The Party of Freedom – where now?

Liberal Democrat Voice was kind enough to run my piece on the Liberal Democrats adopting the strategic slogan, The Party of Freedom, as an umbrella proposition for all the party stands for and to give voters an elemental reason to want to vote for us. The article elicited a lively range of opinions. Most, I think, favourable to my thinking.

So, I want to keep the debate alive because I think the idea has real electoral legs.

As a new member of the party I am completely ignorant of its structures and processes. I’m equally ignorant of its internal traditions. So, I think I can use the freshness of my membership to be pretty objective. In this case, ignorance may have some benefits.

By achievement, by attitudes, by policy, by instinct, the Liberal Democrats have always been the party of freedom and the party that gave people an alternative to the excesses of free market economics, spirit crushing Marxism and the xenophobia and insularity of UKIP.

For a time, it looked like the battle of capital versus labour was old hat, but not any more. Corbyn’s hard left Labour is lined up against May’s hard Right Tea Party Tories and her champions of The City and multinational business (how she reconciles this is anyone’s guess). Extremes always threaten freedom. Extremist parties by instinct want to quiet the voices of moderation. Freedom is at risk.

Farage – and his sidekick Trump are like the French Poujadist party of the 1950s; populist, small business; fighting against the forces of change and, in the helpful words of Wikipedia, “articulated around the defence of the common man against the elites.” Pierre Poujade regularly insulted the institutions of French democracy and the country’s elected representatives. Farage and Trump are not originals.

De Gaulle’s eleven-year dominance of French politics saw the Poujadists go from a membership of some 400,000 to almost nothing. Le Pen is the contemporary Poujade.

As Tim Farron constantly says, the ascent of the far Right is not inevitable. It can be stopped, but it needs many elements to ensure victory. That includes having a big, powerful, emotional message based in the essence of what the Lib Dems have been and are today. It must be a message that resonates inside the party. Far, far more importantly it must resonate with the millions of our fellows who may follow us by instinct but need more persuasion to vote for us.

It would be for the party to define which half dozen or so freedoms it wanted to focus on at national level, while articulating many others when required. It might be wise to have three freedoms to and three freedoms from.

A strapline is a clue, a reminder, an umbrella, a call to action, a stimulus, but mainly by its ubiquity it begins to register with people. It starts with awareness, then familiarity, then favourability (familiarity breeds favourability) and builds “permission to believe”. Permission to believe will come from what the party says, how it behaves and what it is perceived to stand for. The strapline is the central clue to the electorate, brought to life by the work of activists, leader, MPs and Peers, so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

In communications terms, this is firstly and lastly about the electorate not about us. On Tuesday evening, in Canterbury, I heard Tim Farron speak to a packed room of some 200 people. E Tim said exactly what my professor of politics said in my first tutorial many decades ago: politics is a minority sport. The vast majority of people have at best a passing interest in politics and are increasingly suspicious of the political classes. Emotion has in recent times frequently won over rationality. The complexities of the internet age mean that more and more people are talking and listening within small peer groups. Influencing from outside the group is a huge job.

So, if we want to win – and why else are we here – we have to use as many proven communications techniques as we can to give Tim Farron the platform he needs to help us capture the mood, the time and the victories. We can give him a far greater chance of success by giving him a more focused, emotional and powerful communications framework like Liberal Democrats – The Party of Freedom.

* Martin Roche is a member of Canterbury Liberal Democrats

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  • The Liberal Democrats are the party of Liberty.

  • Richard Easter 27th Nov '16 - 3:31pm

    I posted a variant of this on the Trump article, but it fits in just as well here.

    What do the Liberal Democrats have to say to the Welsh and Teeside steel workers? What do they have to say to junior doctors? What do they have to say to railway ticket office staff and Southern train guards facing the axe (soon to be followed by Northern under the new franchising)? What do they have to say to the 12,000 armed forces personnel who have been laid off? What do they have to say to the IT or call centre worker who has had their job offshored? What about the taxi drivers being undercut by Uber and indeed the exploited Uber and Deliveroo workers? The fishermen in Looe? The white van men who make a living doing odd jobs and struggle? The window cleaners? Shopkeepers struggling? The council workers now outsourced to hated corporations like G4S?

    These are the people who likely voted or would vote for Corbyn, The Greens, UKIP and SNP and very likely a large Brexit contingent.

    What can we say to them and what can we do for them? They all more than likely hold one, many or all of the following in utter contempt: free trade, corporations, the technocratic political elite, free movement, privatisation, offshoring, liberal economics, the EU commission, bankers and open borders.

    How can the Liberal Democrats stand up for these people, who will go down the route of socialism or nationalism or both, if the centre ground continually kicks them in their day to day lives, and now is perceived to want to stop democracy – whether it is Brexit / Trump or Corbyn’s second leadership election – and calls them “hard left” for being against multinational corporations setting the agenda and privatisation, “racist” for wanting border controls and being patriotic, and “stupid” for voting to leave the European Union and not backing globalisation?

  • Richard
    The days when people left school and stayed in the same job are over. People have to be multi-skilled and workers have to be retrained. The education system has to be improved to reflect this.

  • Richard Easter 27th Nov '16 - 4:10pm

    Simply saying that these days are over and everyone has to re-skill (and given a lot of IT and skilled technological work is offshored now), isn’t going to help these people, let alone make them consider the Liberal Democrats a valid electoral choice if this is the attitude they are faced with. Do we really need to convert 12,000 soldiers to 12,000 “Business Readyness Managers”, or close down a steel works and insist they all become marketing and PR staff? And who will pay for all this retraining? The government sure has hell won’t, university fees are high and the old style on the job training and companies paying for training is declining.

    And many of these jobs listed above aren’t actually irrelevant in the modern economy, they have either been cut back, undercutted, outsourced or offshored to boost corporate profit, which has zero benefit for any of these people, the bulk of UK citizens, and the local economies where these people are hit.

  • I’m sure Martin has posted an interesting set of suggestions, but to say that Liberal Democrats are simply ‘The Party of Freedom’ is one dimensional.

    It says nothing about “Freedom To” and “Freedom From”. To say a night sleeper sheltering in a shop doorway is “free” to stay or dine in The Savoy Hotel next door is of course meaningless.

    In the good old Grimond days we campaigned on the slogans of ‘people count’ and ‘people matter’. Somehow we need to get across the values of decency, tolerance, kindness and a sense of obligation and emancipation towards the less fortunate. Somehow all of that seemed to get lost between 2010 to 2015. It needs to be re-discovered and re-asserted.

  • Hi Martin
    Difficult to know what else I can add to support you here, than what I’ve already posted in your previous article.
    I too am fairly new to this and I think to be as kind as I can, the challenge is that so many have been through so much over the last few years with the party swinging wildly from Charles to Nick and then seemingly back again with Tim (at least to some extent), that the ability to be able to drop the baggage, take a massive step back from it, let it go and see things as they are now in 2016 with a genuinely fresh pair of, is really really difficult.
    Phrases with wood and trees in them some would say is a major challenge.
    I really wish you well with this and agree their were some creative comments on your first thread – whatever the outcome, this really needs to be pursued I think for all the reasons you’ve stated over both pieces now.

    I guess be its very nature, a site like Lib Dem voice is going to have a large number of academic analytical thinkers contributing – which is great for certain tasks.
    I wonder here though that the kind of skills you require for this task are going to be few and far between engaging here and I worry the ones who do, may be drowed out

  • Little Jackie Paper 27th Nov '16 - 5:16pm

    The basic problem is that at the moment capitalism is fantastic just as long as you have capital. The best, ‘preparation,’ for the Open World is to have bought a house in the right area 30 years ago.

    I just don’t get the starry-eyed view some people have now about the EU and its brand of Open. The way for REMAIN to win the EU referendum was to say something like:

    ‘Yes – we get it. We recognise that there are problems AND we will do something about those problems. We will introduce Denmark style restrictions on ownership of property. We will have German style restrictions on welfare. We will stop these agencies that only advertise jobs in the A8/A2, and make it stick. There will be a sharper distinction between free movement of labour and of people. We will look long and hard at non-EU migration visas. And we will look all over the EU for how we can work WITHIN the EU to make things better. While we are at it the says of asymmetric EU enlargement are over. Further if liberals, conservatives or corporates don’t like any of the reforms, so be it.’

    No one in REMAIN (in ANY political party) or, for that matter the EU institutions said anything like this. The message was basically, ‘business as usual.’ I’d really hope that some liberals might understand why some people might not be too keen on that.

    The idea of freedom is glib. I’ve got the freedom to drive for McLaren next year. What we should look for is autonomy. What would make for a meaningful autonomy? The freedom to have a BTL landlord make you homeless at short notice is neither autonomy nor is it worth fighting for.

    There are a lot of rather starry-eyed people out there at the moment who need to see the full range of reasons why LEAVE won the referendum, not just the bits they want to see.

  • Martin wrote this:
    “A strapline is a clue, a reminder, an umbrella, a call to action, a stimulus, but mainly by its ubiquity it begins to register with people. It starts with awareness, then familiarity, then favourability (familiarity breeds favourability) and builds “permission to believe”. Permission to believe will come from what the party says, how it behaves and what it is perceived to stand for. The strapline is the central clue to the electorate, brought to life by the work of activists, leader, MPs and Peers, so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
    Ask 100 people in any Intu or Westfield centre on a Saturday afternoon, what does the labour party stand for – you’ll get something like (until recently at least) – they’re for the workers. Tory’s – they’re for the bosses/business etc
    One line phrase , one phrase answer.
    * What will you get back when you ask what do the Lib Dems stand for?* (sorry Paul forgotten how to do capitals) 🙂
    This is the point – if they can’t tell you, they won’t vote for you!!!!!
    This is not a straitjacket as everyone so far seems to think, it’s a springboard.
    We have to have a springboard. That’s what Martin is trying to say!
    Everybody can then flesh out the bones – but you have to have bones that can be ‘just seen’. The public don’t even have a skeleton of understanding at present I would challenge.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Nov '16 - 5:49pm

    As my professor of philosophy would have said, Martin, many decades ago, your proposition is not logical. Extremes do indeed threaten freedom, as well as much else, but the opposite of extremism is moderation. and I think most of our population would go along with Aristotle and favour the middle way, or, as we put it today – and I think this has been proved by the statisticians – the centre ground. So moderate Conservatives, moderate Labour supporters, and the moderate-minded Leavers that Tim referred to on Question Time, most probably believe in freedom too. Nor is populism, if indeed the ‘defence of the common man against the elites’, necessarily a bad thing: what is harmful is the authoritarian populism usefully identified by YouGov in the Cambridge Forum study highlighted here a few weeks ago, or the extreme of nationalism which Tim Farron has denounced as the dangerous leaning of our present Government. No, Martin, remember your politics degree rather than your adman experience. Our Liberal Democrat watchword is Liberalism, which includes liberty, and (as David Raw says above), to call us the Party of Freedom would be one-dimensional. We must not reduce all we have to offer to an advertising slogan or strapline or brand. It’s excellent that you have raised this debate, but I believe your approach is profoundly wrong. To pursue the argument, please refer to my own piece, ‘Liberalism is our solid ground, but also our springboard for the future’, published here earlier this month.

  • Simon McGrath 27th Nov '16 - 6:05pm

    “Corbyn’s hard left Labour is lined up against May’s hard Right Tea Party Tories and her champions of The City and multinational business (how she reconciles this is anyone’s guess). ”
    But the City and multinational are overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the EU /the single market

  • Martin
    Faversham Lib Dems have a by-election commencing. Would be interested in talking to you to see if you could better inform our message. If you are interested message our Facebook page and I will contact you. Thanks

  • The point which is unargueable is that with the extremes creating their own agenda and dividing the country, there is a need for Liberalism more than ever. The platform on which our drive should be made needs refreshing, of course Liberalism has been defined many times over, but we need words and phrases that are easily understood by modern society. Freedom is but the prefix to all aspects of life.Freedom to live in peace,to follow your dreams,to marry or partner who you wish, to pray for whom you wish or no=one. It is not hard to imagine that being understood and voted for.
    I disagree with Martin on one point ,there were 300 in the room for Tims speech ,with others in an overflow room
    Welcome to Canterbury

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Nov '16 - 6:22pm

    I particularly agree with Richard Easter, and , and this does not happen as often , on many comments, here, with David Raw .

    We need to recognise , whether looking to the social or new Liberalism of Britain from the Edwardian era , to now , and onwards , or to the Four Freedoms Liberalism of FDR in the US, the fight for freedom is a mix of the freedom to , as well as freedom from.

    It was Roosevelt who showed that freedom to can be freedom from as well, because the freedom from want or fear , is as important in emphasising our values , as the freedom to do those things we have a right to and should or must .

    We should be the party of individual freedom , and common sense ! My slogan! You heard it here first . Steal it you cannot as it is copyrited this date !

  • Freedom is not a simple concept – freedom to smoke vs freedom not to have someone else mutating your cells and increasing your chance of cancer. Property rights yes, land ownership based on the Norman conquest ?

    Who is meant to be against freedom ? It is a political dead end.

  • Hi Katharine
    Ok – I am going to challenge back this time – nicely.
    So, you’ve stopped me in my local Westfield centre and given me a big beaming smile (so far , so good).
    I know nothing about the Lib Dem’s accept that I was impressed by some guy on the ‘tele’ last week who was very passionate and spoke with a good Northern accent – thought you’d all disappeared!.
    I did vote for you once when Mr Kennedy bravely stood up against that awful war – put me right off Tony Blair it did.
    I voted for Nigel last time coz although I’m working class, things are pretty hard around here now. He seems like he understands us and seems like a normal guy.
    Thought the Lib Dems had disappeared actually, the last guy, Nick was it, seemed a bit posh to us round here, isn’t that right Mabel, sucking up to ‘call me Dave’ and all that.
    Anyway, we’ve got to get on with our shopping.
    Liberal you say, what does that mean – we’ve got about 30 seconds (I’m being generous Katharine :-)).
    Why should we vote for you now – you’ve got a lovely smile, but we’re not really sure what you stand for, that’s right Mabel isn’t it. What does Liberal mean?……………………..

    Over to you 🙂

  • The Lib Dems have to be the party “For you”. If they are not seen to be looking after the Taxi Drivers, the Railway Staff, the IT Staff, the Steel workers and those struggling why would they vote for you. You can try the Yellow Book approach of “The days when people left school and stayed in the same job are over, suck it up” and they turn round and tell you the days when Liberal Democrats are MP’s, MSP’s, AM’s, MEP’s and councillors “Are over” and they did. Learn from that mistake engage with them or die out as a party.

  • Martin Roche 27th Nov '16 - 7:56pm

    To Peter Cook in Faversham I don’t do facebook, but happy to help if I can. You can get me on LinkedIn.

    In my piece of last week I talk about freedom to and freedom from.

    Straplines are not panaceas. A great deal more is required, but worth floating the thought as it’s fallow political ground at present. For most people outside politics liberty and freedom are the same thing, but I’d bet you $64,000 that people would be more stmulated by freedom than liberty. Moderation is a very good thing in poltics but an exceedingly dull idea when trying to get people to give you a second or two of their time in order to try and engage them further. We have to have emotion as well as rationality. By far the greater percentage of people think very differently from the politically engaged. We not only have to find better ways of reaching people but better policies that deal with the issues they peceive we have ignored, it is great to fight for the EU but we have to be famous for far more than that; far more than the party that simply says Non.

  • Martin, many a belief written in jest.
    If I ever needed to show someone the side to some of the liberals that I find least attractive, I need look no further than your last post.
    Even if meant as some sort of parody of the people you want to vote for you, I would suggest that it was ill advised to post. Could it be you have forgotten, or never known, there are people whose vote you need that believe what you posted is exactly how Liberals view those who vote for other parties.
    Bit of an own goal that one in my opinion.

  • @Richard Easter – “What do the Liberal Democrats have to say to the Welsh and Teeside steel workers? What do they have to say to junior doctors? What do they have to say to railway ticket office staff and Southern train guards facing the axe”

    That’s an excellent question! We can start by not making false promises, and admit we don’t know all the answers.

    What we should do as Liberal Democrats is find better ways of allowing ordinary people to exploit their talents and commitment. We should facilitate, rather than direct, entrepreneurs so that they can pursue business ideas you or I can’t even imagine.

    We should do this by stopping dishing out large grants to big multinationals to build warehouses that they would have built anyway, to employ people on minimum wage and/or zero hours contracts (I’m looking at you, Amazon). Instead we should hundreds of smaller ventures.

    We should re-purpose Government Departments such as HMRC, BIS, HSE etc. so that part of their role is to assist small and start-up businesses rather than burden and audit them.

    We should have more Government ministers and civil servants with actual business experience, preferably of working for SMEs and start-ups.

    And any Government minister who talks about “cutting red tape” and then doesn’t actually do this within, say, 12 months should be shot (with rubber bullets – I’m not a monster).

  • I meant Mike of course, sorry Martin. Point stands though Mike.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Nov '16 - 8:40pm

    We have today in the statement from our leader , Tim Farron, an example of what our true love of freedom means , on the record of Castro. Respectful , as a spiritual man of faith on the passing of a fellow human being , and staunch in criticism of the dictators record on freedom itself , or lack of it in Castro’s Cuba. Our leader of a dreadfully reduced opposition party with the name Liberal in it , does justice to what we stand for , and yes at the very core is freedom. Not as a soundbite as a statement of principle in practice.

    Compare and contrast with the pathetic cringe making from Justin Trudeau , who is increasingly showing me why I do not like him much as a leader of a so called Liberal government and , his party had better liberally , if not electorally , under Michael Ignatief !

  • Tynan – not sure I understand where you’re coming from here.
    I’m simply trying to gain some clarification and hopefully some sharper everyday language by introducing a little role playing.
    There was no intention whatsoever of offending anyone.
    Sometimes trying to be creative involves a bit of risk – maybe we are all a little conservative and safe sometimes.
    My first manager said to me a long time ago – “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got”.
    Apologies if it offended you – I can assure you, that’s the last thing I intended to do.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Nov '16 - 10:21pm

    Hi, Mike S, I’m delighted to be challenged, and have mused, from my own communications and marketing background, whether I would be willing to try to assist in front-line presentation, simplifying as Martin wants us to do to grab public attention. However, we do have a clear and simple message at the moment, that we believe. like 48% of the voters, that we should be staying in the EU, and that as the economy deteriorates, Parliament must debate the terms on offer for Brexit and hold another referendum if (as seems likely) they are bad for the country. ( I also like Richard Easter’s questions and Nick Baird’s suggested reply.)
    So as to the couple I’ve stopped in the Westfield Shopping Centre, o.k., I might ask them what they think about the Referendum decision and the present state of affairs, whether it really is worth leaving the EU at all, and explaining our party’s position. But also or alternatively, depending on how unhurried they seemed to be, I might take the line of my current part-time career as a counsellor, and ask them what bothers them personally most about things today. I might end up hearing about Aunty Mabel’s stay in hospital and how difficult it is to get public transport to visit her, and explain how my local Lib Dem councillor is taking up the issue of inadequate local transport. Or I might hear that they think immigration is a problem and ask who they have encountered, what about the nurses and doctors in the hospital from abroad? Well, I could go on but there you are – plenty of different answers possible, adapted to the people I’m talking to but truthful; and as David Raw put it so well above, hopefully conveying the ‘values of decency, tolerance, kindness and a sense of obligation towards the less fortunate’, the values we Liberal Democrats share (thanks, David!). (Incidentally, Mike, I think Nick Clegg holds them too, and reading David Laws’s book Coalition I could see the continuity of values from Nick’s leadership then to Tim’s now, despite the differences of economic judgement.)
    PS – Little Jackie, I like your description of what Remainers should have been saying to the EU, and hope we still may have chances for that kind of reasoned discussion and compromise.

  • Mike, not offend just a little surprised. Still as you say,try something different. Anyway no harm etc.

  • No worries – Tynan.
    Note to self: be a little more careful at how things may be perceived

  • Hi Katharine
    Maybe getting ‘values’ across would be worth exploring more? That bit spoke to me.
    Also, re Nick – Tynan and you both seem to have read in to my role play, that these are *my* actual views on Nick – they aren’t.
    I was simply trying to pick an example of what a couple may challenge back with.
    I think Nick’s a very decent guy

  • Simon McGrath 27th Nov '16 - 11:11pm

    @Nick Baird
    “We should re-purpose Government Departments such as HMRC, BIS, HSE etc. so that part of their role is to assist small and start-up businesses rather than burden and audit them.”
    But small firms are usually poor payers without decent benefits with limited ability to grow. Why prioritise them ?

  • Simon,
    Because they are more likely to pay tax, than multinational companies.

  • Martin Roche 27th Nov '16 - 11:56pm

    Simple is a prerequisite of almost all successful mass communication. Why should we expect people to try and understand us? It’s our job to make it as easy as possible for them, not because they are not capable, but because they have lives, jobs, families, hobbies or just want to watch telly. The nuances of our constitution are about as completing as a night out with Iain Duncan Smith. If we had time and resources to engage all of the people in induvudual conversations we might just have a chance, but we don’t and for every one we’d manage to speak to fifty would find an excuse to walk away. I do want to simplify the headline in order to differentiate us with the salience of the essence of what the party stands for. A car is a very complex machine and if all cars were the same there’d be no need for marketing or promotion. But they are not the same, but each uses a proposition to act as the calling card fir the brand and its essential values and personality;e.g. the ultimate driving machine. What I’m after is a more powerful, more arresting, more interesting calling card, not a philosophical discussion with the man on the Clapham omnibus.

  • David Evershed 28th Nov '16 - 12:58am

    People don’t know what the Lib Dems stand for.

    I my view we need to have a clearer ideology underlying our policies so people can see why the policies are what they are.

    Freedom is better than liberty because it leads to FREE health treatment (at the point of delivery), FREE education (at the point of delivery), FREEdom of speech, FREE markets, FREE trade etc.

    Libertarianism would be going too far and imply no limits on freedoms.

    There are some Lib Dem members who are really socialists not liberals and more keen on state intervention than freedom for individuals and businesses. We might lose many of these in the short term but we would gain more in the long term.

    In my view we would have a clearer message and more coherent policies if we coalesce around communicate the FREEDOM ideology.

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Nov '16 - 1:43am

    @ Martin Roche. Martin, I just noticed your comment of 27th, 7.56 pm, and am writing now because it seems to be responding a good deal to my comment of 5.49 pm, though you don’t address me directly. You say ‘moderation is a very good thing in politics, but an exceedingly dull idea when trying to get people to give a second or two of their time’. You must be aware (as a fellow politics graduate?) that in pointing out that most British people are probably moderate or centrist I wasn’t suggesting that I would approach them directly saying that, but was outlining the context in which we are working: most people being amenable to reason if things are represented pleasantly, in face-to-face converse, as I’ve indicated in replying to Mike S. I think you said you were a newcomer to the Lib Dems? As a lifelong Liberal member with renewed commitment since May 2015, I can tell you that we do already have many policies that people find relevant to their needs and are continually developing them. Finally, since I am proud to be a Liberal Democrat and passionate about it, as regular readers here will have gathered from several of my posts this year, I find your comment ‘We have to have emotion as well as rationality’, if directed at me, supremely redundant, and if a general remark for the party led by and responding to Tim Farron, equally inappropriate. You evidently don’t yet know us.

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Nov '16 - 2:10am

    What next? I was of course responding to a particular challenge from Mike S, not suggesting that individual conversations can get us back into power, though small ripples can spread widely. But comparing our needs with the needs of a car manufacturer is – I daren’t write it in fear of our scrupulous editors! There may be simple solutions, though I doubt it, but there are also simplistic ones. The underlying difficulty here it seems to me is that Martin believes that ‘By far the greater percentage of people think very differently from the politically engaged.’ I don’t believe so, we are all fishes in the same ever-rolling river, never able to do more than glimpse the banks.

  • Richard Easter 4:10pm
    If I can do it so can millions of others.
    I was once thrown on the scrapheap but against the odds
    I overcame many difficulties. The first thing is not to be negative.

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Nov '16 - 5:11am

    The party needs a strategy review after the Richmond Park by-election. If it doesn’t win that then it won’t have much choice – the conditions are as favourable as its likely to come across.

    The strategy I favour is mostly self-interest. This is not right wing because many depend on the government and most on its public services.

  • @david evershed – well make up your mind, what do you want? Freedom ? or Free markets ? Free education or free markets? Free health care or free markets ?

    “Libertarianism would be going too far and imply no limits on freedoms.” – on the contrary, Libertarianism imposes huge limits on freedoms because what it does is entrench power and privilege.

  • Richard Easter 28th Nov '16 - 7:07am

    Manfarang – and many many – if not the majority do not – else the former pit, tin mining and potteries towns would be in a far better state than they are. And even people who have retrained or gone to work in service industries have seen job offshoring and undercutting from low wages again.

    I am sure there are success stories, just as a small number of ordinary people become millionaires due to a mixture of hard work, a great idea, persistence and a little luck. But this is not the reality for most people. It is much like the whole American Dream – something which has gone up in smoke, hence the election of Trump as citizens desperately want it back.

    As I said before, many of the jobs listed above are not economically irrelevant, it is corporate greed and political ideology which has affected them. I see zero benefit in cutting the armed forces, removing staff from trains and stations, using zero hour contract jobs to undercut existing workers, handing our infrastructure and public services over to foreign governments and outsourcing people to idiots like G4S, yet we are told that such things are not only inevitable, but better for us.

    David Evershed “There are some Lib Dem members who are really socialists not liberals and more keen on state intervention than freedom for individuals and businesses.”

    I would have thought that the bulk of Lib Dems support a mixed economy model, similar to the Scandinavian countries – even if the Orange book don’t. I don’t think there are many if any actual socialists in the party, particularly not since the Clegg era – after all there is Corbyn, the Greens and even TUSC. There will be plenty of pragmatists who think that there are areas where the state is the most appropriate solution to regulating or delivering public services – I don’t know anyone who wants privatised police or a privatised army, and surveys consistently show that a considerable majority of voters want a nationalised NHS, nationalised Royal Mail, nationalised utilities and nationalised railways – despite the fact that actual socialist parties are unpopular with the voters.

    I am sure I have read somewhere on a survey of voter groups, that the percentage of voters who actually would back an “Orange Book” style market liberal party are very low – lower than those who would back the mirror image – an economically left wing version of UKIP.

  • The Lib Dems tried the Orange Book, it came close to killing them. Trying it again is likely too be fatal.

  • Ian Hurdley 28th Nov '16 - 8:09am

    What about all the lay-offs, sell-offs, redundancies etc? Well, we can’t turn the clock back and magic Tory actions out of existence, so we can only talk about now and about the future. Step one in my opinion is to build support at local, regional, national (and hopefully, European) level to the point where we have exert far more influence and restraint on this Tory government. It’s a task that Labour seems unwilling to perform, so we have a rare opportunity to claim that role.
    To have any chance of achieving that we must be able to point to a single, tangible benefit. Duracell did not get to its present standing by explaining that it comes in various sizes so that it can be used in torches, portable radios, podcast microphones, and many others; the company said and demonstrated that it’s batteries last longer than other brands – something that users want, but crucially also something that is accepted as true.
    Finally, a paradox; the more different reasons you give people to choose a brand, the more those reasons dilute each other, and the less people know about what you offer. “Freedom” can be our “lasts longer” message; the specific ways in which Lib Dem freedom will work are the practical examples of the benefit we offer. A properly funded, humane benefits system offers freedom from hunger, fuel poverty, the fear of eviction for instance.
    I was convinced that Martin, a professional in this field, had something valuable to offer the Party. I remain of that opinion, and it saddens me to see so much energy being devoted to explaining why it won’t work, rather than taking the proposition and seeking to work it up into the powerful message which it could be.

  • Denis Loretto 28th Nov '16 - 8:24am

    Like I said on the previous thread, it can’t be done in one word but in two – freedom and fairness.

  • @Simon McGrath – “But small firms are usually poor payers without decent benefits with limited ability to grow. Why prioritise them ?”

    Because SMEs provide 60% of all private sector employment and 47% of all private sector turnover. Because it’s easier to start up a small company than a large one. Because some small companies will be innovative and grow. Because we need to look at doing something different, as people get replaced by automation (how many people will you spot in an Amazon fulfilment warehouse in 10 years time?).

    And as Frankie says, they are less likely or able to dodge paying tax.

  • Martin Roche 28th Nov '16 - 8:34am

    Katherine, I would not for a moment question your knowledge of or loyalty to the party you have a been long time member of. Nor do I doubt for a moment that the party has many good policies. Indeed, I have not mentioned specific policies in any of my posts. Nor was my comment about emotion and rationality directed at you. The same point was made in my original article and in the latesest one. I do though stand by my remark about moderation. Huge swaths of British people are moderates, but as a political headline it’s not going to cut much ice. I joined the LibDems to help maintain centrist, moderate politics, but we have to be open to the new and the different. You clearly take a different view from me. You entirely miss the point about cars. The statement about cars is an analogy about communication not an a comparison between car makers and the LibDems. However, it would unwise to ignore the fact that great brands and successful consumer-facing businesses have a very great deal to teach us. Were I more sensitive soul I might take offence at being told I have much to learn about the LibDens. I hope, conversely, the LibDens are prepared to listen to new members who bring fresh ideas and different ways of seeing the world. Otherwise there is little point in being engaged.

  • Martin Roche 28th Nov '16 - 10:03am

    Ian Hurtley; very good final point. It is said in the marketing business that the American soap giant, Proctor and Gamble has a golden rule that when hearing presentations from outside organisations pitching for business (from bankers to ad men, IT folk to cleaning services) that the P&G people must be wholly positive for the first 20/30 minutes after the pitch is given. If true (there’s surely an ex P&G person out there in LD land who knows if the truth is thus). I beleive the objective is to build on thinking to see where it goes and create an atmosphere where no idea is deemed unworthy until it has been properly considered and evaluated. I’ve noted in many successful businesses that when the management is open to ideas from any quarter the troops are much more enthusiastically engaged with the organisation than is otherwise the case. In the end though, strategic communications decisions have to be taken by leaders. Consultation is not infrequent, but committees tend to seek compromises that seek to deal with internal concerns and not focus – to the almost total exclusion of all other interests – on the targets not the converted. The lessons from the SNP and UKIP is that they are perceived to be better at talking to voters than their rivals. The SNP in particular has an extremely sharp operation. LibDens rightly reject the narrow nationalism of both these parties, but there’s no denying that the SNP uses advanced communications thinking and techniques to reach its voters. To dismiss its positioning as simply crude nationalism would be a mistake. That is certainly going on but so is a great deal more. It is a highly professional machine.

  • I’m with Denis: “it can’t be done in one word but in two – freedom and fairness”.

  • Sorry not keen on it!

  • Drew Durning 28th Nov '16 - 11:17am

    I agree with @Denis
    “it can’t be done in one word but in two – freedom and fairness.”

    A strapline should be memorable, distinctive and encapsulate the core message. So maybe we need three words: “Liberty, Equality, Community” is possibly a bit too French revolution but does some up where we come from as a party.

  • Sue Sutherland 28th Nov '16 - 1:53pm

    I agree Martin that we need a simple message that is also emotive because too often we Lib Dems get drawn into the nitty gritty of policies, which, while it is essential to developing those policies, puts people off. Most of us, I think are happy with the preamble to our constitution and would like to see that reflected in all our policy making, but I think we would have to check that out with members.
    There is a group working on “Our Lib Dem Vision” who have surveyed members about the sort of society we want and I think your talents and skills would help to promote that vision to members of the public. I’m not sure that freedom is the right word because I’m very keen to give people hope in these times of austerity and would like us to stick up for the powerless in our society, but other members will probably think differently.

  • Laurence Cox 28th Nov '16 - 2:07pm

    @Martin Roche
    I am still unconvinced by your agument that we are the Party of Freedom and should be emphasising this, because freedom is an abstract idea that means different things to different people. What I would prefer to do is to go back to a slogan from our past “People First”, because that emphasises our pragmatic approach. We know that change advantages some people and disadvantages others and we should be looking at what we can do to help those disadvantaged by change.

    If you have not already read the essays in the Agenda 2020 essay competition on the Party’s web site I suggest that you do so.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Nov '16 - 2:08pm

    Why can a few on here at times not see the futility in retreading the orange book vs social Liberal nonsense debate?! That book was a mixture of ideas and ideas people . It had a forward by our much loved and lamented Charles Kennedy and indeed was encouraged by many like him , some included in the book , not obviously remotely , centre right anything of the sort , unless Sir Vince has morphed over the years !

    What this party needs is individual liberty with common sense . I say it and mean it and show it . So many in our party and our country do . A good number too on this site do.

    We could start by stopping polarisation and try connection . With people . With new ideas. With strong policies in the mainstream .

  • Martin Roche 28th Nov '16 - 2:48pm

    Sue, very interesting about the LD vision. I’d profer three questions to ask ourselves (you could ask the same questions of any political party).

    1. How will the LDs make my life better?
    2. How are the LDs different from/better than Labour and the Tories? (I’m assuming most know the difference between LDs and the SNP, Greens and UKIP, but I fear substantial numbers now have little inkling and rarely encounter political discussion).
    3. Can I trust them?

    There’s obviously a bit of a Nick Clegg issue with trust, though my instinct is that far less of an issue now than it was. Also, Tim Farron seems to be coming across as a man of conviction and principle and daily grows in stature.

    I’ve been looking at a lot of digital/online behaviours. It is staggering how powerful these things now are and the most striking is the compartments and bubbles that people now live. Millions live in digital silos, almost oblivious to anything that does not immediately affect their social circle. They also put great trust in what other members of the circle say and in their options. It is a new form of tribalism; if you’re not part of my tribe I will discount or ignore what you say and give weight to the views of others in the tribe. Westminster is not the only bubble.

    Many millions don’t watch news programmes, have never seen Question Time and don’t read a newspaper. Even the interested classes are much harder to reach because jobs are much more demanding. For many people I know, Sunday evening is work time for e-mailing to plan the next week. News and media is more fragmented than at any time in history. For spice, add the distrust of the political classes/establishment. Deciding what we say to the electorate is one (hard) thing, but much much harder is getting them to hear us and support us.

    There is a fourth important question and that is “Do people like me vote LidDem?” In that is a question floating in many of these threads. Are we now solidly the party of the urban educated living in affluent places? If it is to be more than that, what are we offering that would appeal to the many other groups who once might have voted LD but don’t any more?

    By the way, I wouldn’t dream of putting any of my views forward on the constitution. I once tried to change the constitution of a small independent school where I chaired the board. I still have the scars.

  • Richard Easter sounds so sensible I can’t imagine what he is doing in the Liberal Democrats in the first place. Luckily our country, and the world in general seems to have reached “peak liberal”.

  • Ian Hurdley 28th Nov '16 - 4:29pm

    @Laurence Cox
    I accept that freedom is a word that allows a whole spectrum of meanings. However, that is no reason to dismiss it. Rather, it is for us to get across to the electorate what freedom means to US. Rather than declaring ourselves to be ‘on the side of’ this, that or the other group, an approach which implies that we are NOT on the side of those who are not in the group, under the banner of spelled-out freedoms we demonstrate in practical ways that we do indeed (and alone among UK parties) put people first.

  • @Little Jackie Paper
    Can’t let your comment go without a thumbs up. As a keen remainer I understand why a lot of leavers voted the way they did. The frustrating thing about the current situation is that there is a lot of good in the EU if our government had the empathy and skill to play the game properly and in the interests of ordinary people.

  • Martin Roche – Comment: 28/11 @ 10:03 am

    “In the end though, strategic communications decisions have to be taken by leaders. Consultation is not infrequent, but committees tend to seek compromises that seek to deal with internal concerns … “

    I absolutely agree about this and also the earlier sentence about the desirability of management being open. The committee-heavy and process-driven Lib Dem organisation could have been designed to promote navel-gazing and negate the possibility of strategic leadership. Obviously, that wasn’t the intention but it is how it turned out.

    That is a big part of the reason why, after over 25 years, the party still hasn’t developed a ‘narrative’ which is, I believe, the term of art for a recognisable and consistent story of what it’s essentially about still less a strategic slogan to summarise that narrative. In particular, the party has failed to develop a proper understanding of how the economy actually works leaving it without a proper critique of the self-serving propaganda-disguised-as-economics put out by the Conservatives.

    That said, I’ve been thinking about ‘freedom’ since your earlier post and can’t see that it should have a central role because it is used to mean so many contradictory things and is too easily used to justify extreme positions, especially the interpretation popular with the far right, namely freedom for the powerful to be above the law – although, naturally, they put it like that but talk in terms of, for example, ‘free markets’. In fact, all markets work to laws and rules but if some people don’t recognise that it leaves those that do free to make rules to suit themselves.

  • Simon Banks 28th Nov '16 - 5:26pm

    People count: One, Two, Three…

    People matter: apply the test of whether the opposite statement has legs.

    In my view, Liberalism is about active freedom and is about what people actually have the ability to do, so poverty is as complete a barrier to many things as is a legal prohibition. It doesn’t matter who or what is stopping you having any chance of a good education or whatever. There has been any amount of discussion about this kind of issue as part of the 2020 exercise and Your Liberal Britain.

    Richard Easter has some good points (though I wish he had made them on just the one thread, having just moved from the other one he posted on) and there are answers around devolution, new sources of local government finance (failing to stop the disproportionate squeeze on local government was one of our chief failing in the coalition), decent public services and an attitude to outsourcing that is not ideologically for or against and demands a balanced appraisal – so a cheaper, worse service with poorer safety standards doesn’t automatically win out.

    But put it in context. Most people in the UK are in comfortable circumstances, far better off than their predecessors or the vast majority of the people of the world. I understand anger in Merthyr, but they just voted against one of their main sources of support. People in many places are angry and intolerant though they have nice houses, nice gardens, nice cars and nice income. They aren’t Les Miserables rising.

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Nov '16 - 6:30pm

    Martin Roche, thank you for at last communicating directly with me (though my name has an ‘a’ in the middle), which prevents any misunderstandings. (It did rather appear that you were assuming I had plenty of rationality but no understanding of the emotional side of our project!) Of course I understood that your remarks about the car industry were about communication, since the whole of my life’s work has been as a communicator too. I imagine that our party marketing department will be looking on at this debate and thinking, yes, we know about all this, and our press releases are pretty sharp! That’s not to say that your skills and experience won’t be of value to the party, I’m sure they can be.
    Let’s not reinvent, however. As colleagues have said, above, we have the Preamble. Denis Loretto, from that you could add a word, as Drew Durning wrote, to say Freedom, fairness and community. The Preamble and the whole Liberal Democrat philosophy are spelt out in Consultation Paper 121, part of Agenda 2020, presented to the Federal Conference at Bournemouth last year. But I of course agree with Laurence Cox that the word freedom by itself won’t do.

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Nov '16 - 6:52pm

    There’s a lot to reply to, and I’ve been told to start again if I want to! The next point I want to make is that there seems to be a certain confusion arising, as to whether we are here looking for a good headline or for a convincing message for the person on the street. If the latter, then, Ian Hurdley, your last point just shows how hopeless it would be to use ‘freedom’ for our on-street discussion – we should be half-an-hour discussing the particular freedoms we Lib Dems believe in. I think our position and beliefs on the EU are the ideal topic for this, because it means so much to us, past, present and future. And, Martin, we can answer your first two questions – How will the Lib Dems make my life better? And how are the LDs different from the Tories or Labour? – through such a discussion. However, the EU question is not our only resource. As Ian Hurdley says, we used to say ‘People first’. And that links with the traditional response we have, which will still be understood – that Labour is the party of the trade unions, that the Tories are the party of big business and finance, and that we are the party for ordinary people. We need, though, to develop our policies as Richard Easter and the chaps commenting on his comment suggest, to have solid solutions to offer.

  • Just had a quick read of Mark’s updated infographic

    Any light bulb moments here?

    The party that gives people control over their lives?

  • Martin Roche 28th Nov '16 - 8:37pm

    That’s me told off them. I think I’ll opt for the many more constructive comments that seek to build not dismiss.

  • Hi Martin
    I’m sure you’re familiar with the social styles (insights) model.
    What I notice more and more are that most Lib Dems who engage with Lib Dem voice are ‘blue’. There are very few (red/yellows – inspiring motivators) that I’ve come across here yet. Quite a few amiable greens. It’s, in my view fundamentally unbalanced as a ‘consultation platform’. It is a debating club first and foremost, which has it’s place of course.
    It interests me even more that most see themselves as outward looking ‘towards’ type people. My experience over the last few weeks is the opposite. Many appear the classic ‘away’ types who retreat to their own positions of perceived safely.
    Many no doubt feel threatened by change, often I guess feel life long views are being threatened by new ideas, new ways of looking at old problems and new people coming in with ideas that seem very different to what they are used to.
    The world is moving incredibly fast, social media and the internet generally has changed the dominant channels of communication beyond all recognition.
    You are a professional in the field of communication – Ian Hurdley in his last paragraph (8.09am), summarised the issue perfectly I think.
    You have tirelessly tried to educate everyone in what the strategy/process could be if people choose to engage, some have, but as I said in my first post on this thread, the naysayers have dominated. This is sad.
    Maybe ‘The party of Freedom’ isn’t the finished article, but like you and Ian have said, it’s the failure to engage in a meaningful way with the process that I find most worrying.
    I hope you will keep trying to educate – your expertise and knowledge is needed here more than ever. Kindest Mike 🙂

  • Martin Roche 28th Nov '16 - 10:31pm

    Mike, I am grateful for your encouragement and that of Ian (and others). Having made the momentous (at least for me) decision to join the LDs I’ll keep trying to persuade people to build a better castle. Next week: Five questions every new LD should ask.

  • Martin 3:54
    Taiwan has reached peak liberal. Many of its students study science and engineering.
    I wonder which country England or Taiwan is going to do better in the future.

  • Richard Easter
    Many years ago I worked in a factory. Many of the workers there had their own small businesses. People may be a lot more enterprising than you think.

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Nov '16 - 1:45am

    Martin, for a pair of communicators we have not done very well together here. I thought before launching your second article you might have commented on mine, meant as a linked thread, on Liberalism, and you never replied to my points on either of your articles until late on in this one, which made me feel excluded despite the similarities of our backgrounds. But I am not known as a naysayer, and I have tried also to be constructive. I do think the party of freedom is a dead rabbit, with others agreeing, but maybe Freedom, fairness and community links the party principle with your idea. And I have suggested how one may communicate with the people in the street. What I should like to learn from you is, your ideas on how we can communicate with the people locked away, as you vividly described, in their own on-line bubbles these days. And, Mike S., please enlighten me on the social styles (insights) model and enlarge your thoughts on that. I am always willing to learn, and do so often from LDV comments, such as the practical ideas of reform mooted above. Regards to you both.

  • @ Manfarang
    “The Liberal Democrats are the party of Liberty.”

    When Martin Roche first raised this idea, I commented in support of “the party of freedom” while saying I prefer “liberty”. Can you tell me the differences?

    @ Martin Roche
    “It might be wise to have three freedoms to and three freedoms from.”

    Freedom from poverty.
    Freedom to be themselves.
    Freedom to have a roof over your head (or freedom from being homeless).
    Freedom to have a wage you can live on and bring up a family on.

    @ Richard Easter

    I would like the Liberal Democrats to be the party that will run the economy to keep unemployment below 3% of the working aged population. We need to support the new National Minimum wage. If we can manage the economy so that everyone earns at least 60% of average earnings and everyone can be employed and those unemployed are only a few people between jobs then the problems you point out will disappear, because if someone is made redundant they can get another job easily. A return to how employment was in the 1960’s and 70’s.

    @ Martin
    “I assumed he was inviting suggestions. I suggested Freedom To develop individual potential and Freedom From deprivation as possibilities.”

    Shouldn’t it be the freedom to develop and fulfil your potential? (The problem will be in delivering it for everyone.)

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Nov '16 - 5:55am


    If you are feeling excluded or left out on here no wonder you have such feeling for those feeling it in the wider context !

    Our new and valued friend Mike S on here, has said , and he has early on singled you and me out for exceptional status to his initial rule of thumb, which is kind of him, that many people come on here to ram their opinion down people’s throats and not engage in actual reflection or conversation.

    For all our sakes we need to not miss each other’s ideas on here . But , as we are all individuals . Often we are many of us left out !

    What we need as a party is firstly for members to feel more involved by being more sure of what we stand for .And I come back to it . Yes freedom and fairness. But my preference is , individual liberty, common sense!

    Watch as Paul Nuttall does that for us , with very many different policies and attitudes to us , but more publicity !

  • Michael BG
    Tories talk of freedom. Tory freedom is freedom to starve.

    Yes it would be good to get back to full employment but that requires
    an acceptance of structural change. There is no room for subsidizing loss making companies. They have to be restructured. Workers have to be willing to be retrained.
    As I said many years ago I worked in a factory. I didn’t wait for it to fold but I moved on.

  • Hi Katharine
    “Insights training” (note to moderators – I have no commercial interest in this programme, simply answering Katharine’s question above) is a global people development programme that helps organisations get the best from their teams & leaders.
    At it’s heart, it is about understanding ourselves and others – how two people can look at the same thing and yet both see something different.
    It is about developing a greater insight into how we all communicate with each other and why, and how we can all improve our communication for a better outcome
    It builds awareness of how your unique view is formed by your own individual perceptions and beliefs.
    If you can understand where these perceptions and beliefs come from, you can then begin to understand why other people see things differently.
    It takes the idea that everyone is made up of 4 colour energies – but we usually have a preference for one or two – these form the basis of our social style and how we communicate with each other.
    It deals with introverts, extroverts, thinking & feeling traits and how various combinations of the colour energies and these traits combine to form ‘your unique profile’
    Many Sales & Marketing companies I know put their employees through this course in order to increase self awareness, build more effective teams and engage/build trust with customers. Trainers, Coaches, Counsellors, Psychologists etc will usually have completed something similar.
    You can google “insights training – the 4 colour energies” if you wish to pursue further.
    But I’ll provide some links below to give you a flavour.

  • Neil Sandison 29th Nov '16 - 2:22pm

    I agree with Drew .I have also heard conservatives call the selves the party of freedom and choice (if you can afford it ) Liberty ,Equality and Community sums us up and is not one dimensional. who cares if it sounds a bit French it has served us well for 400 years .It also fits into the preamble of the constitution .Classical Liberals and Social Liberal s are non conformist in their DNA .Standing out from the crowd with real principles is not a crime .What is a crime is being unprincipled with no liberal tradition underpinning our core beliefs .

  • Martin Roche 29th Nov '16 - 2:29pm

    Katherine, I am sorry you felt excluded. It was not my intention, though you’ll appreciate that there is only so much time and with many people making excellent points it is impossible to respond to all. Indeed, the issue of time is fundamental to my case. When I argue for simplification it is not the same as arguing for being simplistic. The fact is we are not breaking through. I don’t hold anyone in the party responsible for that. Stuff happens. But we all have a responsibly to think harder than we have perhaps thought before about how to rectify the position.

    David Ogilvy, probably the greatest professional ommunicator of the 20th century) said, “Make sure you have a Vice=President in charge of revolution, to engender ferment among your more conventional colleagues.”

    We need as many Vice Presidents in charge of revolution as we can get. I still think freedom has legs and will go on refining.

    Some have asked what;’s the difference between liberty and freedom. I would think most people would see no difference (and think it semantic to split hairs). In communication the feel and power of words matter. A single word can turn a speech, or article or ad. I prefer freedom. It is more commonly used and the more commonly used a word is the more powerful it is (“Short words are better, Short sentences are better still.” Churchill; “Use words ordinary people use” Ogilvy). Freedom is there for us to mould in our image. It is our idea of freedom that can light men’s souls. To get attention we have to exclaim, quickly, simply, compellingly. Of course, you would test any line on consumers first and members second. None of this is easy. If it were easy you could write it in five lines, but it’s not easy and it needs a great deal of work and many skills, none of which exist in one person.”

    Have we got any recent opinion research that tells us how people perceive the LDs? Always a good starting point to ask your customers.

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Nov '16 - 6:22pm

    Lorenzo, I have long appreciated you as someone who allows a human face to appear here, which gives me some sense of being in a community – I know a little bit about your circumstances, and I see your willingness to listen and respond in a kindly way as a rare gift to the site. (I’ve only noticed you being angry once, and I think that was possibly the result of a misunderstanding!) Mike S. – hi, Mike! – thank you for sharing the Insight Discovery definitions, which I hadn’t come across before, and which are an enlivening way of exploring personalities. I looked back to your comment about them, and see that you regret not seeing many ‘red-yellow inspiring motivators’ among us all, and rightly pick up on people’s generally not seeing themselves as others see them. Of course we all have possibilities in ourselves to display or change parts according to our circumstances, as I was aware I was doing myself in contesting Martin, not usually putting forward that authoritarian and patronising tone, which I felt needful just then.
    One thing I would say though: remember, all active Liberal Democrats are rather brave people who espouse a minority cause with vigour: so, I love our party.

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Nov '16 - 6:54pm

    Martin Roche – hi, Martin. Thank you for coming back: you didn’t know me, so you didn’t feel any need to reply to me in particular. But I thought there was a good deal of shoddy thinking going on in comments about your first article, which intellectually stirred me; and I knew that my education and experience did fit me to reply to you. So I was first amused and then annoyed, and resorted to more and more heavy tactics to get you to reply to me! All’s well again now, and I accept you don’t see my first name as misspelt, and still see freedom as your key word in spite of our arguments: o.k.! On substance, I do agree with you that it is difficult for the party to make an impact, when we are a centrist party striving to motivate a largely moderate centrist population. It is the exact dilemma which made our advertising so feeble in the run-up to the May ’15 election, which got no further really than saying we’re just like you and not as bad as either of the others, and I am currently reading Nick Clegg’s book to find out what he thinks now about it. However, we do fortunately have a separate and distinct voice in regard to the EU and what we want to happen in this post-Referendum situation, which is winning us many supporters, and some famous names among them: this is excellent and continuing good publicity , and allows us to answer the useful questions you posed about why people should vote for us. We publicists and communicators thus have time to think, and we may find that we are no longer grey, but distinctive, as all this works out in the next couple of years. Less need for slogans, but still the same need to work at local level, as Tim would say – and do please check out the invaluable ALDC and join it, as I have done: they do have some answers even to the question of how to contact the mass of people in their social-media bubbles, which I put to you.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Nov '16 - 8:39pm

    @ Martin Roche,
    The most recent poll that I can find is a YouGov Poll, “Public View of the Liberal Democrats is as bleak as ever’, but that carried out in 2015 before Tim Farron was elected leader.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Nov '16 - 9:03pm

    @ Martin Roche,
    I forgot to mention,
    ‘ In search of the lost Lib Dems’ , a youGov survey where the main finding chimed with my own feelings at the time,

  • Hi Katharine
    Final comment from me here as after a couple of days we are probably just talking to each other now, but I think it’s important to try and ease your fears.
    To be honest, these two threads have surprised me for 2 reasons – the apparent general lack of understanding about multi channel marketing and mass communication strategy’s
    and the threat that some see to their values and what the party stands for, as evidenced by the number of comments which simply appear to be defending language.
    I believe these perceived threats are unfounded and that the issue is that many people simply have no experience of what is being suggested here.
    Over the years I have been responsible, as part of a large sales team for rolling out a number of marketing strategies to customers and to be frank, on a number of occasions, we in the sales team, on first view of the latest campaign, have thought the Marketing dep’t must have had one too many babysham’s in the bar the previous evening!
    However, once out on the road testing and implementing, almost always it’s clear it has been tested and piloted in advance with real customers and we very quickly get an emotional response and ‘buy in’ as long as we stick to the key messages, the language suggested and implement the strategy rigorously.
    This brings me to language and probably one of the key points I think Martin is trying to get across – drum roll ………. The target audience here is not us/the internal customers!
    This may be hard for some not used to Marketing strategy – but it actually doesn’t matter what we think, only what causes an emotional response and engagement in the customer (the voter). That is why you have to use the language that tests best with them.
    Right – second point equally important. This in no way means we – to each other, can’t continue to communicate in OUR language, liberty, community, Liberal etc to each other. It in no way dilutes the values of what the Lib Dems stand for and believe in.

  • Cont’d
    The whole point of mass communication is to get that engagement and emotional ‘buy in’ from the 50 couples that walk past you when you are having your 2 min chat to the one couple who are happy to talk to you. In short, to be effective in the digital/media age you need multiple channels of communication/marketing targeted at different groups.
    The bottom line is, maximum reach and maximum effectiveness. There is of course much more to it than this, but does this help in any way alleviate your fears?

    Now – the Insight’s stuff. To be honest I hesitated to send this, simply because too little information can actually be counterproductive. When I did it, it was a full day course, with a couple of follow up days. It is very powerful not just in terms of how to build effective balanced teams with most strengths and weaknesses covered, but it opens up other important issues around leadership styles/decision making – participatory, democratic, autocratic, delegate, laissez-fair etc.
    The other point to note is that no one colour is better or more important than another. The ideal team/party/debating platform would have equal numbers of Blue, Green. Red and Yellow to maximise the effectiveness of the whole, but that rarely happens in the real world. An issue however arises when one or two colours dominate and the dynamics become unbalanced and as a result less effective.
    So for example if you have a lot of introverted analytical blue types, the danger is that a ‘team’ will not agree on any strategy because there is never enough evidence, it’s never perfect, it never feels comfortable and safe enough.
    Every other colour has it’s own set of strengths and weaknesses. That’s where you need decision makers who, when there is enough evidence to give a high chance of success are able to just run with it, even though it might not be perfect. Otherwise (particularly on a public ideas generating platform), someone else has already stolen your best ideas and has lapped you around the track whilst your lot are still arguing about a word or data point on the start line. I hope this helps at least start to alleviate some fears

  • @ Manafarang

    You correctly state that the Tories have a different view of freedom to us, which you reject. A policy of full employment does not mean giving subsidies to loss making companies, it is about managing the economy with a mixture of Keynesian and Monetary policies not macro managing companies. I do wonder if there is any evidence that workers are unwilling to retrain. I would be surprised if there is.

    However you wrote, “I was once thrown on the scrapheap but against the odds, I overcame many difficulties” and “As I said many years ago I worked in a factory. I didn’t wait for it to fold but I moved on”. Is this one event? We as a party should not be presenting that we have no sympathy or policies to help those people who have problems with recovering from being made redundant.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Nov '16 - 1:12am

    Mike, thank you for taking so much trouble to inform me. I was slightly involved in mass marketing at the Open University, but only at a late stage when it was fairly established, so I do appreciate your drawing my attention to multi-channel and multi-dimensional strategies (editorial eye leads me gently to point out, not strategy’s, nor yet it’s unless you mean it is! – forgive me, daughter of an English-teacher mother, literals leap out at me!), which are very relevant to our LD work, and which I now hope you will have a chance to have input to yourself. As to teams, I am fascinated by the Insight teaching you have sent me the links to, and several of which I have looked at now, since the colour division of psychological types I was unfamiliar with. However, I was part of teams at the Open University, and did informally study personality types in theory and practice, and how the types made for effective teams, as you describe – and read the book about running successful companies by the American John Peters, not that I was ever in a position to implement his ideas! I did note my own place in those teams, and the psychology of it, and loved being in them. Nowadays I am a one-to-one worker in my counselling, though my BACP training to be accredited did include some fascinating group involvement as well as personal therapy. Enough – thanks very much, and goodnight! I am sure we shall encounter on another thread, and meantime I can see that the party is lucky to have your knowledge, experience and insights. Kind regards.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Nov '16 - 1:34am

    PS Mike, you spelled strategies right further on, and used its correctly too – silly me. Am aggravated in my local town, Cockermouth, by the number of shop signs which suggest the shop owners think plurals need an apostrophe before the s. Hopefully I can think great thoughts as well as tiny ones sometimes – or, well, occasionally try to! Let’s hope the people of Richmond Park are thinking good thoughts about us this week.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Nov '16 - 5:03am

    Katharine Pindar

    You are a Liberal treasure !

    That’s a national treasure in more localist Liberalspeak !

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