The Observer’s Barbara Ellen joins the Liberal Democrats

Welcome to one of our newest newbies, Observer columnist Barbara Ellen who outs herself in today’s paper. She left Labour 14 months ago, after Jeremy Corbyn rendered the party unelectable.

On her decision to join the Liberal Democrats she says:

I did it for highly unoriginal Brexit reasons (I’m one of those Remoaners who still think there’s a lot to Remoan about). The Tories are morphing into a cartoon hydra of their own worst impulses. The Labour party seems intent on chewing on sticks of dynamite like they’re delicious lollipops.

Donald Trump is squatting in power like an angry toad stuck to an uber-Republican lily pad. Ultimately, I joined the Lib Dems because I didn’t know what else I could do. The way I see it, this is turning into Generation Compromised and you gotta do what you gotta do.

She runs through and tackles a series of criticisms of the party – many of which, to be honest, are shared by some party members – and concludes:

However, I feel it’s now time to stop sniping about a ball that started rolling back in 2010 and instead focus solely on the here and now. And right now, continuing to carp about the past sins of the Lib Dems feels akin to whingeing about the colour of the curtains while the house burns down.

I meant what I said earlier about it feeling like Generation Compromised: this may become an era that ends up defined by having to make difficult, conflicted grown-up choices – holding your nose and just getting on with it. Anything else could turn out to be self-indulgent in the extreme.

So, welcome, Barbara. And if you are reading this, you might want to check out Tim Farron’s interview with Pink News from last year. These issues affect too many people I care about and it’s vitally important to me that we have a leader who is prepared to speak out on them. And there’s a video here where he does and I trust him to do so in the future.

If what Barbara says strikes a chord with you, join us here.

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

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Adam Bernard 29th Jan '17 - 12:52am

    Welcome to Barbara! I hope as a party we justify her decision.

  • I still don’t like the curtains.

  • …………”However, I feel it’s now time to stop sniping about a ball that started rolling back in 2010 and instead focus solely on the here and now. And right now, continuing to carp about the past sins of the Lib Dems feels akin to whingeing about the colour of the curtains while the house burns down.”……..

    You mean like ignoring Corbyn’s current policies on Housing, Education, LGBT rights, Transport, Taxation, etc.(many of which were mainstream LibDem aspirations pre 2010) and referring only to his ‘sympathies’ with Sinn Féin and Palestinian groups…

  • Richard Underhill 29th Jan '17 - 9:49am

    Labour’s Harriet Harman was interviewed on the Andrew Marr Show. She said she did not get support from her predecessor John Prescott. Gordon Brown did not make her Deputy Prime Minister, which she thinks she should have insisted on.
    Gordon Brown had been elected as Labour leader unopposed, because Jack Straw had sewn up the nominations so that no other MP could stand.
    Apart from a disparaging comment that GB said about Harriet Harman (who had been elected by Labour Party members) he appointed her Labour Party Chairman (which should have been an elected position?) She accepted the role (but see the body language and facial expression) as she took on the task of preparing for a general election (which GB cancelled).

  • expats, Trust me, there’s plenty in Corbyn’s present to dislike.
    Interesting you picked those two, given that I know many Labour supporters who have no trouble with those views at all and I wasn’t aware of any Lib Dem digging them out as primary reasons to object to him. I mean, the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine probably don’t mind the Palestinian thing, do you think?

    David Raw. If you don’t like the curtains: either try to get them changed; compromise because you like the rest of decor enough, or; move house.

  • Of course the ballad is properly called ‘Barbara Allen” but is still sung by more than a few as “Barbara Ellen”

    To slightly misquote;

    “Jeremy turned his face unto the wall,
    for death was Labour dealing:

    And slowly, slowly raise she up,
    And slowly, slowly left him,

    And sighing said, she coud not stay,
    Since death of life had reft him.”

    Welcome, Barbara. 🙂

    Just please don’t do an Adonis.

  • It’s always good to have someone new on board, especially someone in a position of influence. I’m sure her words echo what many think in terms of prejudice against us, and that they agree with much more of what we stand for than they may have realised. Getting people over that hump is one of our big challenges.

    The advice goes, “don’t read the comments”, and that is generally good advice, but in this case, it can be enlightening to see what those who comment on the Guardian website think, and if we can differentiate between genuine concerns and posturing, it gives us something to work on.

  • @ Cassie B. When you’ve lived in a harmonious radical progressive house for over fifty years and it gets invaded by right wing mice, you don’t move house, you get rid of the mice (unless the electorate do it for you first).

  • Ruth Bright 29th Jan '17 - 3:41pm

    It is lovely that someone like Barbara Ellen has joined. If Brexit is her primary motivation I pray that when she goes to her first ward meeting it does not consist of three fifty-something blokes who like talking for hours about wheelie bins and wouldn’t know what feminism was if it fell on them.

  • If that should happen, Ruth, then she should be aware that there are also many kindred spirits within the party who are feminists and who do value equality.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Jan '17 - 6:50pm

    David Raw re: comments from CassieB

    In an article about a new member, you seized on her comment about curtains to make your regular point about the direction of the party.

    In response to CassieB , who was not suggesting you leave the party but offering ways to deal with your dislike, you seized on expulsions or obliteration of those you do not agree with.

    Fifty years has seen as much change in society as in any party. Would you not expect parties to go through likewise.

    I know those of an older age group and lefter stance , think the party started when they were first active , but you know that is not so.

    The left wing so called red guard young Liberals had much to commend them, but honest and open ones, like Peter Hain , knew they were a very different breed to anything that had existed in Liberalism in the previous fifty years! He was openly a libertarian socialist , even in the Young Liberals. He left . Many did not.

    You cannot tell me that Thorpe, before him, Grimond, after him, Steel, were of the same stance of Greaves et al ! Like whichever wing you want to, dislike similarly, but parties change , and adapt.

    Nick Clegg has as much or more in common with the Liberalism of the twentieth century as you or anyone. It might well be more so in common with the pre: sixties era, but so , that is as it is. I am to the left of him, to the right of you. We now have Tim Farron and he likes and is friends and colleagues with his predecessor .

    Please David, we can yet be harmonious, including Nick as a good spokesman on the Brexit issues, in a team and party of a diversity of views shared. You and we would move on in your moroseness, not your membership !

  • David Raw, in coming up with a new metaphor, you appear to have missed the first option I gave in response to your original one: If you don’t like the curtains, try to get them changed.

  • @ Cassie It was nearly curtains for the party in 1915……………
    – You can take it that I have tried.

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