The human element and the political reality – Vince on Theresa May’s speech

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Well, that speech probably contained everyone’s worst nightmares.

In April this year, just after the election was called, I was one of those recording a podcast made by the excellent Engender Scotland. I ended up having the mother of all coughing fits. Of course, there were half a dozen other wonderful women to hold the fort while I left the room until the spasms subsided.

So I really felt for poor Theresa May today. She was up there on her own at the keynote occasion of the year and the germs took control. I don’t mean Boris and the rest of the Cabinet.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the P45 moment will be to her what that slip up on Brighton Beach was to Neil Kinnock and she won’t get the credit for coping well with the shock of that moment. Of course there wasn’t much of relevance about the real issues of the day. An energy price cap doesn’t really cut it when you’re about to drive the country off a cliff. And it was kind of galling to watch her apologise for the failures of the campaign yet not for the failure to build enough homes over the past 30 or 40 years since her party introduced the right to buy.

I wasn’t the only one to feel a bit of genuine empathy for the Prime Minister. Vince Cable went on Channel 4 News tonight where he showed a bit of solidarity with her as a human being. He then delivered a bit of a killer blow by pointing out, twice, that it was quite incredible that she kept going when she was surrounded by “disloyal and incompetent” colleagues trying to undermine her.

So, a sensible bit of human solidarity combined with a politically astute observation which emphasised the weakness of his opponent.

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

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  • Frances Alexander 4th Oct '17 - 10:26pm

    Spot on, Vince!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 5th Oct '17 - 1:03am


    This in my view one of the best things you have said on here, more than many of your posts containing good liberal sense , or some in which I disagree strongly, here is a really liberal and more than sensible comment.

    And from Sir Vince , everything of why I am keen on him anyway as a person of substance, and more , as a leader .

    What distinctive little extra something that a party like ours must have, is a sense of balance and proportion, or it is not worth bothering with.

    On political issues we could be it and do it more for my liking.

    On personal matters it is essential.

    It really bothers me , the hate particularly from the far left , towards political rivals, but amongst and from Tories too.The bile on social media is but the modern version of an age old nastiness.

    I am not a fan of it, even the oft fabled and quoted Bevan in his description of Tories as “vermin” disgusts me.

    Some on here once took me to task for saying none of the main or other mainstream parties are my enemies , but are our opponents. A subtle difference lost on Liberals not very liberal at times.

    Similarly I hear Theresa May described as cold or odd or as hated .

    At worst she is awkward and out of her depth. Too often she is compared in the minds of some with Thatcher, just because both are women.

    Brown , too, was awkward and as pm , at times, out of his depth.

    That magical , mystery tour of the personalities of the publicly successful, sometimes referred as resulting in the presence or absence of the elusive and unfathomable , thing, charisma , means , May , like Brown, unlike Thatcher , or indeed and of course, Blair, is found wanting.

    As a person I see nothing wrong with her .

    I cannot say the same of her premiership.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 5th Oct '17 - 8:18am

    Caron, I’m glad that you – and Vince – are showing some sympathy for Theresa May.
    It is often forgotten that Theresa May has a serious health condition – type one diabetes, and I feel that she deserves more credit for the way she has overcome this.
    There are far too few politicians with disabilities or serious health conditions. Whatever one thinks of Theresa May’s politics, she has shown, quite admirably, that a serious health condition should be no barrier to holding a demanding job.

  • Charis Croft 5th Oct '17 - 9:20am

    Empathy is a really important attribute, and one that too many in politics lack (or at least, lack publicly). Good to see it being shown by the LibDems.

  • Richard Underhill 5th Oct '17 - 9:33am

    The Tories have a reputation for ruthlessness unmatched by other political parties. Margaret Thatcher was despatched BEFORE the general election she was expected to lose in 1991/2. She became embittered and increasingly Eurosceptic.
    Compare Michael Foot’s refusal to resign after losing the 1983 general election and Kinnock-Hattersley in 1992.
    If they despatch Theresa May because she has a cough they will be a laughing stock.

  • Catherine
    No one overcomes diabetes, it something one manages.

  • Bill le Breton 5th Oct '17 - 10:39am

    Everyday Vince reminds us why it was such a tragedy that he did not feel able to be our leader after holding the fort so well after Ming’s resignation in 2007 and why he should have taken over the reins after the AV referendum and local council results of 2011.

    As Jonathan Calder comments elsewhere, ‘He is a class act’.

    It is easy to see that, had he been our leader in Coalition, austerity would not have been used so ruinously in the service of reducing the size of the state. Recovery would have been earlier and stronger. We would have held many more seats in 2015. The second coalition would NOT have conducted an EU referendum. Ngotiations on EU reform would have been more successful (with Clegg and Duff influential).

    Of course, those who saw this at the time were excluded and crushed. And, so when the UK has the worst Government in three lifetimes and the worst Opposition ever, we don’t even rate a space in the margins of history.

  • William Fowler 5th Oct '17 - 11:32am

    No fan of Mrs May – her only real skill is hanging on to power despite a lack of ideas and ability to analyze the effects of the laws she introduces – but what a load of nonsense on the TV news this morning, totally over-the-top put-downs about the coughing when she actually managed to soldier on reasonably well. She will end up as an anti-hero figure at this rate and yet surprise her critics. The oddest thing about the speech was Boris’s face towards the end, he actually looked enraptured.

  • Nick Collins 5th Oct '17 - 11:44am

    ” The Times”, today, reports that Clegg is advising people to join the Conservative or Labour Parties in order to put pressure on them to change their policies re Brexit and that he is about to join Labour. Is this report true or false?

  • Nick Collins 5th Oct '17 - 12:03pm

    Correction: Apparently Clegg has said that he will not be joining Labour himself (lucky Labour!) although he is advising others to do so.

  • Having virtually destroyed the party electorally Clegg now seems to steer a course to destroy it entirely. What the hell is going on? The man is a loose cannon and a liability.
    Not just May who should go.

  • Neil Sandison 5th Oct '17 - 1:50pm

    Perhaps we should suspend Cleggs membership he has clearly lost the plot or is this just cynically about selling a book .

  • paul barker 5th Oct '17 - 2:29pm

    The story about Clegg is being widely reported, if he wants to deny or clarify it he needs to do so pdq.
    I am not sure if advising people to join another Party is legal grounds for suspension or not but in any case its a bad idea; it would turn a very small story into a very big one.
    People who know Clegg should get on the phone to him & politely suggest that he drop this line or keep quiet about it.

  • Graham Jeffs 5th Oct '17 - 3:19pm

    Mr Clegg has, at best, very poor political instincts. How he can continue to be so naïve after all that has happened, is almost unbelievable. That said, I doubt whether anyone out there is going to take any notice of him.

    His time would be better spent providing measured support and comment in respect of our efforts hopefully supported by facts rather than fantasy.

  • Oh dear, a little cough and suddenly Theresa May is a brave little soldier….Have we forgotten May’s ‘Immigrant Vans’; her dismissal of nurses using food banks; her ignoring the plight of those suffering under the Universal Credit rollout debacle; her calling Layla Moran a liar (in parliamentary terms of course), etc., etc.

    I, for one, have absolutely no sympathy for her plight during the speech; in fact, her cough probably saved it from being an even bigger disaster…Her ‘brave new policies’ were watered down Labour policies on Council Homes, Energy Cap and Organ donor opt outs…

  • Perhaps he could be offered to Labour on a free transfer and when he has done them in them move him to the Tories?

  • Perhaps Clegg has just woken up to the fact that the Liberal Democrats are no longer relevant. I wonder what took him so long?

  • Nick Collins 5th Oct '17 - 4:39pm

    Or he could join David Owen in the club for ex leaders of ex parties .

  • Martin Land 5th Oct '17 - 5:16pm

    Clegg? Liked him in Last of the Summer Wine, not so convincing in his later role as a politican.

  • Richard Easter 5th Oct '17 - 5:23pm

    Clegg (and his brand of corporate liberalism) would be as welcome in Labour, as it would be in UKIP. Labour has just cleansed itself of that ideology.

  • Peter Watson 5th Oct '17 - 5:38pm

    @Nick Collins “Clegg is advising people to join the Conservative or Labour Parties in order to put pressure on them to change their policies re Brexit”
    To be fair to Nick Clegg, I have made exactly the same suggestion on this website.

    I struggle to understand Lib Dems who insist that preventing Brexit is the single-most pressing issue of our time but then tie their hands by trying to use this much-reduced political party as a platform to achieve this. The best that such an approach can manage is likely to be ineffective carping from the sidelines. Surely it would be better to influence the Labour and Conservative parties from the inside as members or from the outside as part of a single-issue pressure group without the baggage of the Lib Dem party.

  • The series of misfortunes the PM endured yesterday have allowed the press to divert the public!s attention away from the real issue, which, as always, is policy. The Tories talk of mending markets so that everyone benefits from economic growth, but I’m not convinced there is an once of substance, nor if they really believe it themselves. And that’s before we get on to the mess that is Brexit. OK, tough luck on T.M., let’s move on to the real stuff.

  • The Clegg comments are on the BBC, Sky News, The Times and other news web sites.
    Apparently it’s in his book to be published next week.

    Selling a book appears to be more important than the damage to this party and that what he says is a betrayal of Vince Cable and the thousands of party members who tread the pavements knocking on doors ?

    Frankly, I despair. Hopeless.

  • One might think that Nick, by his slavish support of Tory policies (NHS reorganisation, Bedroom Tax, Secret Courts, etc.) during the coalition, has done enough to support the Conservative party and drive many LibDems to Labour….The same period showed our loss of hard working local councillors, 9 MEPs and 50 MPs; to say nothing of our loss of trust with the electorate…
    It seems his ‘ghost’ still haunts us…

  • @Peter Watson

    ” Surely it would be better to influence the Labour and Conservative parties from the inside as members or from the outside as part of a single-issue pressure group without the baggage of the Lib Dem party.”

    It would if either party had any intention of listening or changing, they don’t and they won’t. As for joining a pressure group nothing to stop you doing that.

    As to Clegg, he said

    Mr Clegg added: “At a time of national emergency, and for as long as Parliament is dominated by Labour and Conservative MPs, it is undoubtedly true that what happens within the two larger establishment parties is of the greatest importance.

    “So if you can’t stomach joining the Labour Party, if you are ideologically inclined in a Conservative direction in any event and if you also believe that Brexit is the issue of our times, then joining the Conservatives is another route to make your views felt.”

    I can sort of see his logic but to be honest he’s not very good at politics as his time as leader unfortunately shows. He seems to think we are all good chaps and only play the ball, and as we can see they are far from good chaps and believe playing the man is preferable.

  • paul barker 5th Oct '17 - 7:55pm

    On the Clegg comment again, the coverage has been widespread but shallow, no-one is making a fuss of it & the general reaction is bemusement. This is just the sort of story which never gets beyond the chattering classes but it would still be wiser not to go on about it.
    Like a lot of people, Clegg is clearly desperate about Brexit & is coming up with desperate answers. He is utterly wrong though. While any defeat of Brexit will probably involve rebel elements in the 2 Big Parties, they are not going to take action unless they see a substantial Libdem Revival. If we dont recover enough in time then Brexit will go ahead, its as simple & as stark as that.
    Cleggs analysis actually has everything the wrong way round.
    We have been showing some signs of recovery over the last 3 Months, perhaps we will see more tonight.

  • May’s issue isn’t the coughing, or the policies she celebrated as tory triumphs of recent past (arriving via the lib dems), or new policies of the future (watered down versions of labour ideas), but instead that she started her tenure by speaking about the just getting by and has no record of supporting those in her long career and has surrounded herself by a cabinet who don’t believe in the big society….and they are the best of her party. Even so, May’s biggest problem is that her predecessors gambled on the UK’s future for personal and party gain and then left her to pick up the pieces when they “lost”.

    The Tories are out of touch as seen by their membership which reflects only a very few remaining elements of society (think the more backwards golf clubs or Made in Chelsea) and the grassroots which they can fall back on believe Rees-Mogg is not just a good orator but a genuine leadership candidate.

    Yes, we should have sympathy for those in the Tory party who at least talk about supporting the just about getting by, but lets not pretend that this is anything more than a potentially popular political phrase for the vast majority of them.

  • Peter Watson 5th Oct '17 - 8:51pm

    “It would if either party had any intention of listening or changing, they don’t and they won’t.”
    Those parties would have to listen and change if that’s what the majority of their members want, even if those members are entryists (though I suspect a lot of Lib Dems could find enough common cause with members of other political parties for entryism not to be an issue). Lib Dem criticism did not stop Labour members from voting for Jeremy Corbyn as leader (twice) so why should Lib Dem disapproval of his approach to Brexit have any more effect?

    “As for joining a pressure group nothing to stop you doing that.”
    I’m not as vexed by the result of the 2016 Referendum as many claim to be. I’ve seen attempts on this site to shut down discussions on other topics because Brexit overrides everything else and this just seems self-contradictory. If exiting from Brexit is so overwhelmingly important, then fight Brexit from within an organisation (party or pressure group) that can make a difference. Otherwise, take advantage of being in a political party that encompasses a wide range of opinions on a wide range of issues in order to encourage discussions on how Lib Dems can ensure a liberal and democratic future for the UK regardless of the state of EU membership.

  • Katharine Pindar 5th Oct '17 - 9:59pm

    I see it’s ‘knocking Nick’ time on here. The quote from his book was bound to be picked up and seems unfortunate, but he has made positive contributions to the cause of late, such as his interview with a Japanese news outlet which we were able to read on here, and his excellent interview with Andrew Marr on September 24. I feel deeply unimpressed by Bill le Breton’s suggestion that if Vince had been Deputy PM in the Coalition all would have been well, and in any case as has often been truthfully repeated, our Lib Dem ministers in that government did much good and prevented worse harm.

    I can’t sympathise much with Mrs May because she was a heartless Home Secretary, IMO, and shows too little empathy as PM with, either refugees and EU people living here, or with the poor suffering from benefit cuts and changes.

    As to Brexit, our job is surely to convince enough people that it is harmful, so that a demand is created and the major parties give way to it and hold a referendum before March 2019. As Vince has said, the proposed transition period – of whatever duration – is only putting off the hour of decision. We should therefore oppose it as a dangerous delaying tactic, which could leave to us exiting hopelessly despite changing views.

  • John Barrett 5th Oct '17 - 11:12pm

    Sadly Nick Clegg’s track record shows clearly that he has more concern for his own well being than for the damage he has caused to the party.

    He should follow his own advice to others about joining the Labour Party.

  • Ian Patterson 6th Oct '17 - 12:04am

    What is it with Lib Dems with books to flog, Laws last week, Clegg this. Both making ‘unhelpful’ comments.

  • Re Clegg’s comment.
    Joining the Conservative Party is a waste of time. The views of its members are ignored. That is why it doesn’t have many members.
    The new old Labour Party isn’t tolerant of new members who don’t toe the party line so if you want a tirade of abuse go ahead and join.

  • Nick Collins 6th Oct '17 - 9:04am

    And did not Labour, last week , avoid debating Brexit because to do so might have spoilt their displays of unity and adoration of the Corbyn?

  • William Fowler 6th Oct '17 - 9:19am

    Across parties, career politicians have a strong record of being a disaster for the country as all they are interested in is power for the sake of power and we all know what that does…

  • David Evans 6th Oct '17 - 10:10am

    Katharine, at what level of behaviour could you express even mild concern about Nick? Losing 49 MPs – No; losing all but one of our MEPs – No; losing thousands of our councillors – No; losing the trust of over 90% of the people of this county – No; destroying the chances for Liberal democracy for another 50 years – No; and now suggesting people join Labour or the Conservatives – NO!

    This is not ‘knocking Nick’ time, it’s stop him destroying our party and its values. Some of us who had the prescience to look at the facts and not just our hopes and dreams have been trying stop him in his headlong drive towards oblivion for years. Some I fear prefer the comfortable certainty of Hear no evil.

    I hope one day you will realise that these people are fighting for the party and its values and against someone who for whatever reason is destroying it. They need your support.

  • John Barrett 6th Oct '17 - 11:03am

    Well said David, my thoughts exactly.

    Any “ordinary” member behaving in such a way, or having caused as much damage to our party, would have been subject to a move to suspend them and to call them to task to answer for what they have done and what they are doing, and to consider removing him or her from the party, long before now.

    No other individual has caused as much damage to my party in my lifetime, of over 35 years of membership to the Liberal Party and then the Liberal Democrats.

    Sadly, the great and the good in our party continue to say whatever they like, when they like,regardless of the damage done. As long as they get publicity for themselves or the books they are trying to publicise, it appears that saying anything on the media is acceptable.

  • Peter Watson 6th Oct '17 - 12:04pm

    @John Barrett “No other individual has caused as much damage to my party in my lifetime”
    Plenty of Lib Dem members, ex-members and potential voters called for change for a long while and it was more than just that one individual who ignored those calls and brought the party to the position it is now in.

  • Peter Watson
    Someone used the word “naivete” above, and I genuinely feel that over many issues, and in particular the way Nick has always viewed Tories – almost, it would seem as friendly allies – he has an incredible naivete rating. In recognising his considerable understanding of EU workings, and his absolute love for it, we should not lose sight of his naivete, or his associated tendency to be very close to the post 1980 Tories especially in his economic thinking.

    But you are right, without David Laws, and some people still in positions of power in the party he would not have been able to pursue the path he did, for as long as he did. But when all said and done, he WAS the leader, the figurehead, the one seen on TV by the population as a whole, so yes – he has done the most damage.

  • Peter Watson 6th Oct '17 - 1:54pm

    It is too easy to blame only Clegg, Laws, Alexander, etc. at the top of the party.

    On this site over the last several years one can read articles and posts by members with a variety of roles within the party which show, amongst other things, a blinkered approach to the 2015 general election (as well as the 2017 election and the 2016 referendum); the callous dismissal of criticisms of the leadership, the party’s direction, and an orange-hued publication; the lack of a reaction every year to appalling election results at every level of government; the dismissive response to LibDems4Change, etc. etc.

    Even now, there is no consensus on whether the Coalition years were a mistake for either the party or the country, making it difficult to move forwards, though at least opposition to Brexit gives Lib Dem members a cause around which to unite.

  • Nick Collins 6th Oct '17 - 7:04pm

    Getting back to Theresa May and he cough, she now claims to be providing “calm leadership”. Is “calm” the new “strong and stable”?

  • nvelope2003 6th Oct '17 - 8:08pm

    Whatever his failures Clegg boosted the party’s support in the 2010 election and although the 30% forecast in opinion polls did not actually materialise, apparently because younger people did not think it was necessary to actually vote, 57 were gained compared to the 63 seats held previously Thirteen seats were lost to the Conservatives and replaced by eight gains from Labour. A previous by election gain from Labour was also lost. The party had been in the doldrums for several years apart from that by election gain.

    The problem was that many people did not know what they were voting for but wanted a change from Labour. There was a feeling that something had to be done to repair the economy and whoever won the election would almost certainly have done the same things as the Coalition but of course it is one thing to want a cure but quite another when that causes distress or hardship. In the hope of winning Labour of course, like any other party, put forward some softer plans but would probably not have implemented them if they had won.

    The Liberal Democrats were not prepared for Government but having been out of power for 80 years apart from the war time coalition they did not wish to pass up this opportunity despite the economic crisis.

    The party’s present problems are mainly caused by the electorate’s overwhelming dislike of what they know of the Liberal Democrat’s policies and their complete refusal to modify them in tune with popular wishes. Does anyone believe that Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman would have won the 1906 election if the Liberals had put forward wildly unpopular policies – of course not.

    It is hard to compete with the simplistic solutions offered by Jeremy Corbyn but if there is no attempt to offer popular policies and drop the unpopular ones the Liberal Democrats will go the way of the Whigs.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Oct '17 - 3:43pm

    Yes, I think the national interest did require us to join the Coalition and try to make a success of it, I agree with your points, Ian Sanderson. Others above have also taken a moderate and reasoned view of the situation post 2010. David Evans (hi, David!) as always thinks differently, but ‘trying to stop him (Nick) in his headlong drive towards oblivion’ is puzzling – I would have thought you wanted that and are glad it seems likely to be achieved. I repeat, however, he has been saying useful things for the party in interviews.

    nvelope 2003, I am surprised by your assertion that the party’s present problems are caused by the electorate’s ‘overwhelming dislike of what they know of the Liberal Democrats’ policies’. I think that is quite wrong – people tend to like our moderate, well-thought-out and caring policies, or at least have a sense of their being generally a good thing, but don’t see how we are going to be in a position to carry them out.

    I am disappointed that nobody here seems inclined to point out the progress the party made in the two years of Tim Farron’s leadership, with membership increasing, council seats being won back, unity in the party and increasing goodwill in the country. So I do!

  • David Evans 7th Oct '17 - 4:32pm

    Katharine, You somehow have made a most obscure comment – How would any Lib Dem want Liberal Democracy to be led on a charge towards oblivion? Please explain?

    As for your comment “he has been saying useful things for the party in interviews.” Could you give a few examples of the things he has been saying and how they are useful for the party. I certainly haven’t noticed any surge in the opinion polls which is what we need to make a difference.

    Finally, you point to “council seats being won back,” Could you enlighten us as to how many more councillors we have now than we had after May 2015?

    I really do worry it is all “hear no evil.”

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Oct '17 - 9:14pm

    David, my dear chap, I was directly quoting you! You wrote, ‘Some of us have been trying to stop him on his headlong drive towards oblivion’. You probably meant, his headlong drive of Liberal Democrats (or Lib Democracy perhaps) towards oblivion, but you actually wrote that you tried to stop Nick himself getting there – hence my teasing comment. As to the useful things Nick has been saying in interviews, you can look them up yourself – I mentioned where they were in my October 5th comment at 9.59 pm. And as a fair-minded man, I don’t think you want to deny that we were making council gains in this last year, all of them celebrated each time here on LDV. I only know directly about the Cumbria County Council seat won, as you must be aware, by our excellent Rebecca Hanson, who was candidate in the Copeland by-election in the spring.

    I think you are someone who tells us all we need to buckle down to work on our own patch, so you will be pleased to know I was out canvassing with Rebecca the Wednesday before last, with another of our colleagues, and that on the Wednesday just gone – a very wet evening – we three had a session of considering local issues in depth at Rebecca’s home. She is working very hard and doing a grand job, in which I am glad to support her each week. I trust you are all putting in the same sort of effort in South Lakes.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Oct '17 - 11:15pm

    PS David, I return to my screen to save you some trouble. Nick Clegg in the Andrew Marr interview on September 24 explained lucidly why, because of the failure of the promises of Brexit shown by the EU negotiations, by next October Parliament should decide that the British people have the right to change their minds and therefore should be offered the referendum we propose. He also challenged Jeremy Corbyn, that there would be no way of ending austerity if Brexit goes ahead because it will make the country poorer. I remember also that in his interview with the Japanese periodical, Nick explained that none of the promises of the Leave leaders could be fulfilled.

    Frankly, David, I would rather spend my energy on line attacking May and Corbyn than any Liberal Democrat (even David Laws), no matter how mistaken I considered him to be. And please remember that Sir Vince was part of the Coalition decision-making. Let’s look to the future, and work in the present. Peace be with you, and goodnight.

  • @ nvelope2003

    If we had done what we promised this would have been different from what the Coalition did. If Labour had been elected it would not have done what the Coalition did.

    Our major spending polices in 2010 were increasing the personal allowance to £10,000 (£16.795 billion a year in 2011-12), the pupil premium (£2.64 billion a year by 2014) and scrapping tuition fees (£1.765 billion a year by 2014). Plus schemes for only 2010-11 and the restoration of the earnings link to pension (£330 million a year by 2014). We were proposing £17.025 billion of increases in tax and by 2015 £16.05 billion of cuts including £2.94 raised from a bank profit levy. The coalition government cut £21 billion from just the welfare spending and reduced the money given to local authorities by 27%. According to the OBR economic growth was reduced by 2% between 2010 and 2012 by Government policies and this is likely to be an under-estimate according to the LSE.

    It could be said that we had three popular policies in 2010 – increasing the personal allowance, increasing pensions and scrapping student fees. I don’t think we had any popular policies in 2015 or 2017. In 2015 we were promising £6.265 billion of tax rises and about £1 billion of tax cuts and about £15 billion of spending cuts. In 2017 none of our policies were popular because we had promised not to go into government! We promised £15.935 billion in increased taxes and just over £30 billion in increased spending. (We promised to increase spending by about £18.6 billion less than Labour and promised to increase the deficit by £14.115 billion more than Labour.) I don’t remember any Liberal Democrat saying, “Vote Liberal Democrat and we will stimulate the economy by just over £14 billion”. If we had said this we might have been popular, even if where we were spending the money might not have been so popular.

    @ Katharine Pindar

    One of the major problems with the Coalition government was the £21 billion worth of welfare cuts, we had less than £2 billion worth of welfare cuts in our 2010 manifesto and we should have vetoed the Conservative welfare cuts and maybe if we had we wouldn’t have lost more than two-thirds of our 2010 vote.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Oct '17 - 4:49pm

    Yes, you are right, Michael, and thanks for all the useful figures. You make the interesting point that our policies in the recent General Election ‘couldn’t be popular because we had promised not to go into government’ . I guess that won’t be the case next time, and meanwhile policies like the proposed 1% on income tax to contribute to the NHS and social care seem generally acceptable, in this changed climate of reaction to austerity.

  • Hopefully next time we will not attack Labour’s spending plans as being bad for the economy, but instead point out where ours are better. In 2017 reversing more of the Tory welfare cuts (including the benefits freeze) and increasing the deficit. We then could have stated our opposition to the re-nationalisation of the gas, electricity and water industries. We need to recognise we will not gain many seats attacking Labour’s competence to govern..

  • 1% on income tax to improve the NHS ? It would produce £ 5.5 billion according to the IFS. According to the Kings Fund, the NHS will be short of £ 30 billion by 2020/21 – so 1% on income tax is a drop in the Ocean. It is simply a rehash of the 1% on income tax for education promised by Charlie Kennedy.

    Labour’s policy of not reducing Corporation Tax was actually more realistic and honest. It’s time for Lib Dems to get their thinking caps on about fiscal and tax policy if they are to be regarded as sensible and realistic players in the game of political snakes and ladders.

    In ‘Bake Off’ terms, it’s all an incoherent mish-mash flavoured with a hint of neo-liberalistic hesitation. Not good enough I’m afraid. I’d rather be hung for a sheep than a Herdwick Lamb.

  • @ David Raw

    Our 2017 policy was to return Corporation Tax back to 20% (the 2015 rate, not 2014 rate [21%]) and we said it would generate £3.615 billion in 2019/20. Labour’s policy must have included ours (even if unclear from footnote 24 of their costing document) which only states increasing it to 21% for 2018-19, 24% for 2019-20 and 26% for 2020-21 and the small profits rate back to 20% for 2018-19 and up to 21% for 2020-21. They estimate it would produce something close to but below (by about 8%) £19.4 billion.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Oct '17 - 10:18pm

    David Raw. It is a good point, well-made. But it does raise a rather more broad question for me right back to the Coalition. We had a serious fiscal consolidation and within that there were protections for a number of areas, most notably pensioners and the NHS – two of the biggest budgets.

    The plain implication of those protections were deeper cuts elsewhere. Now, clearly, one could take the view that triple locked pensions at a time of 0% interest rates, fuel payments and the NHS are primus inter pares. Fine, that’s a reasonable argument.

    But I don’t think that some people quite realised how the protections morphed into very long-term commitment to ever-increasing budgets for effectively sacred cows. Theresa May was right to look to end the triple lock. As we are seeing with the arguments about a 7 day NHS we are at the limit.

    At some point someone needs to say the unsayable about the protected areas. Glad it’s not me.

  • Philip Rolle 8th Oct '17 - 11:29pm

    With the kind of numbers needed, the only answer is the reform of health and social care funded by a social insurance scheme. That’s the unsayable at present and it’s costing lives.

  • @ Little Jackie P. ” At some point someone needs to say the unsayable about the protected areas. Glad it’s not me.”

    Oh no they don’t – and you’ve just said it.

  • David Evans 9th Oct '17 - 10:07am

    Katharine, your explanations are, as always interesting, pleasantly argued and well presented, and they do begin from exactly the same position as my points: that Brexit will be an unmitigated disaster for the UK and it is vital we stop it if we can, but it is at this point where we diverge.

    You begin from what influences you and say we need more of it. What I begin with is what influences the people who need to change and a say we need more of that. As I have said on many occasions, Nick is a lovely orator to a Liberal audience – he can craft and deliver a speech on liberty that can make your heart bleed. But to the general public, he is the man who broke his word (repeatedly), supported Conservative austerity and watched while David Cameron let the Bankers off and imposed all the cuts on the poor and those in the middle.

    Hence my question “Could you give a few examples of the things he has been saying and how they are useful for the party? I certainly haven’t noticed any surge in the opinion polls which is what we need to make a difference.” Interviews with a Japanese news outlet which we were able to read on Lib Dem Voice will influence no-one we need to persuade to change. I would have thought that was clear. Equally on Marr his ‘Old voters are dying, remain are in the majority’ comment, was not helpful in converting people to our cause, it will just make them determined to ensure Brexit happens. Quite simply every time Nick appears on television it is a disaster for the Remain and the Lib Dems.

    As for your comment “And as a fair-minded man, I don’t think you want to deny that we were making council gains in this last year,” I am afraid it is rather dismissive and bordering on disdainful. Over the last 12 months the Lib Dems have actually made a net loss of seats on councils, not net gains. Indeed according to Mark Pack “Two and a half years after coming out of coalition, the Liberal Democrat local council base has recovered by a mere net two councillors. (Not 2,000; not 200; not 20; but 2).” At that rate it will take us over a thousand years to get back to where we were before Nick became leader!!

  • David Evans 9th Oct '17 - 2:10pm

    Katharine, thinking of it in a local context, it is true what you say, we now have Rebecca on Cumbria County, and indeed she is a truly excellent councillor, but as you know we also had another excellent candidate in Phill, much better that those on offer by the other parties, but again he lost. That wasn’t due to any inadequacies on his part, but was due to the standing of the party nationally, which he couldn’t quite overcome. By lifting our eyes just a little further, in Cumbria as a whole we only came out level in the County Council elections in May with two losses and two gains, while in the country as a whole we made a net loss of 42 seats. So as a fair-minded woman, I don’t think you would want to deny that we actually made net losses of council seats in this last year. Perhaps you could make that clear.

    Katharine, we all want Liberal Democracy to succeed, but when so many define success so heavily weighted towards their personal perspective, instead of looking at the full picture, it is no wonder we are still at best treading water; and after five years of Lib Dem involvement in coalition, we now have no MPs in so much of the country, a Conservative party taking us out of the EU, ably supported by a Labour leader who is totally anti EU, and a big vacuum in the centre where we used to be. These things all came about because of how Nick led us in coalition.

    In these circumstance we will not succeed by simply saying “I know I’m right, join me”. We won’t even succeed by saying “Nick is so maligned. Listen to him and join Labour.” It takes something very different, an ability to understand that what appeals personally to me does not appeal to Brexit supporters, or even those who are neutral, plus an ability to understand the full picture and not just the bit we like looking at. That is how we all need to change. Keep doing the good stuff, but please stop supporting the stuff that got us into this mess.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Oct '17 - 6:25pm

    I am rather sad today and not up to combat, so have it your own way, David. It’s certainly bad news that the apparent gains of council seats were countered by losses. In the case of Nick Clegg, you pick on the last sentence of his argument, which has been aired on LDV before now by others. In both of his contributions, he spoke of the untruths of the Brexiteers, which are surely part of the discussion we have to have with the country to persuade them that another referendum is needed; but as you see his appearances as poison that is no help. I didn’t like his latest pitch (extensively criticised in another thread), agreeing with others that that isn’t helpful.
    Local note – Phill R. asked us not to campaign for him, because we have a decent sort of Labour MP, though those sort of Progressive Alliance tactics will always be arguable.

    As to our economic policies, I leave them to expert analysts like Michael BG., but I remember that our Manifesto pledges were well received. David R., Herdwick lambs as you know have the knack of turning from black to white as they grow, which might not be a helpful thought to develop 🙂 but congratulations on the new twin grandchildren, and I hope they and their mother thrive (as much as possible, out of London’s bad air!).

  • Richard Underhill 11th Oct '17 - 5:56pm

    At PMQ on 11/10/2017 there was a flash of temper from Theresa May as she threw down a bundle of papers before recovering to blast the Labour MP who asked the question.
    We await the memoirs (or leaks) of current Cabinet members.
    Comparisons with Gordon Brown allegedly breaking typewriter keyboards in his frustration, (or throwing them?) may occur. The job is obviously difficult, but the national interest is at stake.

  • It was a terrible performance at PMQ’s by Theresa May. She failed to answer any of the questions, and compared to Corbyn, it was a wooden stumbling crumbling performance on Universal Credit. 6 – 0 to Islington.

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Nov '17 - 12:34pm

    At PMQ on 22/11/2017 Theresa May said that Labour has never had a female leader. This is a matter of record and should be a matter of impartiality. The Labour party elected a leader (who died) and a deputy leader (who succeeded to the leadership). The Labour party constitution at that time did not require a leadership election. Margaret Becket MP agreed on BBC1 ‘On the Record’ that this was the case. Television historians tend to overlook this and speed on to the leadership election she called, won by Tony Blair MP.

  • @ Richard Underhill Margaret Becket. Good point, Richard.

    Back in 1994 I accompanied my late Mum (who was wearing Dad’s medals) to the 50th Anniversary Ceremonies of D-Day in 1994. We met Margaret Becket who was there as Leader of the Opposition (12 May 1994 – 21 July 1994). She took time out to chat with Mum about Dad’s service as a Typhoon pilot. We sat then near her to watch the Veterans march past at Arromanches. I’m glad to say Dame Margaret is still the M.P. for Lincoln.

    PS. Mum also met Paddy who could not have been more charming.

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