Tim Farron: Why would any sane progressive give Labour a second glance?

Today Labour leader Ed Miliband made a pitch for disaffected Lib Dem members at his first monthly press conference as Leader of the Opposition, saying,

…Today I want to make an offer to Liberal Democrats: To those who are reluctant to abandon ship, but are concerned at the direction of their party, I invite them to work with us on issues of common interest.

Commenting on Mr Miliband’s ‘offer’ of policy input, Liberal Democrat President-elect Tim Farron said:

Labour have just spent 13 years sucking up to Rupert Murdoch and George Bush – why would any sane progressive even give them a second glance?

As part of the Coalition Government, Liberal Democrats have started fixing Labour’s economic mess, taking millions of people out of Income Tax and reforming British politics. Things Labour had 13 years to do but failed to deliver.

The Liberal Democrats have also announced more cash for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, one of the biggest moves to improve social mobility in decades.

Continuing that work is something far more attractive to Liberal Democrats than helping Ed Miliband’s increasingly desperate attempts to work out what he actually stands for.

However, if he is serious about co-operation then the first thing he should do is stop the Labour Party’s attempts to block the referendum on electoral reform that he claims to support.

And Tim Farron’s not the only one expressing distaste at Labour’s offer. Former Conservative Prime Minister John Major has said the idea of Labour reaching out to Liberal Democrats in this way “made his ‘blood boil’. He said the Conservatives and Lib Dems had come together in the national interest and said this was not a time “to be playing party games”. [BBC]

Party games? The Liberal Democrats aren’t up for a game of sardines, as I told the BBC last month.

It’s not going to happen, we’re separate parties. We’ve agreed to work together at the moment for the sake of the nation. But it doesn’t mean we’re about to merge any time soon.

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  • Labour have just spent 13 years sucking up to Rupert Murdoch and George Bush – why would any sane progressive even give them a second glance?

    *cough* The Liberal Democrats are in coalition with the Conservatives *cough*

    Maybe that’s why.

  • The fact is you will never please the left-leaning Lib Dem activists with an irrational hatred of the Tories.

  • But ‘sane’ ‘progressives’ should give the Conservatives another chance after Thatcher?

    Guys, you do know that conservative is an antonym of progressive, right?

  • @Helen Duffett

    “It’s not going to happen, we’re separate parties. We’ve agreed to work together at the moment for the sake of the nation. But it doesn’t mean we’re about to merge any time soon.”

    Tell us this in four years when the leadership force the party to go into an election pact with the Tories. They will succeed because it will become clear that after 4 years of Nick Clegg there will be no other way for the party to survive.

    I am sure that you and others will be telling us then that nothing you said actually meant what it meant, and that a permanent merger with the Conservatives would be the most progressive thing, not just for Britain, but for the world… nay the universe.

    Just one question: Why should I or any other ex-lib dem member trust a word that any spokesperson for this party says?

  • “Labour have just spent 13 years sucking up to Rupert Murdoch and George Bush”

    Correct. However, what Tim omits to point out is that Cameron’s Tories are even deeper in the pockets of the US military-industrial complex and billionaire families than Blair-Mandelson and Brown-Mandelson ever were.

    Recall how Cameron became Leader of the Conservative Party. David Davis was the runaway favourite, while Cameron was an unknown being mentioned approvingly by the broadsheet press. Until, that is, “Newsnight” invited the Republican pollster and psychological manipulator, Frank Luntz, to run a bogus focus group in which he steered a group of ingenues into picking out Cameron as the leadership candidate who would transform the Tory Party’s prospects, while rubbishing Davis (with his pesky views on civil liberties and pechant for disobedience). Cameron was unbeatable from then on in.

    When Control Orders come up for renewal in January, I bet you that Clegg will fall into line. A lot of the party won’t, of course, and what will be really interesting is that many of those opposed to Control Orders come from the “libertarian” wing of the party which has been enthusiastically pro-Clegg and pro- “coalition” to date.

  • John Roffey 13th Dec '10 - 5:53pm

    I am not sure why the Party would wish to tie itself to either Labour or the Tories. Far better to stand alone and not be stained by either of their fundamental corruption. Temper their policies in coalition, but by staying independent of both, the Party’s future could be extremely rich.

    With Labour in such disarray and so much to answer for, left of center seems to hold many more opportunities.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 13th Dec '10 - 5:57pm

    Well I guess that’s that. LibDems and Tories, till death do you part.

  • Tony Dawson 13th Dec '10 - 5:58pm

    Mark, the Lib Dems are in coalition with one set of Tories. While ‘supping with the devil’ in the national interest, the question may well be asked, and opinions differ, as to whether the length of spoon being used is appropriate. The other lot of Tories, who have been ruling the UK for the past 13 years, besides their clear obsession with kow-towing to Murdoch and Bush, managed to exceed Mrs Thatcher in the manner in which they presided over an increase in the disparity between the amount of our nation’s wealth (and net income) enjoyed by rich and poor. To do this at the same time as sending the economy down the plug hole marks an unprecedented level of ‘genius’, the common threads of which are Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson, the former being advised for much of the period by a young policy wonk who rose to become Secretary of State for Sibling Change. Or Manifesto Change? This lot of incompetents remain largely in denial as to their own record and their own true nature. They couldn’t even get geared up for coalition negotiations. And now they dishonestly oppose anything and everything for opposition’s sake. How sad. How very sad.

  • @Mike(The Labour one)

    What suggests to you that Labour wouldn’t treat the Liberal Democrats (a party which won four fifths as many votes as they did at the last election) with even more disrespect and arrogance at the Tories?

    What precisely is there for us to want to work with in a party that is in denial about its role in wrecking the public finances and continues in its opportunistic posturing about cuts that it too would be making if it were in office?

    Even the points where we are supposedly in agreement with them, over electoral reform, they have failed to show any actions to match their words in all the 13 years they were in government.

    We may be trapped in a loveless marriage with the Tories but to suggest we should fall into bed instead with the ravaged, has-been hag that is the Labour party, dumped in disgust by the electorate just six months ago, is quite ridiculous.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 13th Dec '10 - 6:24pm

    Don’t think that I want Labour to be in coalition with you. When I said ’till death do you part’ I am relishing the prospect.

  • The fact is in a lot of areas, mine being Cambridge, the Lib Dems have campaigned as a party to the left of Labour.

    I was bombarded with literature in 2005 arguing that Ann Campbell (who voted against the Iraq war) should be replaced with a party who are anti-war, anti-plutocracy, for the common man and against the marketisation of anything and everything.

    It worked and they won Cambridge and retained it in 2010 on a oppostion to tuition fees and slowly phased cuts platform.

    Now we see Clegg and Alexander bundling onto Osbourne in celebration after swingeing cuts are announced and Vince Cable saying how proud he is to have trebeled “contributions”.

    Sickening that you call this progressive.

  • Leviticus18_23 13th Dec '10 - 6:52pm

    If you blame Labour long enough and loud enough, maybe you’ll start to believe it.

    The LibDems are selling out on everything. Control orders next…

    I’d take Labour up on their offer. The Conservatives will discard the LibDems at the next election. And so will the public. It’s going to be messy in the wilderness for another 60 years.

  • Patrick Smith 13th Dec '10 - 7:15pm

    I`m with those Lib. Dems. aka John Roffey et al ,who see the next 5 years of `Coalition Agreement’ as a new style of politics when the Leaders of 2 Parties are working together to confront the `National Defict’.

    The L/D influence has already introduced a new progressive taxation policy, when there is an abolition of tax on the first £10K,civil liberties now counts for children by the abolition of Contact point and Dention Centre at Yarlswood and has paved the way for the abolition of costly ID Cards and a sense that new young offenders will receive education and a targeted reduction of the high `recividism’ rates under a new Justice programme.

    A reading of `The End of the Party’–The Rise and Fall of New Labour by Andrew Rawnsley, shows that Labour over 13 years, had Brown and Blair constantly feuding at the fulcrum of government.

    Let`s not forget that during the pre-General Election Leader Debates the greatest public positive support sprang from Nick Clegg, when he invited the voters to consider that it was time for a `New Politics’ to clean up the mess.

    Labour recorded a modest 29.1% of the popular vote in May 2010 their lowest since 1931 : but the parodox is that they still managed to elect 258 MPs.

    Ed Milliband knows that he owes his postion to AV and that the FPTP system requires `Fair Votes’ reform on May 5th 2011.

    Labour failed on law and order,Health,Iraq and Afghanistan and Immigration and importantly had nothing to say on Civil Liberties or Prison Reform.

  • @Patrick Smith – “when there is an abolition of tax on the first £10K”

    The personal allowance is currently £6,475. In april 2011 it goes up to £7,475.
    It’s not £10,000. The LD policy has come to nothing.

  • jamie kells 13th Dec '10 - 8:01pm

    Nothing whatsoever irrational about my hatred of tories. Quite the opposite.

    The best you can say about them is, unlike the other two, they are consistent and faithful to their principles.

    Shame the principles they uphold are stomach churning

  • jamie kells 13th Dec '10 - 8:06pm

    And, ‘we’re not as bad as labour’ was the line at the last election. We now know you are.

  • Patrick Smith 13th Dec '10 - 8:09pm

    Paul B

    The abolition of tax paid on the first £10K is to be over the full term of a five year Parliament and is part of the `Coaliton Agreement’.It will benefit 8-9 million tax payers substantially,over this Parliament.

  • So, Ed Miliband was trying to make a (not so) ‘big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats” now?

    I guess his party should have thought of that sometime on the morning of 7th May 2010 – copying Cameron (but in a rather meaner fashion) seven months later, and after such a sustained campaign of vitriolic and hypocritical attacks, doesn’t look all that credible or attractive, to be honest.

  • My first ex member post. One of the reasons I resigned last week was because I am sick and tired of previously sensible Lib Dems sounding off in the media without any real notion of the wider impact. We have demonstrate that we/you are a party still unsure about what being in Govt means or how to combine this with an approach that safeguards future independence.

    Now Tim has blurted out a response to Miliband and Grayson. I thought we were supposed to believe in plural politics not some sort of childish ‘you’re not our current best friend’ approach. If there is to be any chance of retrieving the Lib Dem reputation and if the ‘new politics’ means anything more than the current Coalition or repackaging the old then the response should have been more mature. Tim could and should have given it a cautious but very sceptical welcome using it to underline our openness, difference and willingness to practice pluralism. But no he just blunders in to rake over past differences. Short sighted and tribal.
    He should know better.

  • Poppie's mum 13th Dec '10 - 9:48pm

    Mike(The Labour one)@
    Don’t think that I want Labour to be in coalition with you.
    When I said ’till death do you part’ I am relishing the prospect.

    I agree with Mike.
    As a new member of the Labour party [courtesy of the behaviour of Clegg, Cable & Alexander] I would hope that Labour never have the need to let the Lib Dems any where near government again.


  • David Le Grice 13th Dec '10 - 9:50pm

    Ed Milliband is the new Eric Pickles it seems! This love bomb seems to be an attempt to get libdems to suggest policies for him to outflank us with, somthing which no sane party member would do. Prehaps someone could send the labour policy reveiw a copy of the orange book with a note attached saying “your welcome to take the ideas in here”.

    None the less I wonder if Tims response was ill judged in its tone whatever his motives Ed Milliband was trying to look friendly, resonable and willing to work with others, somthing the electrorate will respond positively to.

    It may even be possible to work with labour on issues over which there is little interest in making them party political and possibly on issues which we particularly care about and will be able to get this government to takle any other cooperation should be with the government as a whole or after the election should labour win a majority(like labour didn’t do besides hold pointless meetings after 1997) or enters goverment in a hung parliarment.

  • Paul B

    The £10,000 figure doesn’t sound quite so impressive when you consider that if it rose by the current rate of inflation it would be over £8,000 by then anyway. When you take off the extra VAT they will be paying, it means even less.

  • ‘The North may replace the Romanians in the cherry orchards. That may be a good thing.’
    David Shakespeare, (described by The Telegraph as “the most senior Conservative councillor in the country”)

    “We’re going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it’s jolly expensive. But for those on benefits, there is every incentive. Well, that’s not very sensible.”
    (Howard Flight, new tory peer)

    Lord Young said a drop in mortgage rates “since this so-called recession” had left most people better off.
    He added “people will wonder what all the fuss was about” when looking back at the Government’s spending cuts, the deepest in more than 30 years and argued that 100,000 public sector job losses were “within the margin of error”.
    (Lord Young, tory peer and enterprise adviser to David Cameron)

    As he sat down, Mr Burns shook his head and described the Speaker, who is disliked by several Tories, as a “stupid, sanctimonious dwarf”. (Simon Burns, junior health minister) – an insult later reinforced by David Cameron.

    You must be so proud of your new friends, Mr Farron. I can see why you are so keen to be wedded to them.

  • Grammar Police 13th Dec '10 - 11:00pm

    @ Poppie’s mum – I’m sure you’re so proud to support the party of illegal invasion of Iraq, complicity in torture and allowing the US to opt out of the cluster bomb treaty? That’s not to mention the *great* economic policies from the Brown-as-PM era, and things like ensuring that families earning circa £50K can claim benefits, whilst people with disabilities are tested by Government doctors. If you’re happy with all that, but object to the Lib Dems and the Tories *daring* to work together, so much that you would join the Labour party. Well, then frankly I *never* want to be in coalition with a party that includes you amongst its members.

    @ Nigel, look how the tax threshold has risen since 1997, the recently announced increase of £1000 is the largest by a pretty long way.

    @ Olly – a former Lib Dem that doesn’t believe in electoral reform? One that thinks AV would allow coalition parties to “pass their preferences to each other” – I think it’s pretty unlikely. See also my response to Poppie’s mum above.

  • @Poppie’s mum. ” I would hope that Labour never have the need to let the Lib Dems any where near government again.” of course you don’t, you won’t be able to plunge more people into poverty thanThatcher, or go invading countries with the Yanks.

  • Grammar Police 13th Dec '10 - 11:06pm

    @ Nigel – I think most of the comments above are horrendous; sadly the electorate voted for 306 of them.

    Still, disliking the Tories doesn’t mean I have to believe Ed Miliband would be any better. His CV isn’t terribly appealing: economic adviser to Gordon Brown from 1997; chair of the the Council of Economic Advisers, responsible for long term economic planning in 2004; parachuted into a safe seat; voting AGAINST requiring Parliament to approve the deployment of our armed forces, and AGAINST an investigation into the Iraq War; wrote the 2010 Labour party election manifesto.

  • I disagree with Fallon for one reason, if plural politics is ever going to work (rather than a permanant link with one party), then all options need to be explored. Labour were spanked in May and they should rightly be assessing their positions and planning for the future.

    If the argument about Labours past were valid then they are equally valid of the Tories. Why then are the Lib Dems in coalition with the party that brought us the miners strike, poll tax riots etc etc etc…

    I would call their bluff, send a delegation to meet with Labour and start looking for points of agreement. It would show the Tories that they cannot be taken for granted and allow a cooling of the anti Labour retoric which will be needed if the AV vote is to stand any chance of success.

    Keeping distance from both main parties is the key to effective plural politics. Clegg and Co seem so anti Labour they will cut off their nose to spite their face.

  • Obviously I disagree with Farron not Fallon…
    Late night too much wine…

  • Grammar Police 13th Dec '10 - 11:37pm

    @ Steve, your suggestion isn’t a bad one – but a lot of the rhetoric is anti-Lib Dem from Labour (who, for example, promised to make the Lib Dems “extinct”?).

    And, imo, the recent history of the Labour party is an entirely valid counterpoint to the histrionics of Labour-supporting posters on this site about the coalition. To return to government, they need to deal with those issues – and it does not benefit democracy to allow them to sweep those things under the carpet. Most of the protagonists are still extremely senior members of the party.

  • I don’t see what the big issue is, Tories worked with the last Labour government, there are ex Labour ministers working with the present government, Tim Farron should maybe pause before biting at times, a party that is in bed with the Tories and has plenty of members uncomfortable about that should brush Ed Milliband with a bit more class, especially a party for whom working with other parties is a central plank of their existence.

  • @Grammer Police
    “but a lot of the rhetoric is anti-Lib Dem from Labour”
    Yes but Labour don’t need the Lib Dems for at least 4 more years, the Lib dems have a vested interest in toning down the insults if they want grass roots Labour activists to help the yes campaign in May..

    “and it does not benefit democracy to allow them to sweep those things under the carpet”
    I for one don’t suggest they do. But if Lib Dems want a left of centre option after the next election then they need to start setting the scene as early as possible. The more Milliband can push the party towards mutually agreeable positions the better. There will obviously be many areas of contention, but a sensible approach reduces these wherever possible and allows the parties to campaign on the differences.

    As for benefitting democracy, I never thought I’d say this but only the Tories are now still clinging to the policies they were elected to enact. Labour are (rightly) reviewing all their policies and the Lib Dems have damaged their democratic reputation by ignoring the pledge and whipping a vote against agreed party policy.

  • daft ha'p'orth 14th Dec '10 - 2:19am

    @Tony Dawson
    “This lot of incompetents remain largely in denial as to their own record and their own true nature. They couldn’t even get geared up for coalition negotiations. And now they dishonestly oppose anything and everything for opposition’s sake. How sad. How very sad.”

    Dishonest, you say? Pot, meet kettle (heh). Honesty in politics is neither practiced nor applauded. The quoted statement is pointing out the speck of sawdust in the other’s eye while ignoring the hefty lump of forestry currently protruding from the Lib Dems’ own.

    As to ‘why would any sane progressive give Labour a second glance?’ the obvious retort is ‘why would any sane progressive give any of the options a second glance?’ Conservatives are out by definition, Labour have spent the last thirteen years proving that they too can be Conservatives minus the natty tailoring and (some of the) unashamed arrogance, and the Lib Dems have demonstrated that they’re the guar gum of the coalition recipe.

    I agree with pre-election Nick; Britain deserves better. Honesty sounds like quite a good idea, so it’s a shame none of the parties use it (except maybe the Conservatives, who rather enjoy the controversy engendered by right-wing honesty). All this “the opposition are dishonest, we are honest; they oppose for the sake of opposition whilst our u-turns are morally defensible; regressive is progressive and everything we say is fair by definition” has an information payload no higher than the spiel of a bottler at a Punch and Judy show. Cameron’s behind you! Oh yes he is! Oh no he isn’t! A sane progressive naturally wants to use their vote, but if the options are Mr Punch, the Crocodile or Toby the Dog, the sane man might conclude that using that vote may have little influence on the character of the resultant discourse; no matter which of ’em wins, it’s a puppet show in the end.

  • Daniel Henry 14th Dec '10 - 4:01am

    I don’t get the hostility to be honest.
    Labour are merely asking for some ideas for policy.
    Surely this can only be mutually beneficial. It’s beneficial for Labour because some of our ideas will help them build a fresh new approach and manifesto to fight the 2015 election with. It’s beneficial to us because we’d get Liberal policies into the Labour manifesto. (And that’s before any coalition compromise)

    I can’t see us making headway on STV for the Commons because the party seem to be generally against it, but STV for Euro elections and for Council elections might not be out of the question. (Getting the public used to STV in these elections would make the final push for adopting it to the Commons much easier)

    Labour have been making noises about showing an interest in localism. Policies and ideologies about devolution and empowering local communities might be something they really jump on and make it their new direction.

    I think we might also be able to interest them in reforms of the public sector. One of the big criticisms against Labour lately is that their approach to public spending is beaurocratic, wasteful, ineffective and inefficient. This is due to their centralising and controlling approach. If we encouraged them to explore “bottom up” management, and more flexible services that were more accountable to the locals they serve rather than abstract targets from a central office, they might really go for it.

    We could also encourage them to devellop democracy and worker power in the work place. Making government agencies more democratic and empowering workers would make them more effective, independent and would also make them more exciting and satisfying for the workers to be in. It would also give the Unions a new role in helping work places use this democracy as effectively and fairly as possible. Unions could perhaps be encouraged to set up co-operatives and mutuals to bring democratic workplaces into the private sector too.

    Imagine Labour having this in their manifesto, and THEN having to compromise further to form a coalition… I think we have everything to gain in trying to work with them on this project.

  • Ruth Bright 14th Dec '10 - 8:55am

    I can’t see that flirting with Miliband is any more dangerous to the future of the party than the situation we currently find ourselves in.

  • Farron is making the reasonable point that the Labour brand is still toxic after Blair and Iraq, and that the election of a new young leader is not enough to detoxify the brand if the policies are not also fundamentally changed.

    After Clegg and tuition fees, the Lib Dem brand is also toxic. As to the election of a new younger leader, Farron might well reflect on the need to change direction before he makes any more comments appearing to paint the Tories as our natural allies.

  • @ Matt

    “spitting as much tribalism towards labour as possible”

    You’ve got to laugh at this kind of comment, haven’t you?

  • Labour are in opposition, Liberal Democrats are in government, and No you should not offer any advice on policy to ED from Labour, (god forbid he might listen, and labour would be truly screwed), it is all part of being in parliament, I have no doubt that there will be a few who will listen, who will not comment, who will think about the future, maybe even think about their own future (as evil as that sounds).

    The time line of future events is closing, the next six months are going to be crucial, car crash politics as someone else used is quite apt, there is several crashes to avoid as mentioned on other threads, but you cannot avoid them, the Liberal Democrats can only hope that they are not life threatening.

    The other really big thing to worry about is Dave, pressure on Dave from his own party may force him to actions that he would not want to do, or so much pressure that Dave retires as PM (you know the Tory party), but I am sure the Liberal Democrats understand that, and do you know what?
    It will be because Liberal Democrats failed to vote for government policy, Dave or some other PM will say “we cannot trust the Liberal Democrats to deliver”, of course I am speculating…

    A famous pretend future “You will be assimilated” or “be destroyed” looks a good bet at the moment, oh and to avoid any confusion, not by Labour…

    I too agree with Mike (The Labour one)
    Oh (and I supported the war, so please don’t bother)


  • Peter Laubach 14th Dec '10 - 1:44pm

    Did anyone hear Tim Farron on Any Questions last Friday/Saturday? I thought he was very impressive and am glad I voted for him as President. If he carries on like that for the next four and a half years, with the necessary publicity, then we may yet emerge with more than a mini-busful of MPs at the next GE!

  • David Evans 14th Dec '10 - 3:08pm

    @ Nigel

    “You must be so proud of your new friends, Mr Farron. I can see why you are so keen to be wedded to them.”

    Interesting technique there, Nigel – put three key words (proud, friends, wedded) in to a response that are so in tune with your preconceptions and so far away from reality and what was said, that you can start spreading untruths wherever you want. Do give over!

  • toryboysnevergrowup 14th Dec '10 - 4:48pm

    The LibDem leadership consistently talk of being in a new era where political parties have to collaborate and co-operate with each other – but if the usual voices on this site are anything to go by the leadership clearly only have one type of collaboration in mind (Farron’s comments perhaps highlight this point more than anything else). Although some LibDems may be so arrogant to belive that only they are capable of defining what is and isn’t new politics, perhaps they should recognise that one lesson they need to learn from the next six months is that never again will a minority party get away without providing a clear and unambigous statement before the election regarding how it will deal with all of it potential partners after an election. The LibDems were given a single balnk cheque and you blew it I’m afraid.

  • “Why would any sane progressive give Labour a second glance?” Watch the Captain Ska video ‘Liar,Lair’ on YouTube and that should answer your question.

  • We shouldn’t touch Labour with a barge pole at the moment. We’re in coalition cleaning up THEIR mess.

    Labour are fiscally irresponsible, authoritarian and blatantly corrupt. It is Labour MPs who face prison because of expenses and a Labour MP who has been kicked out of Parliament for lying.

    So far, the coalition hasn’t:

    – Illegally invaded another country
    – Had any of its members suspended
    – Wanted to lock people up for 3 months without telling them what they’ve done wrong
    – Racked up £22,400 of debt for every man woman and child in Britain

    If you think all of the above counts as ‘progress’, by all means join the Labour party. But Tim Farron is right, we shouldn’t play their game. They’re trying to undo the Lib Dems as a party. Like David Cameron or not, but at least he has cooperated. Labour didn’t want to take responsibility for the mess they caused so bottled coalition talks.

    Ed Miliband won’t lead them into the next election – sooner or later stains will appear on his ‘blank page’. No policy or bad policy – not much of a choice.

    Labour are dead and buried in the South and the East – reduced to a rump of just 2 MPs in the Eastern region. We should have nothing to do with them.

    Well done Tim, you earn my confidence more and more every week.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 14th Dec '10 - 10:07pm

    “Labour are dead and buried in the South and the East – reduced to a rump of just 2 MPs in the Eastern region. We should have nothing to do with them.”

    Have you looked at how the LibDems have be polling in the North recently? The parrot is positoively dead I’m afraid. Where is Farron an MP – go and figure it out!

  • Grammar Police

    I agree that Ed Milliband may not be the most attractive option for the Lib Dems. He has a lot to prove. However, to reject a conversation with him, while engaging in a full coalition with the tories (and particularly those with the views I highlighted above) seems deliberately obtuse to me.

    David Evans

    If you wish to deny the tories are now your friends, I suggest you ask ministers from both parties to stop talking about how well they get on with each other and how many things they keep discovering they have in common. Politically, you are undoubtedly wedded to them at the moment and there are ever increasing hints that there are senior members of both parties who want to make this a long term, even a permanent arrangement. For example, John Major very definitely refused to rule this out on Sunday.

  • Alex Macfie 15th Dec '10 - 1:51pm


    Tell us this in four years when the leadership force the party to go into an election pact with the Tories.

    The leadership cannot force the party to do anything: it is an internally democratic party, not a Stalinist party where the leader decides what the party does. A pact would have to be voted on by the membership, and would undoubtedly be rejected.

    They will succeed because it will become clear that after 4 years of Nick Clegg there will be no other way for the party to survive.

    No, it is one of the clearest ways that the party would not survive. A pact would immediately mean that the Lib Dems did not exist as an independent party at all: it would be merely a sub-brand of the Tories, and soon to be completely assimilated.

  • Alex Macfie 15th Dec '10 - 1:55pm

    @Nigel: Yes, some Tories are quite keen to recruit a new generation of “National Liberal Democrats” to their ranks. But it isn’t going to happen, because very few Lib Dems want it, and any long-term arrangement would have to be supported by the membership. It would be a one-sided arrangement: only the Tories could possibly benefit; the Lib Dems would immediately lose their status as an independent party, reduced to fighting elections (if at all) as a sub-brand of the Tories.

  • @George Kendall 15th December 2010 at 7:44 am who stated: ‘Ed Miliband clearly intends to use this to try to sow division in the party and to encourage defections. He hardly bothers to pretend otherwise.’

    Obviously Milliband will try to make political capital from the situation but you seem to be overlooking the fact it is your own leadership that actually caused division in the party which has obviously caused a lot of defections of activists. You must be pretty worried if Milliband’s open offer to decent-thinking LibDem members frightens you.

    You have to remember that the coalition is a ground-shaking political change in modern times. Who knows what the final fall-out will be. Always remember, Cameron would love defections from right-wing Liberals to dilute his rabid right-wingers.

    The other interesting thing about the new Tory intake is that a lot of them have their own opinions and are speaking against their ministers on a dailty basis and also voting against coalition policy. Cameron will be regretting the amount of patronage he gave away which reduces his influence on his backbenchers.

    Lots of LibDem activists have gone but many more are staying for a while anyway to try and fight for ‘their’ party but if they lose then I think most will go, over the next 5 years. They are left with the choice of forming a minority rump of a party, doing nothing or joining the LP. There’s no possibility these members will join the Tory Party or want to be an perpetual adjunct to it which is useful only to bring about GE victory.

    None of the choices are very palatable to a principled LibDem and far be it for me to tell anyone what to do on an issue that is a matter of conscience.

    But the issue can’t just be papered-over because active fault-lines exist and I’m convinced they will deepen as other coalition policy wrangles come to the fore. So we end up with the imponderables as to how the electorate punish the LibDems at the next GE and what happens to the AV referendum.

    As regulars will know, I am not a LibDem member and never have been although I have spent long periods in the LP and vote for the party.

  • @Peter Laubach 14th December 2010 at 1:44 pm who said: ‘Did anyone hear Tim Farron on Any Questions last Friday/Saturday? I thought he was very impressive and am glad I voted for him as President. If he carries on like that for the next four and a half years, with the necessary publicity, then we may yet emerge with more than a mini-busful of MPs at the next GE!’

    You know Peter, you may well be correct. But I think the flies in the ointment to your prayer is Clegg, Alexander, Cable and all those who abstained on tuition fees or voted for an increase.

    Lots more like this coming and we will see what Farron is made of in due course – but in the interest of cutting waste I wouldn’t pre-book a minibus just yet as a black hack will probably do lol.

  • I have little respect for Clegg but today watching PMQs with Cameron throwing in the personal jibes while Clegg sat and smiled. So much for the new politics LOL.

    Cameron hasn’t realised yet that Milliband is appealing to the wider electorate with his measured behaviour and Cameron is braying like a Bullingdon bully boy for the benefit of his backbenchers and, sadly, a lot of LibDems as well. I think the public will easily get the message.

    Being retired I watch a lot of live Parly TV and I’m aston ished at how few LibDem MPs are in the house execept for the big set-pieces. Their voice is missing in debates and I wonder why – are they frightened to speak their minds or what. Obviously MPs don’t spend all their time in the house but the LibDem benches are consistently empty.

  • I hope all Labour voters read this and make a special effort to go out and vote against AV then.

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