The Guardian – a pro Labour propaganda sheet

I have read the Guardian just about every day since 19 October 1960 – the day after the death of the News Chronicle. From time to time it has, of course, been critical of Liberal positions but, by and large, over those sixty years, it has been the only fair and independent voice amongst the national newspapers. Alas, this is no longer the case. Under Katharine Viner, the current editor, it has become it has become a blatant pro-Labour paper. It carries weekly pro-Labour columns from Owen Jones and the openly Labour activist, Polly Toynbee. Their partisan columns are regularly supplemented by Gary Younge and Paul Mason. There isn’t a single Liberal columnist. As you might imagine, I have taken all this up with the editor.

Then, last Monday, 18 November, it carried a bizarrely tendentious column entitled “The Lib Dems helped wreck my 20s. Young voters beware.” I immediately wrote answering the column. A number of pro-Liberal Democrat letters were published but, significantly, all were apologetic about the past and none rebutted the arguments.  For the sake of arming colleagues, the text of my letter read:

It would be difficult to image a more tendentious article than that by Rhiannon Lucy Coslett, (The Lib Dems helped wreck my 20s. Young voters beware, 18 November). She completely disregards the circumstance at the time of the 2010 general election, just two years after the  banking collapse with the British economy in a precarious state following the taxpayers’ bailout of some £500 billion. The election produced a hung parliament and the stability of a coalition government was needed. Any possibility of a government including Labour disappeared when it stated it would not enter into a coalition that included the SNP. Labour’s decision ensured that the arithmetic was not there for a different coalition.

Certainly there were Liberal Democrat policies which were inevitably unpopular but Ms Cosslett ought also to look at policies which greatly assisted poorer members of the community. For instance, raising the basic tax threshold took over a million poorer people out of paying any tax at all. And the Pupil Premium was a considerable help to schools working in poorer areas.

One of her biggest travesties is the caricature of the Liberal Democrats’ policy which replaced Labour’s student loans – which were payable throughout a student’s university life and afterwards. She states that she ‘graduated with more than £30,000 in student debt.’ In actual fact no payment at all was required during her student career and she only had to repay anything after she was earning over £400 per week, and then only on a percentage of the excess. What is more all unpaid student loan is written off after thirty years. Surely not a bad deal, and certainly better than that of the previous Labour government.

As for whether Liberal Democrat criticism of Labour is more marked than of the Conservatives, it is a very subjective matter. The party is equally vehement in exposing both fallacies, and any variation from time to time might just be because one or other is more reprehensible. I wonder why, for instance, she fails to make any reference to Brexit. Could it be because the Liberal Democrats and the Liberal party before them have consistently favoured a united Europe including the United Kingdom since 1955 whereas it was the nineteen Labour MPs who voted for Boris Johnson’s deal who pushed it through when their opposition would have defeated it?

* Michael Meadowcroft has been campaigning for Liberalism for sixty-two years! He has served in just about every capacity in the party and in elected offices, including MP for Leeds West, 1983-87. He then spent twenty years working in new and emerging democracies across the world

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  • Stephen Harte 26th Nov '19 - 3:41pm

    Every time the box pops up asking for donations, remember the above article.

  • David Becket 26th Nov '19 - 3:46pm

    I started taking the Guardian in the 1950’s. For many years I had a regular subscription.

    I stopped taking it last year, not only had it become a mouthpiece for Labour it had become under Viner anti Lib Dem.

    I now take the “I”. A more balanced paper, cheaper and does not include the mountains of printed rubbish at weekends.

    I suggest every Liberal Democrat should consider taking similar action.

  • I too have been reading the Guardian on a daily basis since I looked after the newspapers in the school sixth form in the early sixties and I warmly support Michael Meadowcroft’s comments. He could have added Andy Beckett to the list. One of the regular laments of the standard bearers for pro-Labour “independent journalism” is that Liberal Democrats are both useless and split the anti-Tory vote. To which we might respond if that is their concern then they know what they can do with the present voting system for Westminster elections! Meanwhile I shall continue my subscription to the newspaper with a dogged belief in the eternal possibility of repentance. Meanwhile Polly Toynbee writes well, and sometimes presents cogent arguments. But most of the time over the years as she travelled from Labour to SDP and back again I like to think she has honed my critical faculties.

  • “the openly Labour activist, Polly Toynbee”. Mmmmm.

    I once gave her a lift from Darlington railway station to save her a taxi fare when she came up from London to campaign for the SDP candidate in the 1983 by-election….. which the SDP (with their Chariots of Fire) proceeded to make rather a mess of……. and which, of course, they modestly denied.

    I wonder what happened next ? Do you think it had anything to do with the Coalition and the Lib Dem swing to the right, Michael ?

  • Hindsight is a marvellous science. In 2010 we had to get the debt away to finance the banking collapse (£500bn cited above). Without demonstrating control over government spending it would have been a near impossible ask. The Tories effectively blocked raised infra-structure spending.

    On student fees, didn’t the Coalition follow the recommendations of the Browne Commission set up by Gordon Brown?

  • John Marriott 26th Nov '19 - 4:34pm

    @Michael Meadowcroft
    Don’t worry, Mr Meadowcroft. I’ve written loads of letters to the Guardian in recent years and have had the occasional one printed, even though I do not share your distinguished pedigree. Far from me to criticise such an experienced political operator as yourself; but, if that was the letter you sent, might I suggest that it was a trifle too long to warrant publication? They like their letters to be short and snappy, or at least that’s what their acknowledgement implies.

    I also read The Times and have to say that some of its writers often offer a fairly balanced view of left of centre politics. They even publish letters now and again that are favourable to the Lib Dems.

  • Mick Taylor 26th Nov '19 - 4:35pm

    Hm. 1983 and the coalition were 27 years apart. I think you’ll find that Ms Toynbee had returned to Labour long before that.
    Sadly, I am beginning to think David Raw is one of those who’d argue which fly would come off the wall first. Nothing and no-one is ever quite right for him.
    As for the Guardian, my wife and I abandoned it in 2010, when it started telling downright lies about the coalition. Like David Beckett we did take the I for sometime until it too abandoned any pretence of being impartial.
    We now take no newspapers at all. It’s a shame, since I used to enjoy reading them, especially the Sundays, but I’m no longer willing to pay money for Labour or Tory fronts.

  • Barry Lofty 26th Nov '19 - 5:24pm

    I too have travelled from the Guardian to the Times and ended reading the ‘I” for all the same reasons given above, but only today have written to the editor of the “I” complaining about the lack of coverage of the Liberal Democrats during this vital election. The paper purports to be truly independent of any political party but has daily updates on the Conservatives and Labour parties but very little about the Lib Dems and so it looks that I will be discontinuing my daily paper also which is a shame but the lack of coverage does make me angry which, at my age, does,nt help the blood pressure!

  • Roger Billins 26th Nov '19 - 5:41pm

    Giving up the Guardian would be like losing an old friend but it might have to disappear from my Christmas card list ! Owen Jones is not a journalist but a polemicist! Like others I have memories of Polly and the SDP. I was heavily involved in the a Peckham by election and one of the committee rooms was in the basement of her very grand house. She looked down on her neighbours from a great height and still does !

  • Michael Cole 26th Nov '19 - 5:54pm

    I no longer pay for any newspaper, having regularly read the Guardian for many years, before it became a vehicle for Labour propaganda.

    But the problem is wider. The broadcast media take their agenda from the newspapers, which perpetuates the imbalance.
    Most political programmes feature a panel which routinely comprises, for the most part, journalists from national newspapers.

    Hence the ‘hatchet job’ on Jo Swinson.

  • Yes, the Guardian has become an embarrassment. Gave it up long ago. The Financial Times and Economist provide plenty of liberal centred reporting and analysis.

    But just a correction. I think Timothy Garton Ash still writes for the Guardian, and is a Liberal Democrat. Probably one or two low profile writers too.

    To me, any newspaper that gives a platform (let alone a salary) to such a vile and appalling person as Owen Jones, should stop calling itself a newspaper. The Daily Mail got rid of the vile and appalling Katie Hopkins. I wait with baited breath for the Guardian to do the decent thing with Owen Jones. Owen and his online brigade of hate epitomise everything you need to know about Mr Corbyn’s Nasty Party

  • @ Mick Taylor. Takes one to know one, Mick.

  • Laurence Cox 26th Nov '19 - 6:19pm

    I too take the i, but I may have to stop if its takeover by the owners of the Daily Mail goes through. Michael is quite right about the way that The Guardian has gone since Katharine Viner took over from Alan Rusbridger, who I thought was quite a fair editor even if leaning towards Labour. The only Guardian columnist whom I think is always worth reading is John Harris; he at least gets out of the Westminster bubble and writes about what people in the provinces (and particularly in Leave-voting areas) think. Gary Younge is all right when he is writing about US politics.

    On the other hand, I always go the the Guardian web site on Tuesdays for my weekly fix of David Squires: I often wonder how someone living in Australia can have his finger so firmly on the pulse of English football. There are also subtle (and not so-subtle) references to TV programmes like The Simpsons and part of the challenge is to get them before reading the comments BTL.

  • Roland Postle 26th Nov '19 - 6:43pm

    “Most political programmes feature a panel which routinely comprises, for the most part, journalists from national newspapers.”

    Found it amusing last Sunday Andrew Marr felt the need to mention us (perhaps feeling extra guilty over BBC’s handling of QT audience) during a bit on social care funding in the newspaper review. “The Lib Dems, who aren’t represented here.. ” (‘like EVERY weekend’, I was screaming at the TV) “have pledged more funding for social care”. Briefly, optimistically, I thought the IFS guy was there to stick for us but he didn’t. Anyway, baby steps. Jo’s interview later was very good at least.

    Intrigued to see if FT can bring themselves to endorse us this election or whether their views on Corbyn push them into Tory hands again.

  • The Guardian is so Labour leaning, that it’s spent the best part of the last 10 years attacking every non-centrist leader. Miliband and Corbyn have had permanent targets painted on their backs, while the likes of Cooper, Harman and Jess Philips get a nice easy ride and all the columns they can write.

  • I still turn to the Guardian for John Crace (Parliamentary sketch writer). In the Alice Through the Looking Glass world of current British politics, his take on things relieves the pain a little.

  • Bruce Standing 26th Nov '19 - 7:04pm

    I recall Jo Grimond saying (at, I think, the 1961 Liberal Assembly in Edinburgh) that the Guardian was Conservative in layout and Socialist in outlook.

  • nigel hunter 26th Nov '19 - 7:10pm

    In that ‘I’ article she shows her anger. I put it to the jury that she should therefore vote LibDem THE ONLY PARTY THAT WANTS TO STOP IT IMMEDIATELY. Labou toyed with the idea of a bedroom tax in 2001 AND introduced the ‘Student Tax’ AND raised the amount . i did read the ‘I’ but am now steering towards THE NEW EUROPEAN,pricy but full of pro EU remain articles. Whilst’ Sainsbury’s stock it Morrisons has all the usual on display but mike local when I asked for it said they do not stock it COS THEY SAID IT WAS TOO POLITICAL!! What a laugh.

  • Richard Underhill 26th Nov '19 - 7:23pm

    “I no longer pay for any newspaper”. Most of the newspapers are free from Waitrose, except the Financial Times and one of the local rags. The free local one is better.
    The Independent at launch was a good paper and profitable because its competitors were so old fashioned. Changing technology changed all these papers, even making more frequent editions possible as they compete with electronic media such as television and radio. Overnight sporting reports from the Antipodes, political demonstrations in Hong Kong, etcetera.
    The I was a good idea, but depended on the Independent continuing to be financially viable.
    My local Waitrose also has free parking for 2 hours and free coffee. It sells cups.

  • I agree the Guardian, and to some extent the Independent now, are going for left-wing popularism. The Guardian was my moral compass but I struggle with it now. It seems to mirror The Telegraph move to unashamedly party rag. Today both Guardian and Independent are carrying critical stories about Lib Dem campaign newspapers of the type that’s been commonly used as far back as I can remember. I think people know what their local newspaper is actually called. I guess I’ll just get me news from Reuters then!?

  • Richard Underhill 26th Nov '19 - 7:34pm

    nigel hunter 26th Nov ’19 – 7:10pm
    I forgot the European which I used to see free at work. The late Robert Maxwell came from Czechoslovakia and tried to provide a paper as Murdoch had the Australian. They had a scoop when Hungary opened the Iron Curtain to tourists from central European countries wishing to enter Austria en route to West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Hungarian refugees had fled across the Austrian border in 1956 after the Allied Powers had negotiated the peaceful withdrawal of Soviet forces from eastern Austria in 1955. Austria decided its own neutrality in the Austrian parliament, denying any sort of a deal with Moscow, but abstaining from NATO

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Nov '19 - 9:12pm

    It was the vicious, sneering attack of the Guardian sketch-writer John Crace on Jo when she launched our Manifesto which finally made me determined to stop buying the Guardian almost every day. But then I read an article in the same November 21 edition by Martin Kettle, and remembered that there are a couple of columnists writing for the paper that I should miss if I gave it up entirely. Michael Meadowcroft is however absolutely right in his conclusions, and it’s a shame that his protests to the paper have been disregarded. One wonders how the paper’s editor can ignore the leftward lurch, vicious infighting and authoritarian stances in the Labour party which are ably highlighted by the Times columnists Matthew Parris and Rachel Sylvester.

  • Not only have I decided to give up on The Guardian. I’ve also decided to give up on the David Raw. Both are hopelessly myopic. Both quite happily slag off the Liberal Democrats at every opportunity. Both have lost all credibility as credible sources of liberalism, fairness and openness to what the Liberal Democrats are trying to do. Both claim a history of liberalism to defend their current attacks. Such a shame after many years of reading both.

  • Don’t forget the Independent and the New European. We need many more like that, to counter the total dominance of the right wing press. If we had more centrist newspapers like other countries, Brexit would never had happened. And these centrist newspapers need to back one another up, speaking with one voice like the redtop tabloids do.

  • There are some myths in this thread and article some of which I have shared.

    Firstly (from memory) we did not promise in our 2010 manifesto to abolish tuition fees in the subsequent parliament. We had a costed proposal to start to reduce fees. We also got into the wrong position of increasing them to £9k rather than £7k. I am far from convinced that for most courses they cost double the cost of secondary education.

    My view is that we borrow as taxpayers for university education only we do it individually. We should do it collectively. Not everyone does A levels but we don’t ask people to borrow for them.

    We should offer all adults £21k to spend on post 18 education to spend how they wish – for example a full degree over 2 years with £7k left over. I haven’t looked at the detail but I think the skills wallet does go some way towards this.

    But tuition fees is one of Lynton Crosby’s “barnacles” that we should have scraped off the boat. If we had we’d be doing better in this election.

    I have recently read David laws and Andrew adonis’s accounts of the negotiations. Neither are totally reliable witnesses. Adonis was probably the most pro coalition senior Labour figure having been a lib dem. But he publishes a draft policy agreement with Labour that was never put to the party and went further on things like a PR option on the AV referendum etc.

    It is clear that laws et al were massively keen to do a deal with the Tories and angled things that way.

    On the numbers it was obv. more difficult with Labour but the SNP would have had to watch putting the Tories in power and the DUP were not friends with the Tories at the time because the Tories had started to stand candidates in Northern Ireland.

    A tighter situation would have meant that our backbench vote could in extremis out voted the payroll vote and saved us from a few disasters such as… um… tuition fees.

  • Tony Greaves 26th Nov '19 - 10:28pm

    Today’s Guardian is no better and resulted in Heather phoning them to cancel her small DD donation. It is also a very stupid position for them to take since they don’t have to be 100% full of Liberal/Liberal Democrats articles to get subs from a lot of us. Just fair. Instead we are again getting a load of Labour trash propaganda. I cancelled (did not renew) the sub I pay to have a daily copy delivered at the last General Election in 2017 in protest against their editorial telling people to vote Labour in every seat, regardless of the local circumstances. Then I realised it was costing me more to pay the full price so I got a cheap sub again. Every week I get a message as a “Supporter” which annoys me because I am no such thing. As for the ridiculous piece by Rhiannon Lucy Coslett which sparked off Michael’s letter above, I went through it to identify any quote evidence that the Coalition had ruined her 20s. Not one I could find. I was going to write as well but something cropped up…

  • Interesting to see, which media will endorse Liberal Democrats in this election. Any guesses?

    I have noticed, that the Financial Times and Evening Standard have been quite sympathetic towards Lib Dems.

  • Mick Scholes 26th Nov '19 - 10:59pm

    Tap up Lord Heseltine and Nicola Horlick for a few quid and buy the Telegraph or the Express and convert to a radical, (left of) centre-ist daily paper. Alistair Campbell and Caron as joint editors, Vince as business editor, Nick can do the on-line stuff from California, Lembit pop-music, Mike Brierley & Gary Lineker as sports bods, and Alistair Carmichael the weekend drinks column. Xmas crossword to always contain the word “Orpington”. Change the name to the Manchester Express just to rub it in and promote HS2. Print on a Riso. What is there not to like?

  • “Firstly (from memory) we did not promise in our 2010 manifesto to abolish tuition fees in the subsequent parliament.”

    If only there was some easy system by which you could retrieve past manifestos 🙂

    ‘We will:
    Scrap unfair university tuition fees for all students taking their first degree, including those studying part-time, saving them over £10,000 each. We have a financially responsible plan to phase fees out over six years, so that the change is affordable even in these difficult economic times, and without cutting university income. We will immediately scrap fees for final year students.’
    Page 39

  • @Martin

    Sort of true and sort of not. What she says is:

    A year later, I graduated into a recession with more than £30,000 in student debt – peanuts, of course, compared with the debts faced by today’s students – but it was still intimidating.


    She seems to be saying bad under Blair and new Labour who … um… broke their promise on tuition fees… worse under the coalition.

    I am sure when we are all in our dotage or beyond we will be discussing tuition fees… And as I have commented before it is close to a graduate tax.

    However whether it was the right or wrong thing to do – the one thing you should do is back your own supporter base which Labour and the Tories do and for us that was university towns and cities and students and the concerned often public sector middle class. It shouldn’t have been rocket science – but it seems it was to clegg – that tripling tuition fees would cost us seat after seat!

    I also think having read laws and Adonis’s books that a deal was possible and doable with Labour in 2010 but laws and clegg were very set against it and Michael meadowcroft is wrong to say it wasn’t. Of course just because one course of events worked out badly doesn’t mean to say that another wouldn’t have. Personally I think it would have been better but there’s a valid argument to say that the Tories would have done even better in 2014/15.

    But who knows if the “many world’s” interpretation of quantum physics is right someone somewhere is having the opposite argument!!!!

  • Just a minor technical point about an alternative reality 2010 coalition; Labour and Lib Dems didn’t have majority in the 2010 parliament, so they would have needed the backing of at least three small parties, and even then the majority would have been razor thin.

    Probably there were things that could have been done differently, but I don’t believe that a Lab-Lib coalition would have worked with those numbers.

  • @ hywel

    Thanks. I was wrong! I am always wrong when I don’t look things up! The slight point which I misremembered was that this was over 2 parliamentary terms.

  • @patrick

    Labour and the lib Dems had 310 seats (258 + 57)

    A majority is 325. But there are (effectively) 2 Tory speakers / deputy speakers plus sinnn fein who don’t take their seats – there was also an alliance party of ni MP.

    Browns feeling as related in Adonis’s book is that the “numbers” did work and actually on reflection I think he was right – particularly as the DUP had fallen out with the Tories at the time and bunging them a few billion seems to work!

    I actually think parliament (and government) work better if they have to work to get something through.

    A fatal flaw was that our backbenchers couldn’t outvote the payroll vote and sometimes those pesky backbenchers do actually know a thing or two and what is happening in the constituencies as opposed to the ministerial limo

  • That should of course be 315 seats!

  • @Michael 1 still, even with the support of the DUP and the Alliance Party, the majority would have been razor thin, and we’ve seen recently, where that might lead.

  • John Marriott 27th Nov '19 - 8:04am

    I think that, by 2010, the Labour Party had had enough. It wanted out, just as I reckon, deep down, the Tory Party had in 1997. Don’t forget the ‘note’ that outgoing Liam Byrne left for an incoming David Laws. The former’s faux apologetic attitude was not unlike that of an outgoing Reggie Maudling to the incoming Jim Callaghan back in 1964. As someone said elsewhere on LDV, whenever the coalition raises its battered head, it feels a bit like Groundhog Day!

  • Doug Chisholm 27th Nov '19 - 8:09am

    Great article by Michael Meadowcroft – it is so sad tha the Guardian has just become Labour propoganda (while still decrying the “right wing” press). Rhiannon Lucy Coslett piece was a new low.

  • Doug Chisholm 27th Nov '19 - 8:20am

    The wailing from the hard left and the Guardian mouthpiece does remind me of (Churchill? quote) “thousands of people who never under any circumstances voted Liberal before are saying that under no circumstances will they ever vote Liberal again”

  • Tony Greaves 27th Nov '19 - 9:28am

    It is not “wailing” it is a deliberate and organised plan to attack the Liberal Democrats because we were taking a big chunk of the Labour vote. The irony is that the collapse in our vote in some of the polls is only likely to help the Tories win an overall majority. But as some people have suggested, it may be that the Labour campaign is aimed not so much at winning the election but at wining the post-election battle within the Labour Party.
    (The article by George Monbiot in today’s Guardian is another case in point – has he ever read our climate crisis policy paper agreed at the conference this year which is probably the best practical plan from any party? Does he know it exists?)

  • David Raw. At least I don’t spend my time attacking the party at every turn. Any criticisms I make are done privately to the leaders or officers of the party.
    And, unlike you, I think I can recognise when I’m wrong or recognising when the party gets things right.
    I will not be responding to you in the future, because I am confident I’m wasting my time.

  • Laurence Cox 27th Nov '19 - 10:38am

    I should add to Hywel’s point above about tuition fees that Wikipedia has downloadable pdfs of the more recent Tory, Labour and Lib Dem manifestos and there are links to other web sites with older manifestos.

    e.g. (manifestos from 2005 onwards)

    and (manifestos from 1900-2001 inclusive)

  • @ Mick Taylor. Well that’s a pity, Mick, because I usually agree with the policy points and stances that you take.

  • Peter Watson 27th Nov '19 - 11:24am

    @Tony Greaves “has he ever read our climate crisis policy paper agreed at the conference this year which is probably the best practical plan from any party? Does he know it exists?”
    Excellent question. Does anybody outside the Lib Dem bubble (or even inside it!) really know much about a lot of Lib Dem policies apart from opposition to Brexit, and if not, whose fault is that?
    For example, I can look at recent Lib Dem conference records and learn that members have voted for education policy that “ensures that selection in admissions on the basis of religion or belief to state-funded schools is phased out over up to six years” and that “calls on the government to abandon the selection by ability and social separation of young people, into different schools”. But I would not know that by reading the last two party manifestos or listening to Lib Dem MPs in the last three years, so how can I even know that those things are Lib Dem policy?

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Nov '19 - 11:32am

    Geoffrey Payne

    The big picture issue that we got wrong during the Coalition was that we agreed with George Osborne’s austerity budgets.

    Did we?

    Why is it that everyone describes the Coalition as if all of us in the party were enthusiastic supporters of everything it did?

    It was a coalition which was five-sixths Conservative and one-sixth Liberal Democrat. But the way it it is being described, with what Geoffrey Payne has written being an example, suggests that a government that was 100% Liberal Democrat would have done exactly the same.

    Were we in a position to get the Conservatives to completely change their policies and become Liberal Democrats in what they did? No. There was no other stable government that could be formed, and Labour gave us no support whatsoever if we did try and challenge the Conservatives. So all we were really able to to was work inside to change things very slightly when there was a fairly even balance in the Conservative Party itself so we could then switch things a bit.

    The Coalition government made appalling cuts, but there was no way we could have got the Conservatives to agree to higher taxation to avoid that. If we had insisted on it paying a lot more money directly to continue subsidising universities, that would have had to be paid for by even bigger cuts. And massive cuts in universities as well, to keep down the costs.

    So, agreeing to the tuition fee system, and concentrating on enabling all students to get a loan that didn’t need to be paid off until they earnt enough to do so, was maybe the best we could do. But we needed to state that clearly, if not during the Coalition then afterwards.

    So why has that not been done? Why have we not made it clear that the Coalition was five-sixths Conservative and its policies reflected that? Why have we not pointed out that things would have been very different if the balance of the parties reflected the share of votes, as would have been the case if there has been proportional representation?

  • “Not only have I decided to give up on The Guardian. I’ve also decided to give up on the David Raw. Both are hopelessly myopic.”

    Pots and kettles! The Lib Dems have messed up once again. They have done that because of their own hopeless myopia. When someone points out that what they are doing is a mistake, they stop reading and shoot the messenger. They were warned in good time that Revoke was a mistake, that Prime Minister Swinson was a mistake, that a Johnson Election rather than a People’s Vote was a mistake. They didn’t listen. Now they want to blame a scapegoat, like the Guardian. Poor show.

  • John Wright 27th Nov '19 - 1:01pm

    I completely agree with what is said here about Owen Jones. Rather in the way I swiftly change channels if I see Isobel Oakeshott or Melanie Philipps (or anyone of that ilk) on the Question Time panel rather than have my blood boil, I don’t read his ‘columns’. Describing him as a ‘vile polemicist’ is actually bang on and employing him as a ‘columnist’ is no different to Ian Dale or even Farage having a radio show. I imagine he is probably preaching to the converted but while the Guardian ought to be critically, if factually, anti-Tory, Viner’s editoship seems to have taken the paper in ways Peter preston and Alan Rusbridger must be utterly dismayed by. Having said that I will read Martin Kettle and other columnists, and certainly there are still a few writers who are positive about the Lib Dems.

  • Matthew Huntbach – “Were we in a position to get the Conservatives to completely change their policies and become Liberal Democrats in what they did? No. There was no other stable government that could be formed, and Labour gave us no support whatsoever if we did try and challenge the Conservatives” – what should we have done? Play politics, forcing the Tories to govern in a minority government. Then theywould have called a snap election and likely got a majority. Such a majority Tory government with their full-blown austerity agenda would have been as popular as Trump in California after 5 years of 100% Tory austerity (not to mention that a Brexit vote might have happened during that period under a Tory majority). You know, that would have been our chance to kill them off. And if Labour still nominated Corbyn in that scenario then we would have won. This is alternate history territory but anyway, we had a chance and we blew it away.

  • @ Tim Hill The hopeless myopia is with the folk who have not read or even taken note of Professor Philip Alston’s UN Report on Poverty in the UK….. either because they can’t be bothered or they feel embarrassed about the results or don’t think this is an outcome of austerity.

    I gather in Bedford the Trussell Trust Foodbank has fed 7,433 people in the last twelve months (identified through 180 referral agencies in the community) and given out 3,508 food parcels in the last twelve months.

    Now, why do you think that is and does it bother you ?

  • John Marriott 27th Nov '19 - 2:35pm

    @David Raw
    Don’t worry about Messrs Taylor and Hill. Carry on telling it as you see it. I certainly will. As Corporal Jones famously said; “They don’t like it up ‘em, do they, Captain Mainwaring”!

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    Pretty much any time the coalition is mentioned the Lib Dem response is “we were only a small part of it, we held them back from extreme stuff, and we got a few good things of our own through” … the Lib Dems have said it repeatedly, the voters have heard it repeatedly … saying it again won’t help.

    It’s not that any of it isn’t true in isolation. It’s just that voters who want “not Conservatives” have plenty of other alternatives to vote for, and people who want “Conservatives” don’t want the Lib Dems holding them back … so it only really appeals to people who want “Conservatives but not quite as much”.

    That is a demographic that might be crucial in this election, and if the Conservatives are denied a majority it will be because the Lib Dems managed to attract those voters in key seats – but it’s a narrow appeal and will never win a majority in its own right.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Nov '19 - 3:38pm


    what should we have done? Play politics, forcing the Tories to govern in a minority government. Then they would have called a snap election and likely got a majority.

    Sure, I think you are right. That’s what would have happened had the Coalition not been formed. The Conservatives and Labour would have blamed the Liberal Democrats for it not being possible to form a stable government, and then any problems that occurred would have been said all due to the LibDems. Obviously, the Conservatives would have avoided making any cuts until they and Labour had worked together to get rid of us in the next general election called no more than a year later. Then they would have run their own government as a majority, without the minor things that the LibDems were able to get.

    So that’s the main difference between what the LibDems did and what Labour did. Labour want an electoral system that boosts the Conservatives and gives them a majority when they don’t have majority support. And it looks like Labour will get what they want this time.

    Ok, so maybe not trying to have a minor influence in what was still mostly a Conservative government, thanks to the disproportional representation system, would have been better in the long term. But in the short term would that have looked good?

    Anyway, we did form a coalition, and we can’t turn the clock back. So I think we have to work on the basis of what happened, and say that we were forced to agree with what the people voted for, and made clear they supported when they rejected electoral reform in the referendum they had – an essentially Conservative government in which our say would represent our portion of it – one-sixth. I.e. what happened was not what would have happened had a government with a much bigger proportion of Liberal Democrats been formed.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Nov '19 - 3:51pm


    so it only really appeals to people who want “Conservatives but not quite as much”.

    Why should that be? Have we ever suggested that we would prefer a coalition with the Conservatives rather than Labour? If that is what is believed, and I am sorry to say I think it is, I think we should make it clear it is not so.

    We had a clear defence of what happened in the Coalition – we had no choice because it was the only stable government that could be formed. Thanks to the electoral system supported by Labour but not by us, there were not enough Labour MPs to make a Labour-LibDem coalition viable. And, when we tried to get a referendum to change things a bit, people voted against electoral reform, and so in effect stating they were happy to see the Tories pushed up like that.

    You say the LibDem response is “we were only a small part” etc. Well, that’s not coming across, as I still read everywhere comments on us suggesting we were keen supporters of everything the Coalition did, and I don’t recall at any time our Leader (present or past) stating clearly that was not the case.

  • Matthew Huntbach – “Obviously, the Conservatives would have avoided making any cuts until they and Labour had worked together to get rid of us in the next general election called no more than a year later. Then they would have run their own government as a majority, without the minor things that the LibDems were able to get.” – but what they would have done after obtaining a majority from a snap election in say, 2011 or 2012, would have destroyed them 5 years after that, and by that time, let’s say 2016 or 2017, we would have had a free ride on attacking Tory austerity and well, the “Labour caused GFC” card, while not really true, would have been still on table in this scenario. If you follows Canadian politics, you can see what happened to Harper in 2015 (well, sometimes seeing the Tories being annihilated is good enough for me).

  • Before talking about Corbyn and Labour anti-semitism, don’t forget about the whole Boris Johnson-Taki Theodoracopulos (the latter is an out-and-out white supremacist) debacle. Racism from both must be denounced, not just Corbyn and Labour’s supposed anti-semitism.

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    “we had no choice because it was the only stable government that could be formed.”

    That statement intrinsically prioritises “a stable government” above the actual policies it implements. But most non-Conservative voters would I think prefer “unstable Conservative government” to “stable mostly Conservative government” because it can do fewer Conservative things and might collapse early. The “stable government is more important than what it does” vote is both not large and probably just votes Conservative as the most likely option for majority government anyway.

    “Well, that’s not coming across, as I still read everywhere comments on us suggesting we were keen supporters of everything the Coalition did”

    Some people will take voting for every coalition Act of Parliament in that way, yes. The Lib Dems didn’t have the votes to dictate much of the Coalition’s programme. But they did have the votes to stop any individual bit of it. Every single time, the decision was taken to carry on with the Coalition. Keen or not I don’t think matters – they don’t count reluctant and keen votes differently.

    Pointing out that only 1/6th of the Coalition policies were Lib Dem if anything makes that worse, because it means you backed all the Conservative policies up – not that they were particularly labelled as “from the Conservatives” or “from the Lib Dems” – and barely got anything in return for it. Except for a stable government, which passed policies the anti-coalition voters hated.

    My point is that people don’t dislike the Lib Dem’s participation in the coalition because the reasons for doing it haven’t been explained enough, but because they disliked the coalition and the mostly Conservative policies it passed, and “but we had a really good reason for taking actions which made your life worse” doesn’t really win votes.

  • @ John Marriott Many thanks, John. Far too many Private Pikes these days, and the party seems to be cultivating a profusion of them.

    Oddly enough rarely buy a paper Guardian these days, just read the website. Having said that I wonder at the fraying wisdom of some old enough to know better who want to dismantle the BBC and abandon the printed media to right wing rags owned by off shore and foreign tax dodgers. They make Samson pulling down the temple look like giants of the enlightenment.

    Hope they didn’t watch Politics Live at lunchtime where ‘Revoke’ was going down like a lead balloon in Cornwall.

  • Paul Holmes 27th Nov '19 - 5:38pm

    Thomas/Matthew – why would a follow on election later in 2010 automatically have resulted in a Cons majority and the Lib Dems being punished?

    The only ‘modern’ precedent of the last half a century was in 1974. After the Feb 1974 election produced a ‘Hung Parliament’ Ted Heath wanted a Coalition with the Liberal Party. Jeremy Thorpe was keen ( he rather liked the idea of being Home Secretary) but the Liberal Party wisely insisted that if Heath refused to introduce PR there could be no Coalition. Harold Wilson than ran a minority Labour Govt for a few months and held a snap election in Oct 1974. Labour won a very small majority which soon dwindled and disappeared with by election losses. The Liberal Party suffered a small drop in seats -but certainly not remotely the near annihilation of 2015 or for that matter of 1970.

    Just because the electoral arithmetic means a Coalition COULD be formed does not mean it HAS to be formed. There are options:
    1. A full blown disastrous Rose Garden love in as in 2010.
    2. A more sceptical Coalition as in the highly successful 8 years in Coalition with Labour in the Scottish Parliament.
    3. Various degrees of Confidence and Supply such as the Lib Lab Pact of the later 1970’s or the DUP support of May’s Government.
    4. If the terms are wrong just say no rather than sacrifice key principles and policies!

    Any of 2, 3 or 4 would have been better than the 2010 option our Leaders went for. And before someone goes on about the crisis and how we nobly saved the nation let’s just remember the state of the country in Heath’s ‘Who Governs the Country?’ Feb 1974 election – Miners strike, violent secondary picketing, rotating power blackouts, three day weeks, inflation rampant, economy tanking.

  • Yousuf Farah 27th Nov '19 - 6:14pm

    The Guardian has no credibility whatsoever, it is nothing more than a pathetic Labour propaganda rag.

  • Yeovil Yokel 27th Nov '19 - 6:29pm

    David Raw, John Marriott, David Allen et al – your persistently negative and snide comments about the Lib Dem campaign strategy are going down like a lead balloon here in South Somerset. Mick Taylor and Tim Hill’s remarks earlier in this thread were correct. Thousands of Lib Dem infantry are fighting a massive ground campaign across the country and we are sacrificing much time, energy and money trying to increase the number of Lib Dem MP’s elected in two weeks’ time. Neither you or we have all the information available to our generals, so to speak, and we have to trust them to pursue the correct strategy. Mistakes will be made and there will be losses as well as gains, and as ground troops we have to accept that there is no such thing as a perfectly-executed campaign.

    Your comments are not only wasted – because they won’t make any difference to what our leaders decide – but they are counter-productive, since they serve only to undermine the fighting spirit of the rest of us. So please try to restrain yourselves for the next fortnight, and then after 22:00 on 12 December you may feel free to reminisce about the Grimond and Ashdown glory days to your hearts’ content.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Nov '19 - 6:42pm

    @ cim

    The Lib Dems didn’t have the votes to dictate much of the Coalition’s programme. But they did have the votes to stop any individual bit of it.

    No, and here is the other issue – people seem to think that government spending and taxation are entirely separate things. So the cuts that the Coalition government made could just have been voted against and that’s it.

    Er, no. It was not just voting against cuts that was needed, it was also getting the Conservatives to support more taxation to pay for it. How were we supposed to do that? Well, either that or more cuts elsewhere. So where should we have suggested shifting the cuts?

    I’m not a supporter of what the Coalition did at all, and I feel that when the Conservatives broke the agreement and insisted on a major top-down re-organisation of the NHS, that is when we should have left. I attended the Liberal Democrat conference where we tried to vote against what Nick Clegg was forcing us to do – and it was clear a majority of those there opposed him, but he managed to get support by pushing the idea our party had moved so far to the right it was pointless to try and stop it.

    Well, that’s when I stopped being an active member of the party, and have never been so since. So please don’t respond to me as if I am.

    The point I am making now is that we can’t turn the clock back, so we have to explain thins in terms of what actually happened. I think we should make clear we were not in a position to get the Conservatives to drop their main policies and support ours instead. When people like you keep saying things like you’re saying, you are suggesting we could have got that done, and that’s damaging us, and supporting those who want to push us towards being a right-wing economic party that liked most of what the Coalition did.

    It seemed to me right from the start that there was very little we could get out of the Coalition and we should have made that clear from the start. However, I think there is an issue that it is dishonest to support a multi-party system, and then not agree to become part of coalitions that become inevitable when that happens.

  • Paul Holmes 27th Nov '19 - 6:44pm

    Yeovil Yokel.

    I have devoted my time to organising and fighting just about every election locally since 1987 (as a new member on a steep learning curve I just helped out 1983-7). The three sets of elections this year have been no exception.

    However I have never subscribed to the “Ours is not to reason why, ours is just to do or die” school of thought. Frankly I can’t understand that any Liberal would do so.

  • I don’t have a problem with party members criticising the national campaign. I would however like to see a few more messages starting with the words, “When I was knocking on doors today…” or “While out delivering leaflets last night…” or even “As I was writing a cheque to send to my local target seat…” If messages started like that and went on to criticise the national campaign, I would take a lot more note of them than I generally do at the moment.

  • David Allen 27th Nov '19 - 7:58pm

    Yeovil Yokel – Yes, comments now can reasonably be described as too late, unproductive, demoralising, etcetera. However, many of us made these comments much earlier, at a time when they could have been listened to – and they weren’t.

    It’s not just a question of judgment. Yes, arguably those of us who thought that sticking with “People’s Vote” rather than switching to “Revoke” were only making a guess about what line would best appeal to the public, and nobody could have known for certain that we were going to be proved right.

    But – The Revoke line was thrust onto the Party with a deliberately minimal level of consultation. The leadership team had made their minds up, and that was that. Listening to ordinary members, it seems, is not the new Lib Dem way. Well, it doesn’t work!

  • @ Y. Yokel : “Neither you or we have all the information available to our generals, so to speak, and we have to trust them to pursue the correct strategy.”

    I seem to recall that’s been said before on 25 September, 1915, 1 July, 1916 and 31 July, 1917.

    I’m also sorry if my brand of radical Liberalism (on which I campaigned relatively successfully, winning five times) has caused any offence. We sought to support the underprivileged, the disadvantaged and had slogans such as, ‘People who think for themselves vote Liberal’ and ‘People Count’ . Maybe it’s no longer fashionable, but it’s not just winning it’s what you do when you win.

    David Allen’s point about Revoke has force. Time will tell..

  • Matthew Huntbach,

    There is no rule that a Coalition government will enact policies in proportion to the percentages of the MPs in each party within the government.

    The leadership of the party made a big mistake on signing up to the Conservative economic policy of austerity starting straight away. If you are correct and a minority Conservative government would not have made the 2010 cuts and increased VAT, then it would have been possible for the Coalition government to have done the same.

    I have calculated that increasing the Personal Allowance from £6475 to £10,600 cost about £24.6 billion. According to the OBR the benefits cuts of 2010-15 are valued at about £21 billion in the year 2015-16.

    There is no defence for what we did in the Coalition government. We have to move on and part of this should be to reverse austerity, especially as it is generally accepted austerity was the wrong economic policy. The Tories are talking about increasing police numbers to their 2010 level.

    I hope that if we state that the cuts we made in government were wrong and we now want to reverse them we can appeal to our traditional supporter base on the left of the political spectrum.

  • John Marriott 27th Nov '19 - 10:32pm

    @Yeovil Yokel
    I’m sorry if you find some of the comments from those of us who have been part of many campaigns, both locally and nationally, over the years annoying. I assume that it’s our criticism of the ‘Revoke Strategy’ that really irks you. Your likening the campaign to warfare is interesting. I would narrow it down to WW1, with the ‘Generals’ safely ensconced in their chateau many miles from the front, happy to draw up plans to send more and more troops over the top. I’m sure that hundreds of party members and volunteers are working their socks off. However it’s the message, not the messengers that needs a revamp before it’s too late this time. How many of the ‘enemy’, other than the usual suspects, dip into LDV anyway?

  • To be honest, although it sounds like “putting party over country” (which honestly I have no problem with), I would be extremely happy had the Tories won the 2010 election with a majority, because they would have been absolutely annihilated 5 years after that.

  • Bob Robinson 28th Nov '19 - 7:20am

    “If you only read one newspaper read the one published by the Opposition” As long as the Guardian can sustain its free to air model – I suggest that you read it. One of the first lessons that officer cadets are taught is that “Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted” Can I commend “Conservative Home” and “Labour List” for the same reason.

    Only read “The Spectator” if you read the “New Statesman” and vice versa, “Unherd” is a useful provocation whilst “Spiked” gives Old Marxists something to do.

    Finally in trouble or in doubt either “run in circles, scream and shout” or else read “The Economist” Fifty years ago, In the first lecture of my Economics degree – I was told to ask two questions
    1: Why are “you” telling me this?
    2: What relevance does it have to the real world.


  • Matthew Huntbach 28th Nov '19 - 11:15am

    Michael BG

    If you are correct and a minority Conservative government would not have made the 2010 cuts and increased VAT, then it would have been possible for the Coalition government to have done the same.

    You have missed my point.

    A minority Conservative government would have not made the 2010 cuts and increased VAT only for the short time before the next general election it would have called. Sure, any government can put off doing necessary but unpopular things for a short time. This is how a minority government would work in order to get a majority at the general election called a short time later.

    The Coalition government, however, was not a short time government putting off necessary but difficult decisions. So, no, it could not indefinitely neither put up taxes nor make cuts, as you are suggesting. The issue is that government has to find a way of paying for what it does. Oh, sure, it can just borrow and print money, but that also has its long term problems, so it can’t just be done forever, which is what you are actually suggesting when you say the Coalition could have carried on for five years what a short term minority government would do in the few months before it called the next general election.

    You and others continue to suggest that somehow the Liberal Democrats could have got the Conservatives to drop their main policy of keeping taxes down. By doing so, you are just damaging the Liberal Democrats, and supporting those who have pushed them to the right.

  • Matthew Huntbach 28th Nov '19 - 11:15am

    @ Michael BG

    On your point about Personal Allowance, yes, I agree. Cutting taxes and having to pay for that by cutting benefits was wrong. The LibDem manifesto for 2010 did say it would increase personal allowance for income tax, but would pay for that not by government spending cuts but by increasing other taxation. Given the way in which owning or not owning property is one of the biggest things pushing inequality and reducing freedom (for all those who cannot afford housing), I think that’s a good thing. However, the right-wing leadership of the LibDems missed out this balancing aspect when they went on about us supporting income tax cuts at the end of the Coalition, and I was appalled by that and it was one of the reasons I did not get actively re-involved in the party again.

    I can, however, see that getting the Conservatives to support that tax cut rather than a tax cut that favoured just more wealthy people may have been an achievement in the Coalition, an example of what it means: you don’t get everything you want, but you might shift things a bit to make it slightly more like what you want.

  • Matthew Huntbach,

    I was making two points.

    Austerity was the wrong policy in 2010 and the Liberal Democrats should not have accepted the Conservative economic policy of spending cuts straight away and putting VAT up. I accept that it would have been impossible to get the Conservatives to accept our economic policy of a fiscal stimulus in 2010 continuing until the economy was strong enough to take retrenchment. Trying to come up with an economic policy for the Coalition should have meant compromise on both sides and not us accepting the Conservative economic policy.

    Secondly, I am saying there is nothing we can say to defend our mistake of accepting austerity and the Conservative economic policy. With hindsight most economists accept it was the wrong policy in 2010 and governments should have followed a more Keynesian economic policy to continue assisting with economic growth. There is nothing we can say to defend the benefit cuts of the Coalition. None of our MPs should have accepted that the poorest in society should have born any hardship for our economic situation. What we should do now is accept we were wrong along with lots of economists and state how we are going to reverse austerity including restoring real incomes for those on benefits to their 2010 levels.

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th Nov '19 - 4:42pm

    Michael BG

    The economic policy is the main thing the government is about, and keeping taxes down at the cost of having to make cuts in government spending is the main thing the Conservatives are about.

    So, again, as I keep saying, the main issue here is that you are suggesting the Liberal Democrats could have got the Conservatives to drop their main policy and become more like the Liberal Democrats.

    We were not in a position to force the Conservatives to do this. We have been damaged ever since by people keep suggesting we could have done and we just decided not to. Of course, we have also been damaged by the leadership of the Liberal Democrats then, who gave the impression that we supported everything the Coalition did rather than reluctantly accepted it, and the leadership ever since, including now, who have done nothing to counter that.

    How do you know that what happened was not a compromise, and the Conservatives would have been even more extreme right-wing in their economics had the Coalition not been formed? In reality, given what Conservatives were saying between themselves during the Coalition, this does seem to be the case.

    Whatever, it happened, and as I keep saying, we need to make clear that the Coalition was not our ideal. We need to state that with proportional representation, we would have had a much bigger share in the Coalition, and the alternative coalition would have been viable, so we would have been able to get a compromise much closer to what we would really want.

    Why is it that people like you criticise me when I say that rather than support me? By doing that, I think you are in reality supporting the way our party has been pushed to the right.

  • Matthew Huntbach,

    How do you know that what happened was not a compromise”

    Because I have read David Laws’ book “22 days in May” where he states we not only accepted the Conservative economic policy but in the negotiations with the Labour Party wanted them to accept the Conservative economic policy too. During the Coalition the leadership got motions passed at conference to support the Conservative economic policy.

    We claim we stopped some Conservative policies, if true (and I think this likely) then we could have stopped others including the implementation of the Conservative economic policy before the economy was strong enough to cope with it. After it was reported we had a double-dip recession in 2011-12 the Conservative economic policy was moderated.

    Until we accept that we were wrong to support the Conservative economic policy in 2010; it is possible that we could do the same in the future. We need to make it clear austerity was the wrong policy and we would never support austerity again in the same circumstances and that we believe that when there is low growth and high unemployment fiscal policy should be used to generate demand in the economy with an aim of getting economic growth close to 3% but not above 3%.

    I am not supporting the party’s move to the right; I am trying to get the party to accept it happened and we need to reverse it.

  • Matthew Huntbach,

    (Sorry about my last comment being all in italics.) In David Laws’ book the Conservatives state they couldn’t support a referendum on AV Act, but they gave in to get us into coalition with them. Therefore your assertion that the Conservatives wouldn’t have tempered their economic policy is incorrect. They also were prepared for more tax rises than in their manifesto. I think you should read David Laws’ book.

  • @ Michael BG And it wasn’t just Conservative economic policy – it was Conservative dogma on the part-privatisation of the probation service and the financial cuts to that service yesterday in 2012…….. no doubt which will come under scrutiny after the tragic and awful event yesterday.

  • Correction….. delete first use of word yesterday in post above.

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Dec '19 - 7:17pm

    Michael BG

    The AV system is not proportional representation. There is nothing at all proportional about it, it still means that those who are a minority in their area get no representation. All AV does is stop the problem where you feel forced to vote for a candidate who is not your first choice for fear that voting for your first choice means your second choice loses and a candidate you dislike wins.

    What we really want is proportional representation, so that everyone does get a representative. That was one of the main reasons I started supporting the Liberal Party, because disproportional representation means, and still means, that the sort of people I grew up with – working class southerners – get no representatives, so everyone else thinks we don’t even exist.

    So, the fact that the Conservatives only agreed to have a referendum on AV rather than on what we really wanted, is, actually, a very good example of how we were forced to compromise and could only get something very limited and far from our ideal out of the Coalition.

    Therefore we should have come out loud and clear – and we could still do that now – to give the AV referendum as an excellent illustration of how a coalition means compromise and getting something which is only a small move towards what you really want.

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Dec '19 - 7:38pm

    Michael BG

    By the way, why do you and everyone else use the word “austerity” to mean a government that wants the rich to live a life of luxury by refusing to consider increasing their taxation?

    To me, that is the exact opposite of what the word austerity really means. It means supporting simple basic life and necessities at the cost of not having luxury. So it seems to me that a true government of austerity would support a big increase on taxation of the rich, on the grounds that you can take money from people once they have enough to pay for necessities.

    And, indeed, it was not long ago, see here, that the 1945-51 Labour government was seen as the austerity government. Was that a government that wanted to make big cuts in state spending in order to support the rich getting richer on the grounds that somehow that would be better for all of us, because the rich are special skilled people who make money for everyone by getting richer? No, it was the opposite.

    So, it seems to me that pushing “austerity” to mean something very different than it used to mean is an example of how there have been people changing language deliberately for right-wing political reasons. It sounds better to call making big cuts “austerity”, as if that is just about stopping unnecessary luxury things.

    Similarly, it seems to me that pushing the word “neoliberalism” to mean what we used to call “Thatcherism” has been done deliberately, to damage us and push the nonsensical idea that the only issue of freedom is lack of government control of anything. The party I joined in the 1970s developed, as the modern Liberal Party, the opposite of that point of view. It was us who pushed the line that we must state “none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity” as what the Liberal Democrats should be all about.

    Sadly, the pushing of language change means people now who were not around when the Liberal Party and the SDP merged tend to think the exact opposite of what was really the case about how the two parties then differed.

  • You know many commentetors on the Guardian are away with the faries, living in cloud cookland when you get an article like this

    Johnson spots an opportunity over state aid – and it may work
    Larry Elliott

    He does row back a bit by saying

    So, yes, Johnson may simply be playing politics. It would not be the first time he has been guilty of opportunism. But his argument that the status quo has not worked in Labour’s heartlands is correct. Which is why it may strike a chord.

    But whern you get the Guardians economic editor basically giving depeffle the benefit of the doubt you really start to think they need to upgrade their journalists to some that at least know faries are mythical.

  • I wonder if those who have kneejerked against The Guardian are going to revise their views when they read the hatchet job by Camilla Long in the Sunday Times yesterday ?

  • Michael Berridge 2nd Dec '19 - 8:28am

    @ Stephen Harte “Every time the box pops up asking for donations, remember the above article.” Just what I was thinking. Sad really. I read the (Manchester) Guardian Weekly for decades in Canada and Germany till 1995. More recently we tried the new magazine-format GW for six months. We let it lapse. There are better sources of news and equally good sources of comment.

  • Matthew Huntbach,

    I agree we should have demanded STV, but we didn’t with the Conservatives but thought about it with the Labour Party.

    According to Wikipedia “Austerity is a set of political-economic policies that aim to reduce government budget deficits through spending cuts, tax increases, or a combination of both” ( Therefore my use of the word ‘austerity’ is correct. In 2010 the government should not have tried to reduce the government budget deficit through spending cuts, tax increases, or a combination of both. Only once economic growth was near to 3% and predicted to stay in that region should small reductions in the deficit take place (less than 0.5% of GDP). Most the deficit reduction should be done by increased government revenue because of economic growth and reduced benefit payments as fewer people need them because they are in work.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Dec '19 - 11:13pm

    Tony Greaves 26th Nov ’19 – 10:28pm
    Have you tried free?
    Have you got a local Waitrose?
    7 days a week they offer the same prices on milk etc as other shops
    bread might be better quality, potatoes cheaper.
    Spend £10 and the partnership will refund any one of most newspapers except FT and car parking charges if any.

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