TIG’s not it

When you are an active member of a political party, the amount of the infrastructure of your life that is embedded in it is colossal. My husband knows that we have a bird of liberty as well as a spaniel determinedly pushing its way between us when we try to grab some time together.

Our lives revolve round election cycles and meetings and protest marches. And this blog.

Most of my best friends are in the Liberal Democrats. To be honest, I think they would still be my best friends wherever our lives took us, but, still, I share stuff with them that if we were in different parties I wouldn’t be able to any more.

Making the decision to leave is difficult and painful and not at all easily taken.

So when I see people leaving the Labour Party when they have finally reached the end of their rope with Jeremy Corbyn, I know how hard it must have been for them. I respect them for having the courage to do so.

I like some of them a lot on a personal level and I have no problem with working with them on the areas where we share common aims.

However, I am underwhelmed by their statement of values on their website. Some of them are fine – just a bit motherhood and apple pie.However, parts of it made me cringe:

…the first duty of government must be to defend its people and do whatever it takes to safeguard Britain’s national security.

It’s a bit hawkish. I get that they are trying to get away from the spectre of Corbyn, but the first thing above all else, when 3 million of our citizens are about to have their rights massively downgraded and people have trouble putting food on the table? Really?

There are also some real deserving/undeserving poor undertones to it – and an echo of that awful phrase “hard working families.”

I think the thing that bothered me most, though, was:

We believe that our parliamentary democracy in which our elected representatives deliberate, decide and provide leadership, held accountable by their whole electorate is the best system of representing the views of the British people.

I get that they are restating the obvious that democracy is a good thing, but you can’t say that politics is broken and then say that our way of doing it is best. How much more powerful would it have been if they had said, as we do, that our political institutions need redesigning and rebuilding so that people get the Parliament that they ask for. If they did, the country would not be in its current disastrous pickle.

I lived through the birth of the SDP 40 years ago and it genuinely felt exciting. They used phrases like “breaking the mould” and talked about pursuing a reforming agenda in every area of life. This doesn’t have that coherent approach. It’s like TIG’s members can agree what they’re against – the various circles of Hell in Corbyn’s Labour – but writing a coherent vision statement has not come easy. In some ways their statement is more cry of pain than beacon lighting our path.

I just think all of us in that progressive space in politics are missing a huge trick. Isn’t it time to have a modern day Chartist thing – like Charter 88.

That organisation was actually really successful when you look at it – human rights, freedom of information, devolution, all achieved.

What could a modern day movement for political change ask for? Well, most of our policies in the area, for a start. PR so people get the Parliament they ask for. I mean, there has been some mention of the “will of the people” in some quarters who see no irony in maintaining a political system that gives them all the advantage.

Protecting the human rights and civil liberties legislation that is now under threat from the Conservatives must be in there too. So must getting unelected people out of Parliament. And sorting out party funding to take away the inbuilt advantage of Labour and Tories. And all of this presented as what it is – giving up control from the centre to the people.

What our politics needs is a proper shake up done with vigour and radicalism and the willingness to enact meaningful reform. From what I’ve seen in its first 24 hours. TIG’s not the body to deliver that.

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

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Denis Mollison 19th Feb '19 - 7:47am

    I agree, their explanations for their split are uninspiring.

    What worries me most is their timing. I hope I’m wrong, but splitting now seems likely to make getting a People’s Vote more difficult. The 7 have been free to vote with their conscience on Brexit, so why could they not have waited until that’s resolved?

  • OnceALibDem 19th Feb '19 - 8:57am

    Certainly when you step away from a political party you take the knife to what you thought wer friendships – and realise they were actually just tribal unities

    “That organisation (charter 88) was actually really successful when you look at it – human rights, freedom of information, devolution, all achieved. ”

    Which was acheieved by Lib Dem engagement with the Blair Labour party – mainly when in opposition. Led to the 97-01 government delivered more meaningful change than the coalition.

    But this is really just Caron dressing up her tribalism in the language of co-operation. Like other Lib Dems she worries about the impact of any Labour split driving the Lib Dems further out of the news and any meaningful role in UK politics.

    Vince recognises that the Lib Dems are close to a done deal – that’s why he wants people outside the party leading it and as MPs.

  • Caron, with the very, very greatest of respect, I get the feeling that your relationship with the Liberals, Liberal Democrats, is based on love, not hard headed, practical decisions. Both are probably required but in the end the latter are what count, hence the failure of the party to see sense and leave the coalition in 2013/4, something the reverberates and haunts us to this day. Rather like a partner who is constantly abused by the other, in the end, love is not enough and the future has to be considered. We are going nowhere, the last election saw our chances of winning seats further diminish, as we lost so many second places and suffered £180K in lost deposits. Current polling says we are either at the same level or just above, well until yesterday when we are going to suffer even more at the hands of a new movement. In the short term the practical steps are to embrace it, support it and get what we can from it, not critcise it. In my experience finding negatives and being critical is easy, I suggest we need to identify the positives and get with it, otherwise yet another opportunity will disappear because we are too slow or too proud to grasp it. Hope you publish this.

  • Denis Mollison 19th Feb '19 - 10:37am

    @theakes – “In the short term the practical steps are to embrace it, support it and get what we can from it, not criticise it. ”
    But what is there in it to embrace and support? We agree with the 7 on Brexit, but what else? I want to see a positive agenda with tackling climate change in a socially just way at the top of its priorities; that requires a different way of looking at the economy which I don’t see coming from these people.

  • You don’t have to be a Farage fan to see why the new brexit party is attracting support, he is a big personality and they have a clear objective. Many voters feel let down by the current main parties and are attracted to something new. Unfortunately, the “Independent Group” don’t feel new. They look and sound like the “more of the same party” who still can’t accept the referendum result. I’m sure more MP’s will join them, but at the moment it’s hard to see them why people would vote for them.

  • I think you are being unfair Caron. They haven’t left Labour in order to please Liberal Democrats.

    When you say “What our politics needs is a proper shake up done with vigour and radicalism and the willingness to enact meaningful reform”, I totally agree. But why is that the job of TIG’s 7 MPs? What about the long established liberal party with 13 MPs, offices across the country and around 100,000 members?

    Some people are asking “why don’t they just join the Lib Dems?”. I don’t really care, but if you do, ask them. I do care that with Brexit a few weeks away we are still only on 10% in the polls, and all the news headlines and commentary about TIG is just starving us of oxygen.

  • Robert Irwin 19th Feb '19 - 12:36pm

    Yes, that is the first duty of government. There are people out there who interpret kindness as weakness and only respect strength.
    The current Labour inner circle was quick to accept the Kremlin explanation for Salisbury instead of that of our intelligence services. They are not fit to govern.

  • Sue Sutherland 19th Feb '19 - 12:59pm

    As Caron says the seven are trying to get away from the spectre of Corbyn and I think their statement shows just how awful that spectre has become if they have to put the safety of the country as the first item on the agenda. To me this implies that Corbyn and his team are not concerned about the safety and welfare of our country which is a very serious matter indeed. Their defection also seems to show that the Labour Party is now being run along the lines of an authoritarian state with class warfare as its ideology.
    In that case who can the people suffering appalling lives turn to for help? We have to step up and clearly show that we offer them a better life with hope for the future.

  • Piers Allen 19th Feb '19 - 2:35pm

    Caron calls it right, and one word sums it up: uninspiring.

    Are any TIGers going to be invited to speak at York?

  • David Allen 19th Feb '19 - 5:12pm

    Uninspiring, eh? Methinks all those tribalists out there are just desperate to be uninspired!

  • Governments first duty is indeed to ensure the safety of its citizens, both physically/territorially and, these days, virtually. Then to create and maintain systems of open democracy and independent justice. Thirdly to police compliance with law. All else follows. Why this needs spelling out defies belief. Although, on this site these days, maybe not beyond belief.

  • John Probert 20th Feb '19 - 9:16am

    The Lib Dems should send an open letter to the Independent Group of MPs, setting out our core values and inviting them either to subscribe to these and join us or to state where they disagree (in which case there might be room for dialogue).

    The tide has now turned against Labour and we must provide dynamic leadership of the left in the cause of Liberal Democracy.

  • Steve Comer 20th Feb '19 - 4:28pm

    Well said Ruth (I’d managed to forget the awful ‘Alarm Clock Britain’ slogan if not the Marechal Petainesque “Stability, Unity, Decency” from 2015)).

    I think Adrian Slade, the last President of the pre-merger Liberal Party put this succinctly on another thread:
    “Soggy centrism has never worked and the process of arriving at a realignment that actually achieves something is very far from easy, particularly without reform of the electoral system. Radical Liberalism should be seen as a combination of open mind a strong streak of social and racial tolerance and internationalism, firmly based on a serious commitment to a fairer social structure and better health and education for all, in a world in which the environment is of real benefit to all rather than a threat to our future.
    That is what I believe the Liberal Democrats stand for, or should if they don’t….”

  • Teresa Wilson 21st Feb '19 - 3:17pm

    ‘They look and sound like the “more of the same party” who still can’t accept the referendum result. I’m sure more MP’s will join them, but at the moment it’s hard to see why people would vote for them.’

    There are a lot of people out there who also don’t accept the referendum result.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

This post has pre moderation enabled, please be patient whilst waiting for it to be manually reviewed. Liberal Democrat Voice is made up of volunteers who keep the site running in their free time.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • John Waller
    Thank you, William. Tom Arms offered us Warfare or Welfare. Hopefully our larger body of MPs will push the new government hard to analyse the causes of th...
  • Jenny Barnes
    Godalming & Ash :)) and my little legs are all worn down from delivering hundreds of leaflets. The local Town Fair had a lib dem event for children : H...
  • Mick Taylor
    @PeterMartin. Uncritical support of the EU??? Not at all. Liberals all over the EU are very critical of the EU and want to make a lot of changes. I'm sure they'...
  • Alex Macfie
    @Peter Martin: No-one was saying that at all, except maybe @Adam who is relying on BtL comments on news articles which cannot be taken as representative of anyt...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Chris, Adam and David, So can we all agree (except perhaps Alex ) that being in favour of the EU does require uncritical support? This is a big problem...