Solar became ‘Solar Capture Technologies’.
    http://solarcapturetechnologies.com/sct-news/hello-world-2-917

    It is a different company name but the quality of the product I am told remains just as high. As you are a zealot for the free-market I am surprised you have not caught on to the fact that private companies sometimes change ownership but they manage to carry on producing and trading under a new name. Confusing for the less mentally alert perhaps but just as you got used to getting your telephone from someone other than the GPO I expect you will cotton eventually.

    You can still buy BP branded solar panels, if you are interested. Just google BP Solar Panels – they are on sale and in use all over the world , even where you live.

  • Alex Sabine 19th Jan ’15 – 2:35pm
    “…..The hidden truth about the type of pre-industrial economy they hanker after is that it would halt and reverse most of the advances being made lifting some of the world’s poorest people out of their benighted state.”

    This is a powerful accusation that you make against The Greens.
    Is thre anything in their pubished statements that would verify that they hanker after a “pre-industrial economy”.

    Can you provide any evidence for your accusation or is it just a statement of your own blind prejudice?

  • @Simon
    I’d not noticed that, thanks. The market had a bit of a shake after the coalition announced it was going to renege on renewable subsidies, so maybe BP got spooked. A friend got one a couple of years ago, so I think they’re still on sale somewhere as BP Solar and they seem pretty great!

  • Simon McGrath 20th Jan '15 - 1:25pm

    @JohnTilley – when in hole …..

  • Alex Sabine 20th Jan '15 - 3:16pm

    JohnTilley – Well, for starters, their openly stated policy aim I have cited twice now of putting economic growth into reverse. Give that a decade or so and it would make quite a difference to living standards in both absolute terms and in relation to the advances that the non-Green parts of the world will be enjoying.

    But also their general hostility to the factors – trade, markets, property ownership and capital accumulation – that have proved the main engines of prosperity for the past few centuries. Their policy documents are littered with examples of these attitudes, I cannot reproduce them all here.

  • David Allen 20th Jan '15 - 4:44pm

    … you’re going to stop digging Simon?

  • Stephen Hesketh 20th Jan '15 - 4:58pm

    Simon McGrath20th Jan ’15 – 1:25pm
    “@JohnTilley – when in hole ….”

    Ooops! Was that the sound of a stone going through house glass?

  • The truth remains that the rise of the Greens right now is a disaster for the Lib Dems because it will split our vote and will get virtually none of their own (one or maybe two) MPs elected.

    I would beg anyone joining the Greens or thinking of voting for them to think again. You will achieve the opposite of what you are hoping for.

    The Lib Dems may not be perfect, but perfect does not exist in the UK, least of all under first past the post. The Lib Dems remain the greenest and fairest party of those likely to have any influence or significant numbers of MPs in May. Also you will make it even less likely that proportional representation will be introduced.

    In short, voting Green in the May general election is seriously bad news. Just don’t do it.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Jan '15 - 7:42pm

    @RC,
    I’m sorry but the sort of people who would defect to the Green party seem to be the sort of people Nick Clegg didn’t want in the party anyway. I don’t know what more could have been done to encourage such people to change their allegiance.

    I dare say our party will soon be able to make up the numbers with ‘soft’ tories

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Jan '15 - 7:45pm

    Sorry I meant ‘your’ party.

  • Jayne, John and ChrisB, sorry for my slow response, the internet doesn’t arrive at my new flat until Wednesday at the earliest…

    You are all talking about broad principles, really. I aimed at specific policies because the last time I criticised the broad principles of Green thought, I got told I was being unfair and should look at their policies to see the light. Can’t win, I suppose.

    The principles of Green thought are, as I said before, very much in line with 19th century Tory thinking on political economy, protectionism and self-sufficiency as virtue stuff. The argument of those times, Tories versus Whigs, is repeated today in much the same terms, only where then we had Tories extolling the virtues of policy like the Corn Laws and calling for British self-sufficiency out of a fear of the undeserving poor and the threat of French imperial recurrence, we today have the Greens calling for the very same protectionism and self-sufficiency out of concern for the environment and a fairly arbitrary decision on the Earth and this island’s carrying capacity in terms of population.

    Of course, there’s more going on and in addition to that we still have extreme Tories and Kippers playing from the original script too. This raises in my view the very real concern that those political tribes may align on their shared liking of the idea of autarky and cause great damage to peoples’ lives and chances in doing so.

    Now, I’m not saying that the Greens are actually bad people. The Greens are Malthus come again, putting forward a political agenda that may indeed mean well, but which fails to consider, or even outright rejects any notion of technological and social progress, and overlooks the negative effects it’ll cause with a handwave. Ultimately it buys into a pessimistic, retreat-and-regress Tory view of political economy as opposed to the Whig view that holds to openness, optimism and advancement as the solution to difficulties.

    It is these ideas, that the future can be made better by human effort rather than merely mitigated, that openness and freedom will help us to achieve that and trade’s increase will allow us all to become more prosperous, that I find conspicuously absent from the Green Party, in terms of policy, in terms of membership and in terms of founding principles. Nothing founded on such a fatalistic approach to political economy can realistically be a vehicle for what I believe in, nor can I bring myself to go along with it as a lesser of many evils.

    For me, Liberalism is what you get when you take that broad whiggish attitude and add to it the best of what we’ve learned from the following centuries – the idea of popular sovereignty, community politics and a more consistent approach to the equality of all under the law. It puts the individual human and their community at the soul and centre of politics, and that is what I believe in. I still believe this party is its best chance in British politics. As I say, should that change, I’ll have to find somewhere else to be, but it won’t be with the Greens.

  • Stephen Hesketh 20th Jan '15 - 8:08pm

    RC 20th Jan ’15 – 6:55pm and Jayne Mansfield 20th Jan ’15 – 7:42pm

    I actually agree with you both!

    The Greens would however always be my personal second preference – or even first – when a mainstream Lib Dem couldn’t win.

  • Stephen Hesketh 20th Jan '15 - 8:09pm

    Speaking of mainstream Liberal Democracy, I recommend a read of Iain Brodie-Browne’s excellent review of Unlocking Liberalism: Life after the Coalition at http://birkdalefocus.blogspot.co.uk/

    Caron – written by three Lib Dem Scots – how come no LDV review? [[Hoping I haven’t missed it 🙂 ]]

    Any books written by that distinctly less mainstream Liberal Democrat also named Browne seem never to suffer from a similar lack of publicity!

  • RC 20th Jan ’15 – 6:55pm
    “The truth remains that the rise of the Greens right now is a disaster for the Lib Dems because it will split our vote …”

    RC,
    You and I know that the leadership and HQ have abandonned all hope of winning in more than 600 constituencies.
    It is not exactly a state secret, is it?
    So what difference will it make if the Greens split our 8% (or whatever our poll share is by 7th May)?

    Or are you fighting a rear-guard battle to save deposits?

  • In the meantime, to keep you all up to date, today at 21.00 the membership of the England and Wales Green Party is 45,432. Add the figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland (these are a few days out of date) of 8,250 and 350 respectively, making a total of 54,032 UK Green party members.

  • 143 comments on this thread so far.
    But no reponse from Baroness Sal to the criticism of her e-mail.

    As the Baroness herself said — we know “only too well” – some people don’t hang around when things get tough.

  • This was inevitable and anyone that didn’t see it coming wasn’t understanding what the ex-Lib Dem voter’s “don’t knows” from polling were really saying. The message has been clear, centre-left voters were told by Clegg that they weren’t welcome, but they have no natural home elsewhere. This is the result. LDV has run a lot of articles on this topic over the past week, none of them explicitly define what the Lib Dems have done for the environment in the last 5 years, so they’re really hardening potential Green defectors.

    It’s also apparent now why Cameron is so passionate about the Greens joining the TV debates, he needs the Greens to decapitate the Lib Dem vote share in Tory/LD marginals. It’s a potentially winning concept.

  • @CrissB “ none (of the LDV articles) explicitly define what the Lib Dems have done for the environment in the last 5 years, so they’re really hardening potential Green defectors” I think that this comment is rather behind the times. The way I “read” the Green surge is that it is not particularly about the environment at all but about social and economic policies. About Cameron being scared to debate on telly without the Greens: I rather doubt that he still thinks that the LibDems matter that much in electoral terms. He wants the Greens to dilute the Labour vote, That’s the big prize for him.

  • So you’re saying supporting the Greens really is likely to give us 5 more years of Dave, without any Lib Dem interference?

    I clearly am behind the times, I thought it was a protest vote but you’ve presented it as something that’s going to deliver exactly what I don’t want!

  • @ChrisB. I was talking about the motivations of those who are joining the green Party, not about possible outcomes anticipated or desired by them. What exactly is going to be delivered by anyone in a formal sense after the May 2015 election is anybody’s guess. For what it’s worth, I think that the real political campaigns will start after the elections results are declared and the allocation of Parliamentary seats will be found to bear no meaningful relationship the votes cast. When the 2 largest parties each seem to have only about 30% support of the electorate, any government, however composed, will not be what the people voted for and will therefore not have much of a mandate to govern. (Reminder: how many electors voted for a Conservative-LibDem coalition in 2010?). Just imagine, in some scenarios either the Conservatives or Labour will wangle a small majority of seats with all of their 30% of the vote because their opponents’ votes were more diluted than their own in the crucial marginals. Everyday of the week for the next 5 years, or whatever, they will then be loudly and publicly reminded of the fact that two thirds of the electorate voted against them. If you think it through, some rather disturbing questions emerge. What, for example, is the status of an Act of Parliament if it is very blatantly not an expression of the will of the people, as expressed through their votes?

  • Tom Voute 20th Jan ’15 – 9:06pm
    In the meantime, to keep you all up to date, … …a total of 54,032 UK Green party members.

    Tom Voute, are you taking bets on when the Green membership will top 60,000 ?

  • JohnTilly: 22.0.15, at 10.36 am: now 55, 298 (underestimate because the Scottish and NI figures are not updated) From a management point of view it is worrying. when any organisation grows so fast. In one sense it’s a crisis. How do you absorb a such numbers quickly, find out who they are and what they think, what their expectations are, communicate with them, involve them in activities – when you have completely run out or resources such as leaflets etc. even after trebling the print runs? Yes , we could take bets on 60,000 members. Nobody knows what is really going on.

  • JohnTilley: PS if you like betting, what about bets on when the first LibDem MP and the first Labour MP will defect to the Greens?

  • >how many electors voted for a Conservative-LibDem coalition in 2010?

    59% of the country voted either Lib Dem or Tory, and the chance of a coalition was known, debated and reported for 2 years prior to the election. In this sense, it was the most representative government in recent years. My issue is this Green surge is sounding like it could effect so many outcomes that Lib Dem & Labours election problems might be just starting, and what this is could lead to is the most right-wing government of our lifetime. I can already see in some marginals it could easily lead to UKIP candidates but I’m really only seeing 2 seats as viable for the Greens.

    I wouldn’t want to take any bets with numbers moving at that pace! If they top 100,000 and some sort of organisational genius comes along I’d revise my “2 seats” estimate too, it’s hard to know what happens when a party suddenly has an army (asides a lot of gaffes).

  • JohnTilley PPS, I make it 55,403 now now. (12.05pm)

  • Correction : 59% of voters voted either Lib Dem or Tory, NOT 59% of the country, two completely different figures.
    Sorry.

  • ChrisB: a possibility of the most right wing government of our life time based on getting a third of the votes? Technically possible but sounds like a socially extremely unstable scenario. I am sure not even the business community would like such an outcome and it would frighten international investors. Scottish independence will be guaranteed.

  • Update, 15.03 pm. Green Party membership passed 47,000 in England and Wales. Total for the UK more than 55,600. Has the”LibDem fight back” of the original post started yet?

  • @ Tom

    Yet more people signing up for policies that won’t work and a false prospectus of unending government spending and borrowing. Very, very sad.

    However many members their might be, all you can do is split the left-of-centre vote and lead to more Tory MPs being elected. You will wake up on May 8 with just one, maybe two MPs and you will have done nothing to make Britain either fairer or greener.

    The Greens are a disaster for a progressive Britain.

  • @ John Tilley

    I am talking about seats we hold. The Greens will take votes from us and in most cases, the beneficiaries will be the Tories.

    Thanks for nothing, Greens.

  • Jayne Mansfield 22nd Jan '15 - 4:05pm

    @ RC,
    In the Daily Telegraph a few months ago, there appeared an article headlined. ‘Nick Clegg: People are voting green because they are attracted to the politics of “grievance and blame”.’ It is still available on the internet for anyone who cares to read. it.

    Why would people who have genuine concerns about the environment, and who been so insulted, feel that they owe your party anything? I would have thought that it would be those people who should be saying thanks for nothing Lib Dems.

  • Dear RC. The Green Party have mopped up the votes that were lost; they haven’t just poached them. If those people hadn’t decided to become Green, what party would they be voting for, given that they are saying ‘not Lib.dem’.

  • RC: Nothing new then. Labour, New labour, the SDP (remember them?), the Libdems, all disasters for progressive Britain too. What about the LibDems coming to their senses: dissolve the party and tell all members that they should now vote Labour to stop a majority of Tory MPs being elected? That’s the logic of your argument as you apply it to the Greens. After all, if the LibDems had’t stood in the way in 2010, and took away votes from Labour we might have has a “progressive” government in 2010. Whatever is happening now is happening now, and it is messy. Whatever the outcome, as I wrote earlier, real political campaigning will ,start after the election results are declared because the election’s outcome will not be democratic, with or without the Green votes. The Green votes added to the mix will, just make the situation more clear. All those Greens, if if they have a grain of realism, know that full well.

  • RC, we can’t rely on ‘can’t win here’ as our only response to greenery. We have to speak to people about what green thought actually means, and why liberal ideas are better.

    Tom Voute, what positive effect do you think you’re having, by wafting your membership figures in our faces and sneering?

    Jayne, people who care about the environment should look at what the various parties have done and propose to do in the future for the environment, and not let a Telegraph opinion piece on the motivations of recent converts to whatever political party dictate their attitude to the other parties. For the Lib Dems, the things we’ve done include the Green Investment Bank, the doubling of renewable energy generation capacity over this parliament and the support and promotion of a now world-leading offshore wind industry.

    Of course, if people think we’ve failed to get enough through the Tory roadblock, they have one of two options – vote for us again to see if we can do better in a more advantageous balance of Parliamentary power, or vote for another party if they think one exists that could do better.

    With the Greens proposing a confidence and supply deal with Labour where they agree to support a me-too austerity budget from the red team in return for vague promises of concessions or something (we’ve known since the 70s that such deals are a dead end), I honestly don’t understand how they can be seen as a party with the political nous to succeed where we failed. But it is ultimately up to the electorate.

  • Fair enough, T-J, no more membership figures, if you think that that’s sneering. On more substantial matters, the Greens did not “propose” a confidence and supply “deal” with Labour because the Green leadership has no authority to do so from its membership. They only suggested the possibility of supply and confidence arrangements. But they specifically do, at least at this stage, not commit themselves to any coalition with any party and, I believe, are unlikely to do so because it would be too divisive within the party. The idea of accepting Labour’s “austerity” in a deal for some other concessions is ill-informed nonsense. That really is out of the question. To be honest, they never had any strategy for the 2015 elections other than keeping their Brighton MP. They didn’t even have any serious objective t of a second MP in Partliament. In London, for example, the purpose of the 2015 elections campaigning was only seen as a “capacity building” effort for the real priority, namely the Greater London Authority elections of 2016, where they can make real gains. the big Green membership surge is, in a way, a distraction from these original pragmatic and limited b objectives. The most level headed and experienced Greens are still thinking more about 2016 campaigning and would regard a 2nd seat in 2015 as a welcome bonus, no more. It is actually not possible now to have any defined strategy for the 2015 election if you don’t know the aspirations of at least half, if not two thirds now, of your membership who joined too recently to find out much about them. Speculations about what “theGreen Party” may or may not do and what the effects could be assume that the situation is much more tidy and coherent in traditional ,political,terms than it really is. All we know is that an awful lot of people in England are seriously dissatisfied with Labour, the LibDems and of course Tory and Ukip (Scotland is different) and they they have discovered that there is a minor, actually not very significant, party, namely the Green Party, which seems to respond to what they feel. and that joining that party seems good idea. Do,they feel they are joining a traditional political,party or a pressure group? Who knows? I rather doubt that many of them will have read the Green Party’s manifesto and all its policy ideas. But it is abundantly clear that it is not a matter of just environmental issues. In this sense, the LibDems’ environmental record could be a bit irrelevant. The effect is certainly disruptive and uncomfortable for Labour and the LibDems, but how it will,play out in 2015 and beyond is anybody’s guess. To get back to the original post, if the LibDems want to “fight back” (which I welcome, it can only make things better for British politics), they will have to start with trying to find out what exactly it is they propose to fight. That doesn’t seem very clear cut to me at the moment.

  • RC 22nd Jan ’15 – 3:35pm
    “……I am talking about seats we hold. The Greens will take votes from us and in most cases, the beneficiaries will be the Tories.”

    I can understand why you say this. In past years in constituencies where a Liberal Democrat MP was facing a serious challenge from a Conservative I might have said something similar to anyone considering voting Green. But going back to those same people in 2015 it is rather difficult to repeat that appeal, isn’t it?

    We cannot say to potential Green voters “Ah but you must vote Lib Dem to keep the Tory out — when they did that in 2010 and the net result was that it kept the Tories in Government for 5 years.

    Ŵe cannot go to CND members and say “Ah but you must vote Lib Dem to keep the Tory out — when we had a debate in Parliament this week on Trident and 90% of Dem MPs sat on their hands.”

    We cannot go to people who have had to move home because they cannot afford to pay the hated Bedroom Tax and say “Ah but you must vote Lib Dem to keep the Tory out — and then five years later the Lib Dems might propose some piffling re-arrangement of the Bedroom Tax which will not get through Parliament but will help the Lib Dem Leadership to pretend that it is different from the public school [email protected]@rds who forced you out of your home.”

    Four different people have already pointed out why your comment fails to hold water. All of them make valid points. For me it is the facts of the years of betrayal under Clegg which even before the coalition began made voters start to question if voting Lib Dem actually kept out the Tory or merely let the Tory in by another door.

  • Tom Voute 22nd Jan ’15 – 11:34pm
    “….. if the LibDems want to “fight back” … ….they will have to start with trying to find out what exactly it is they propose to fight. That doesn’t seem very clear cut to me at the moment.”

    Tom Voute, in a well argued and clear cut comment you conclude with this sentence. It is the existential question for
    Liberal Democrats and maybe explains why there are more than 160 comments in this thread at the same time as dozens of other comments in two other threads here in LDV.

    Your question to Liberal Democrats will be even more mportant on 8th May after the farce of the General Election is behind us.

    If Liberal Democrats cannot rapidly work out “..,what exactly it is they propose to fight.” will be swallowed up by the Official Conservative Party or disappear like David Owen’s ill-conceived ‘Continuing SDP’.

    A historical note for those who are too young to remember David Owen’s ‘Continuing SDP’
    This was a political party of a handful of MPs and a few scattered councillors who gave up the ghost in 1988 after a humiliating by-election result in Bootle. Our dear leader would I guess have been in his last year at Robinson’s College or thereabouts and according to published information from those who knew him at the time was a member of the Conservative Party. Or perhaps he had already gone off to be a ski-instructor ? Those who fail to learn the lessons of history … .. .

  • Colin

    You neatly sum up why the disstrous electoral strategy of Clegg and the closet Consevatives who surround him.

    Why vote for a closet conservative when you can vote for the real thing?

    Having said that I would urge you and everyone else in Guildford to vote for Kelly-Marie Blundell because she as an individual has demonstrated that she would be a better MP for Guildford than the incumbent Conservative.

    You should be entirely selfish and vote for what is best for Guildford. Vote for Kelly-Marie Blundell.

  • Apologies the Spill Chucker has been at work. My last comment should have started —

    Colin

    You neatly sum up why the disastrous electoral strategy of Clegg (and the Closet Consevatives who surround him) has brought humiliation and ridicule to the Liberal Democrats.

  • @Colin. I also live in a no-hope safe Conservative constituency (Croydon South). The only “realistic” option has always been to vote LibDem, who always came second. Not anymore of course. In the 2014 local council elections the LibDems who used to come 2nd in local elections too, this came 5th, after the Greens in every ward. But in national elections no vote for an opposition party, as long as it has at least one Member of Parliament, is really wasted. The reason is a long-standing state funding mechanism for opposition parties which is little known by grassroots party members and activists. It is known as “Short money” (google it!). The reason for its existence is that it is widely recognised that no democracy and government can function without an effective opposition. The formula is roughly: annual payments of £14,000 per seat in Parliament plus £27.99 per 200 votes cast anywhere for that party as well as money for travel expenses. (The LibDems lost a lot of “Short money” in 2010 when they joined the government and ceased to be in opposition.). This “Short money” may not seem a lot, but it does add up and for a party such as the Greens, which has no corporate funding (and would refuse it anyway) this is serious money. (I know nothing about LibDem finances). Therefore, in no-hope safe seats it is best to vote for the opposition party you really want to support, rather than an unsuccessful tactical vote, so that the party you really want to support gets at least that state funding for your vote.

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd Jan '15 - 12:17pm

    @ T-J,
    The Daily Telegraph were quoting Nick Clegg. My husband, fairly unpolitical but previous an on /off Labour voter who opposed the Iraq war, wasn’t wanted according to your fussy leader. Neither are people of the liberal left like myself. Now, according to the report, it seems, anyone attracted to the Green party during this current surge is fair game for insult.

    When will this man recognise that he has driven voters away from your party, not only by his seemingly comfortable accommodation with the policies of a tory party to the right of Margaret Thatcher, but also by pinning up his ‘Not Welcome’ sign ?

  • @Colin. So much food for thought in this thread. On reflection, why this idea of “fighting”?. What happens between now and 7 May 2015 is out of control anyway. We need the LibDem party to exist as part of Britain’s political ecology and its “Lib” bit is an important part of Britain’s historical ,identity. We have to think about what we are going to do after 7 May 2015. We could spend our time more fruitfully doing some post-election planning. Some key factors: 1) if the polls are anything to go by, the discrepancy between votes cast and MPs elected could well be so extreme that whatever government emerges, it will not have a democratic mandate. This is not an issue for any one particular party to deal ,with but one for all of us to address 2) We Greens will, sooner or later, have to learn to work with other parties, and 3) the LibDem party has to find its soul again post 7/5/15. Put those factors together and I can see a lot of merit in a low key, grassroots level “peace process” from below . Not stuff to make headlines, but in a quiet unassuming, exploratory way. For example (I have no idea how this would be received by my lot!) our local party inviting a local LibDem ( or a a few of them ) to discuss post 7/5/15 scenarios and their challenges and opportunities. There would be only one ground rule; both sides strictly do not talk about the Coalition era and regard that as past history which is behind us, but only discuss the future? What do you think? .

  • Jayne, I would have preferred to talk about the part of my post that addressed environmental achievements. Unfortunately, as we are discovering, it is almost impossible to make headway when the leadership is so unpopular. In any case I hope you will again consider voting for this party, or if things get really bad, its successors at some point in the future.

    Tom Voute, ‘We need the LibDem party to exist as part of Britain’s political ecology and its “Lib” bit is an important part of Britain’s historical ,identity.’,

    Thank you. We also have use for a Green party in a fully democratic proportional system. It is possible that there will be opportunity later in the year to jointly make the case against the status quo there. Unite with anyone do do good, as the quote goes.

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Jan '15 - 10:53pm

    Tom Voute – I would also take you up on your offer if I lived in the south east.

    For the common good is so much more representative of my personal values than Clegg’s apolitical stronger economy, fairer society rubbish.

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd Jan '15 - 11:10pm

    @ T-J,
    I’m sorry, my anger and disappointment must be dispiriting to those who have worked hard for the party.

    After so many years of casting my vote without having to think too deeply, I’m doing the equivalent of thinking aloud on here. I intended to vote Lib Dem again if my local candidate had similar views to the one’s I always associated with the party, views that are so well articulated by many contributors on here.

    I’ll button up. The last thing I want to do is undermine people who are prepared to give time and effort to bringing about much needed change. In the first instance, I’ll set myself a week of enormous self restraint.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 24th Jan '15 - 11:39am

    The Green Party on the matter of air travel is committed to:

    “Introduce taxation on aviation that reflects its full environmental costs. Failure to tax aviation fuel, and choosing not to levy VAT on tickets and aircraft, amounts to a subsidy worth around £10bn every year in the UK alone”

    Already communities that hail from the Carribean Islands are disproportionalty paying far more for tickets to visits their families, and ancestral homes, not merely for holidays, but as a result of obligations and duties that they have, than many other people travelling elsewhere for holidays.

    Such community members are also amongst the poorest within British society, but the Green Party does not appear to realise that this policy, that is driven from good intent, actually discriminates against these communities.

    How does our own Green Agenda (much needed I hasten to add) tackle this matter, which many BME communities are interested in?

    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera

    Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrat (EMLD) – Vice Chair
    Liberal Democrat South Central Region Executive – Diversity Officer

  • @Tom

    >if the polls are anything to go by, the discrepancy between votes cast and MPs
    >elected could well be so extreme that whatever government emerges, it will
    >not have a democratic mandate

    There’s little chance of Green voters democratically achieving anything but more Tories (thus less environmental policies) because of the voting system. You seem to think people will be bothered by this, but there was a referendum on this issue only 4 years ago and nobody cared. The Green surge is going to translate into a lot more tories, a lot less lib dems/labour and in an extreme win, perhaps 1 more green MP. Whilst not being very happy with the Lib Dems at the moment, I agree with much of what TJ’s saying.

    It’s sounding like the worst possible scenario for centre-left politics and the environment.

  • CrisB, . The AV referendum 4 years ago was in a very different context from the anticipated election results of May this year. And whatever your expectations of apathy by the general public, as politically engaged people on forums like this one, we ought to be concerned about the next government’s democratic mandate, or lack of it. Your point “there’s little chance of Green voters democratically achieving anything but more Tories (thus less environmental policies) because of the voting system” rather begs the question of what you want the Greens to do to prevent such an outcome. At the risk of annoying T-J, Green membership in the UK now stands at 57,000. What exactly is your message to these people? Please spell out what exactly you want them to do to keep,the Tories out, This is not a rhetorical question. I actually share your concern, but we need realistic proposals rather than accusations.

  • The argument that voting Green gets the Tories in is rather predicated on a mindset stuck in 2010: don’t vote your beliefs, vote pragmatically to prevent your least-desired result. Been there, done that, voted Lib Dem, got exactly the opposite result to what I wanted. I’d rather this time try voting my ideals – if I fail, at least I fail honestly.

    And I have to say, better the party that might be lying to me but haven’t yet than the ones that clearly have already.

  • Denis Mollison 25th Jan '15 - 8:29am

    Ruwan U-P

    I’m sorry, but making air travel pay its full environmental costs is an important part of tackling climate change, and as a Green Lib Dem it’s a policy I fully support. The present international agreement not to tax aviation fuel was introduced in the 1940s, and is long past looking like a policy compatible with a sustainable planet. Sadly it is very difficult to change.

  • RC commented “The truth remains that the rise of the Greens right now is a disaster for the Lib Dems because it will split our vote and will get virtually none of their own (one or maybe two) MPs elected…I would beg anyone joining the Greens or thinking of voting for them to think again. You will achieve the opposite of what you are hoping for..The Lib Dems may not be perfect, but perfect does not exist in the UK, least of all under first past the post. The Lib Dems remain the greenest and fairest party of those likely to have any influence or significant numbers of MPs in May. Also you will make it even less likely that proportional representation will be introduced.In short, voting Green in the May general election is seriously bad news. Just don’t do it.”
    Thanks for the advice. I live in a marginal constituency area where I’m forced to vote tactically ,because of the FPTP system, against the Conservative incumbent and Labour are my best chance to stop the same MP getting in again. I don’t agree with everything that Labour represent but I prefer Ed Milliband to either Cameron or Clegg any day.

    You are right; people voting democratically for their party of choice in this case for the Greens will be a disaster for you. Minority parties such as the Lib Dems may get a stab at power in coalitions once in a generation or so, and we see the results this time of your party’s opportunity to hold power.

    Had the Lib Dems remained in opposition , allowing the Conservatives to form a minority government then your argument might have had some impact on me. . Your votes in the House could have then ensured that more egalitarian policies were enacted rather than those which the coalition arrived at. You would have been in a much stronger position than you are now electorally – rather you pretended to do the ‘right thing’ for the country ‘s economic ‘stability’ or whatever spin you wished to use at the time.

    I’m unsure about the Greens but everything your party have done to prop up this extreme ‘Thatcherite’ government has determined that I will not vote for you. I made that mistake last time . You have lost many supporters who would like to see a centre left party because you are perceived – rightly or wrongly – as right wing neo-liberal ‘Tory-lite’ now.

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