Tories’ southern “Blue wall” is crumbling

In the Independent today, Daisy Cooper MP says:

The Tory Blue Wall has started crumbling in this election as the Liberal Democrats move forward in Tory former heartlands.

From Cheltenham to Cambridgeshire, Wiltshire to Woking, nowhere is safe for the Tories in their Blue Wall. The age of no-go areas for the Liberal Democrats in traditionally Tory southern cities towns and villages is over.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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71 Comments

  • John Marriott 11th May '21 - 2:30pm

    Come on, Ms Cooper, who are you kidding? Up here in Lincolnshire, that ‘blue wall’ is holding firm. As far as the remaining County Councils are concerned, following last week’s elections, all but two are now Tory controlled. The remaining two are now NOC. So, while congratulations might be due to all those successful Lib Dem candidates, let’s please ration the hyperbole a while longer. Now, if the Lib Dems had got 17% of the seats (that figure being their average share of what was a rather low vote) that WOULD have been a matter for celebration.

  • Agree with John Marriott.

    There is a world beyond just north of Potters Bar. The danger is the party will be seen as the party of the comfortable Home Counties.

  • Daisy is right. I have spent the last few days trying to tell people this but no one is listening.

    “Crumbling” may be a bit of an exaggeration but certainly the Tories are losing popularity in some of their traditional areas which points the way forward for the centre-left parties (Lab inc their vote by 2.5% apparently).

    Daisy Cooper has had a high profile in recent weeks, she seems like a possible future leader.

  • The independent article makes some valid observations on the shifting nature of political loyalties.
    “Liberal Democrats said they had their eyes on a number of traditionally true blue parliamentary seats after gaining councillors from Tories across the south and east of England. And in a further sign of shifting electoral patterns, Labour and Greens also picked up handfuls of seats in Conservative heartlands like East and West Sussex, Surrey and Kent.”
    “The results appeared to give some support to theories that Conservatives are losing support in some traditional strongholds, due both to opposition to Brexit in parts of the south and to graduates and young professionals moving into the home counties to escape high property prices in London.”
    LibDem gains are not just in the South. In County Durham, LibDems gained 3 seats and in Sunderland 4.
    The independent also has some advice for Labour (and therefore other opposition parties) “What Northerners really care about is respect. Blair had respect for the electorate; Starmer only seems to respect his party cheerleaders” https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/labour-elections-tony-blair-keir-starmer-b1844828.html?utm_source=taboola&utm_medium=Feed
    “Starmer and his Labour Party sell an almost doomsday vision of life in the UK. They often put me in mind of that character you find in every town and city declaring loudly that the world will end next Thursday. Many of those that pledge their undying allegiance to the party are perpetually worked up about the most abstract of ideas on Twitter and are consistently on the lookout to find tweets or opinions that don’t toe the puritan line. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that this doesn’t equate to the reality beyond their own bubble.”
    “…ask people on the streets what they like about Blair and they’ll provide you with a litany of reasons. He set himself the target of 50 per cent of young people going into higher education and he succeeded: some of those being the first person in their family to attend. He created the National Minimum Wage. He propped up workers’ wages with tax credits so that work would be beneficial. These things were not just good policies; they were life-changing.”
    “It is time to move away from abstract student union ideas and embrace the fact that New Labour was not only palatable to the working class but a near perfect formula.”
    Most current Libdem members have joined since the coalition. Having a former secretary of state for the environment with experience of government as party leader gives the LibDems great credibility as climate change moves to the top of the political agenda.

  • John McHugo 11th May '21 - 5:13pm

    What I would like to see is some analysis of where we won seats and where we lost seats. We can then see where the blue wall is crumbling and where it is becoming stronger.

  • Alex Macfie 11th May '21 - 5:41pm

    John Marriott: Obviously when we talk of the “Blue Wall” that we are hoping will crumble, we are not talking about places like rural Lincolnshire (where we and our predecessor parties were always relatively weak even in our best years), any more than the “Red Wall” of current British political lore includes the inner cities, which remain resolutely Tory-free zones (and where Labour are losing ground there, it is mostly to other ‘progressive’ parties i.e. us and the Green Party).
    It’s actually quite easy to pinpoint the places where Lib Dems are winning from the Tories and where we are not. It’s the same criterion by which you can tell which Labour strongholds are likely to turn blue and which are not. The so-called Red Wall is majority-Leave. Metropolitan Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield, where Tories are as rare as hens’ teeth, mainly voted Remain. Likewise, the London commuter belt mostly voted Remain, while the rural East of England is practically Brexit Central.

    David Raw: The Home Counties are not all wealthy and comfortable. There are working class people there too. Labour were never strong in most of the non-London Southeast of England because there was never much heavy industry, so the working class tend to be non-unionised service sector workers with no tradition of voting Labour. In the Ashdown-Kennedy era the Lib Dems were making inroads into these areas by establishing ourselves as the main opposition to the Tories. In doing so we were able to reach voters that Labour never could. In the 2015 disaster most of these seats went back to the Tories, but earlier Lib Dem successes show that supposedly safe Tory seats can topple under pressure from us, and there is nothing new about us breaking the southern “Blue Wall”.

  • John Marriott 11th May '21 - 6:13pm

    @Alex MacFie
    It’s the hyperbolic language that gets me. Hadrian’s Wall has been crumbling probably for nearly two millennia. Bits of it are still standing. Yes, the Lib Dems are winning; but one swallow (or even half a dozen) don’t make a summer.
    @Joe Bourke
    “Most current Lib Dem members have joined since the Coalition”. That’s since 2015, then? I assume you have the proof at your fingertips! As for climate change moving “to the top of the agenda”, that might be yours but I reckon you might be in a minority.

  • John Nicholson 11th May '21 - 7:29pm

    Some of these comments are surprisingly gloomy. The fact is that while Labour lost a large number of seats and the Tory vote generally surged, we held our own. We had a minuscule increase in seat numbers and gained a council. Not spectacular but it was against a Tory surge. Tories won’t be this popular for ever, so what will happen then? The Labour Party has huge problems. Scotland is as a lost cause and increasingly do is the north of England. We have an opportunity here, but making snide remarks about our relatively popularity in the south or in parts of London is not going to help. Having been part of the effort in south west London since my student days in the mid 1970s, I know how much work it has taken to get where we are today and I don’t take kindly to the implication that, after all this effort, we have only converted voters who don’t matter.

  • John Nicholson:

    Some of these comments are surprisingly gloomy. The fact is that while Labour lost a large number of seats and the Tory vote generally surged, we held our own. We had a minuscule increase in seat numbers and gained a council. Not spectacular but it was against a Tory surge …… We have an opportunity here

    This is what I’ve been trying to say too (albeit gently – perhaps too gently). Most voters agree with us. The single greatest hurdle we face is convincing ourselves we can win. Until we do this we have little hope of convincing voters to vote for us en masse.

  • @ Joe Bourke “Having a former secretary of state for the environment with experience of government as party leader gives the Lib Dems great credibility as climate change moves to the top of the political agenda”. Nice if true, Joe, but unfortunately his decisions at Drax and Hinkley Point don’t bear this out.

    On 21 March this year it was reported, “over 20 environmental organisations, including the sustainable investment group Share Action, have written an open letter to Drax shareholders to urge them to vote against the company’s $625m (£450m) attempt to double its wood pellet supplies by buying the Canadian producer Pinnacle.

    The letter warned that burning more imported wood pellets could accelerate the climate crisis, increase the company’s contribution to biodiversity loss, and the potential for Indigenous people’s land rights violations.

    A rising number of scientists and environmental campaigners, including Greta Thunberg, have cast doubt on Drax’s “carbon neutral” claims because they doubt that forests can be replaced quickly enough to absorb the carbon emissions required to slow the climate crisis.

    Wolfgang Kuhn, of shareholder group Share Action, one of the signatories of the letter, said: “Pretending that burning trees is sustainable just because an equivalent quantity of carbon is going to be absorbed somewhere, sometime in the future is nonsense.”

  • John Marriott,

    as per the attached link https://www.markpack.org.uk/143767/liberal-democrat-membership-figures/ membership fell to 42,501 in 2012 and was back up to 117,924 by 2020.
    To paraphrase Leon Trotsky ““You may not be interested in climate change, but climate change is interested in you.” – even in Lincolnshire.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 11th May '21 - 9:11pm

    @ John Marriott,

    Actually, the proof is fairly freely available. The party’s membership more than doubled after 2015 – as an Officer of a Local Party in Suffolk, our membership trebled post-2015, and we certainly weren’t alone in that regard. And given that some of those who were members during the Coalition have either died, left or simply not renewed, it seems pretty easy to surmise from that that more than half of the party’s members have joined since 2015.

    Mark Pack did publish the annual membership figures here;

    https://www.markpack.org.uk/143767/liberal-democrat-membership-figures/

    so that might help a little.

  • George Thomas 11th May '21 - 9:21pm

    Today’s Queen’s Speech contained some distinctly illiberal policies which were rightly criticised but also sets up a wide base of liberal centrist’s/soft lefties and, potentially uncomfortable to say, the voters Lawrence Fox attracted who can be drawn to the Lib Dems. The Tories won’t be popular forever and LD’s have a real shot at challenging them in not too distant future, but changes to the electoral system by this lot increasingly makes UK a one party state so a majority wanting a more liberal government might not be enough.

  • Little Jackie Paper 11th May '21 - 9:21pm

    Joe Bourke

    ‘Many of those that pledge their undying allegiance to the party are perpetually worked up about the most abstract of ideas on Twitter and are consistently on the lookout to find tweets or opinions that don’t toe the puritan line.’

    I recognise all political parties in that aphorism really.

    The whole conduct of politics just seems to have become a grisly affair of hectoring and indulgence. Some might say narcissism.

    Upto 2020 I felt we had to live and let live with social media. Increasingly however the damage is too much, corroding our society. Sure – it seems especially true of Labour. But I wouldn’t really say the other parties don’t have their fair share of social media demons and panto dames. We need to reign it in.

    Back in the 1990s I truly felt new technology would improve our politics. I cringe at my naivety. It’s caused untold damage, cheapened our politics and made us all worse people.

  • James Fowler 11th May '21 - 9:49pm

    As I’ve said previously, the Tories’ social and economic liberal flank is now wide open. Eating up Old Labour ties them to Old Labour’s concerns for a better yesterday. There’s serious electoral hay to be made for a determined and bold liberal Party in all this.

  • John Marriott 11th May '21 - 10:20pm

    Thank you, Joe and Mark for the membership information. As for climate change, while accepting that it is happening and clearly human activity is playing an important rôle, I honestly believe that many people just do not buy into it. The antics of movements such as Extinction Rebellion do not help, unfortunately.

  • Little Jackie Paper 11th May '21 - 10:55pm

    James Fowler – ‘Eating up Old Labour ties them to Old Labour’s concerns for a better yesterday.’ What ever this is it isn’t Old Labour.

    Whilst it might be reasonable to say that there is a certain misplaced nostalgia in some circles I would suggest that what we are seeing now goes way beyond nostalgia. Indeed one could argue that some on the REMAIN side of this debate have a certain rose tinted view of the EU and hanker for an EU which in reality ended at Maastricht three decades ago.

    If a UK Conservative said of immigration what Michel Barnier said earlier today this website would have been in uproar. Is Barnier a misplaced nostalgic – perhaps. But the point is that nostalgia is just too easy an explanation.

    The key to opposing the Conservatives is not to take a swipe at a better yesterday but rather to understand how the world of 2019 really was not doing a lot of people – people who had done nothing wrong – a lot of favours. Social and economic liberalism can not be a form of capitalism that’s fantastic just as long as you’re the one with the capital. Starmer so far has shown us that a mix of flags and woke doesn’t work. But I’m not sure that anyone else has come up with anything any the more convincing and calling people nostalgics doesn’t seem to me to do much either.

  • ‘The Tory Blue Wall has started crumbling in this election as the Liberal Democrats move forward in Tory former heartlands.’

    Is somebody trying to out spin Alastair Campbell.

    An overall gain of +8 seats, no mayoral or police commissioner wins & I seat in Wales.
    Is this a tactic to distract from the success of the Greens +88 seats?

  • Andrew Tampion 12th May '21 - 7:45am

    John Oundle
    “The Tory Blue Wall is crumbling to the Greens” doesn’t have the same ring to it though, at least not on a LD website.
    The outcome of leaving the EU will be decisive. If Brexit is a success any Tory Remainers the LD’s may have attracted will mostly return to the folder: while any LD Leaver’s are less likely to, especially if they feel that the LD’s characterize them as racist idiots who have been duped. If on the other hand it’s a disaster then the reverse.
    The problem is that the LD would be unwise to allow themselves to be seen to be hoping for or expecting the UK to suffer economic collapse as a result of Brexit.

  • An Orange circle ( wall ) around London 🙂

  • Peter Martin 12th May '21 - 8:08am

    “Tories’ southern “Blue wall” is crumbling”

    Possibly we’ve started to see a few bricks fall out. This started to become noticeable with the election of a Labour candidate for the previously safe Tory seat of Canterbury in 2017. Then again in Putney in 2019. Both with Jeremy Corbyn as a supposedly hopeless Labour leader!

    On the other hand the loss of the Yellow Wall Lib Dem seats in the West Country and the loss of many more Red Wall seats in the North and Midlands can’t be described as just a few loose stones. Its much worse than that.

    We are starting to see the replacement of the old politics based on concepts of left and right by an even older one based on the concept of National identity. The voting in Northern Ireland has always been about that. It’s been mainly about that in Scotland for at least the last 15 years. And its starting to be the same in England too.

    On the one side we have those who want a European National identity and on the other we have those who don’t. They want either a British or English one. The division cuts right across party lines, including the Lib Dems, and trumps previous class based loyalties. That’s why you don’t have any seats west of Bath any longer and Tim Farron is the last one left of the Northern English Lib Dem MPs.

    But Lib Dems will have no chance at all in places like Rochdale and Burnley for the foreseeable future. If the trend continues it will be the same for Labour in seats like Hartlepool, Leigh, Redcar etc

  • John Marriott 12th May '21 - 8:27am

    As I keep writing, does ANY LDV contributor agree with me that Liberalism, or at least tye coffee table type often promulgated by its advocates on LDV is a niche minority view? Judging from results, particularly in Europe, as shown in election results, that would surely seem to be the case.

    Now that’s not good news for idealistic members, both new and not so new. When I first got involved back in the 1970s I was going to change the world as well. But it would appear that the world, or at least a large number of the voters, don’t seem to want to be changed, at least not overnight.

    Liberals are born. Like the late Bobby Kennedy, they “dream of things that never were and ask why not”. I honestly don’t think that someone can be turned into one, like you can turn a capitalist into a socialist and vice versa. As the late Lord Dennis Healey once remarked, the Liberal Party exists to come up with ideas and policies the other two parties adopt”. Now some may find that remark insulting. I find it rather flattering.

    That’s pretty hard to take for all you conference junkies, who don your yellow/gold/orange lanyards (there’s a problem to start with), some no doubt hoping to get a few seconds of air time if the media deems it worthwhile to put in an appearance, and pass motions you expect to sell to the world outside the hall. As I have written many, many times, there aren’t many ‘Liberal’ parties around these days, that can get their popular vote above 20% not that long ago and, only last week, up to 17%. As we all know, it’s the voting system that stops the British liberals getting 17% of the councillors.

  • There’s danger of complacency in assuming the Tory Blue Wall will automatically fall to the Liberal Democrats. Lib Dems in both Scotland and England need to wake up to why the Green are overtaking them. An indication of which way the cat is jumping comes from the Green vote in the Suffolk elections (Mark Valladares’ back yard) :

    Conservatives – 124,969 votes (48.0%)
    Labour – 56,223 votes (21.6%)
    Greens – 39,283 votes (15.1%)
    Liberal Democrats – 25,885 votes (9.9%)
    Independents – 11,723 votes (4.5%)
    West Suffolk Independents – 1,959 votes (0.8%)
    Communist Party of Britain – 293 votes (0.1%)
    Burning Pink Party – 168 votes (0.1%)

    @ John Marriott There’s much in what you say, John. In my view Liberals (and later Lib Dems) used to appeal to the idealistic wing of the community. That was punctured in 2010-15).

    The modern Lib Dems don’t seem to get it – and have been outflanked by the Greens in both Scotland and England by a more radical offering. They also fail to recognise that the SNP contains a fair number of social democrats and instead write them off as nationalist bigots.

    Unfortunately your comment about my fellow alumni of Bradford GS (Denis Healey – one ‘n’ please, young John) is out of date. There’s been a policy drought for near on twenty years (the odd penny on or off of whatever is a passing fancy) and a concentration on identity issues which has very little resonance for many ordinary folk whether the party likes it or not.

  • Hype by our St Albans MP, just as with the Greens Co leader. Obviously a by election in the near London zone coming up! We had best be prepared for more until the result is announced.

  • Laurence Cox 12th May '21 - 12:18pm

    @ljp

    We have to accept that social media is here to stay, whether we like it or not. Here is one example from this year’s London Mayoral election. Niko Omilana (Independent) came fifth receiving 49,628 first preference votes, almost half the number of the Lib Dem candidate Luisa Porritt (111,716) and 1,994 votes more than Laurence Fox, who received a good deal of free publicity on the TV.

    I had never heard of him before the campaign and received no leaflet from him nor saw him on any mayoral debate. He makes videos that he puts on YouTube and has 3.66 million YouTube followers world-wide.

  • I don’t know about ‘crumbling’…Here on the Suffolk/Norfolk border It’s rock solid; I cast my vote (LD) but it was, in reality, like throwing a ‘snowball into hell’ ..
    However, as only about a third of the electorate actually bothered to vote????? I’d like to think that those who ‘abstained’ were supporters of opposition parties but those, who didn’t vote that I know, are Tories who ‘know’ it’s a safe seat,,

    OK..it was not a great performance by LDs but Labour had it far worse in England and lost Hartlepool..

    However, regarding Hartlepool. listening to those ‘new Tories’ interviewed I was struck by their ignorance of policies and adherence to the ‘Boris is a bit of a character’ reasoning…Many of those interviewed Hartlepool seem to think that their Labour MP was responsible for the closure of their law court, hospital and the reduction in numbers of police over the last decade.

    Finally, when one stated that ‘Boris is more of a NE person’ and how ‘she could relate to that’ I thought of Bertrand Russell’s, “one of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

  • @ expats FYI Northern Echo 19 April “Dr Paul Williams, who was also MP for Stockton South between 2017 and 2019, has been campaigning to bringing services back to the University Hospital of Hartlepool as part of his campaign to be the town’s new MP.

    But it has emerged that Dr Williams was a commissioner of a report that decided that services, including critical care, be removed from Hartlepool Hospital – a recommendation which was adopted in full”.

    Apparently Williams was imposed on the local party against their wishes.

  • Little Jackie Paper 12th May '21 - 1:21pm

    Laurence Cox

    He makes videos that he puts on YouTube and has 3.66 million YouTube followers world-wide.

    And that’s fine. But we’ve regulated for less. Unless you want to put your faith in the terms and conditions of big tech.

  • John Marriott,

    you ask “does ANY LDV contributor agree with me that Liberalism, is a niche minority view?
    I would say that Liberal democracy is a victim of its own success and has been adopted by all mainstream political parties in the West. The Conservative party has embedded classical liberalism in its philosophy and even claims the Whig politician Edmund Burke as one of its own. The nascent Labour party adopted much of the agenda of New Liberalism and its leaders have always been hesitant to promote full-throated socialism. In essence all UK political parties are descendants of the 19th and early 20th century Liberal party of Gladstone and Asquith.
    That merging of political philosophy has tempered the clash of big ideas and brought about a focus on managerial competence. The most recent being government’s ability to deal with the Covid pandemic.
    That is not to say that there is no place for radicalism. Just that it has be truly radical not simply different shades of grey. There is a tiny party promoting radical liberal ideas. This link discusses one http://www.yppuk.org/
    “The purpose of UBI is – partly – to reduce inequality and poverty – so there is no point trying to fund it out of taxes which themselves exacerbate inequality and poverty, such as business- and job- -killers like Value Added tax or high NIC on employment. LVT has to be the best tax (by its very nature, LVT reduces inequality and poverty) and second best is higher rate income tax on personal annual incomes above (say) £50,000, because higher incomes include a significant ‘rental’ element (they largely depend on the efforts and skills of colleagues and subordinates and/or the market or political power of the organisation), not the individual effort and skill of the lucky department head or lucky CEO).”

  • David Raw 12th May ’21 – 12:30pm…Dr Williams was a commissioner of a report that decided that services, including critical care, be removed from Hartlepool Hospital – a recommendation which was adopted in full”.

    David, A bit more to it than that..
    I gather that he was one of four local GPs who had complained that government cuts to the NHS had resulted in there being no 24 cover in the intensivel care unit of the local hospital and that it was a safety issue..( nurses had expressed concern that no consultants were available at night).. At the time David Emerton, medical director for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We need to take this interim step now to preserve and improve quality and safety.” He added that the change is hoped to be an interim solution until a new purpose-built hospital is approved…..

    The new purpose built hospital was touted as the ‘New Teesside super hospital’ and had been given the go-ahead in 2011..But, surprise, surprise the plans were ‘shelved’..

  • David Evans 12th May '21 - 4:29pm

    John Marriott, Of course you are right. As I have said on many occasions, far, far too many Lib Dems believe politics is easy.

    All it takes is:
    – Believe in nice things (like everyone should be nice to each other);
    – Say nice things (often to people who agree with you);
    – Be optimistic (and never plan for or even consider that our enemies might undermine us);
    – Ignore those who have done it for years (because they are part of the problem);
    – Pretend that simply repeating positive mantras to a few people who agree about an issue that is important to them is enough;
    – Lose;
    – Watch our enemies dismantle more of that fair free and open society the oldies helped create;
    – Reset optimism to maximum (because failure is not possible when you are so right);
    – Fail to face up to problems (far too negative);
    – Think of a new happy slogan (insert slogan of choice);
    – Never consider listening to and considering the opinions of people who have different views or priorities to you;
    – Agree with the people at the top, even though they led us into this mess;
    – Carry on until you give up;
    – Never ever admit to failure or accept the need to learn from it.

    Simples

  • Steve Magner 12th May '21 - 5:04pm

    I was in hospital recently and had to have emergency surgery. The post surgery pain killing drugs caused me to have delerium. In respect of Daisys comments perhaps she should inspect more carefully the Lib Dem vote in places like Ceredigion and Montgomery and indeed apart from a few personalvictories like Willie Rennie and Alex Cole Hamilton the general level o Lib Dem vote in both Scotland and Wales or indeed Cornwall. Whatever Daisy is on can I have some of it!!!!!

  • Alex Macfie 12th May '21 - 5:37pm

    Steve Magner: Daisy was specifically talking about seats like hers in the SE of England, where you have to admit we did show signs of being a serious challenge to the Tories. Regaining lost strength in our old heartlands in Scotland and Wales (as well as the West Country) is important as well, but is a separate issue.

  • Alex Macfie 12th May '21 - 5:52pm

    John Marriott

    “Liberalism … is a niche minority view? Judging from results, particularly in Europe, as shown in election results, that would surely seem to be the case.”

    After the Dutch general election in March, the two Liberal parties (VVD and D66) now hold the top two positions, at 21.9% of the vote and 34 seats for VVD and 15.0% and 24 for D66. The two traditional main parties of centre-right (CDA) and centre-left (PvdA) languish in 4th and 6th places, respectively. Liberal parties also do remarkably well in Denmark, Finland and Estonia. The French government is also liberal or centrist, with Macron’s party belonging to a sister European group to ALDE.
    So I think you are a bit out of date in your knowledge of European party politics.

  • Peter Martin 12th May '21 - 6:18pm

    @ Alex,

    ” The French government is also liberal or centrist, with Macron’s party belonging to a sister European group to ALDE.”

    Not according to Political Compass he isn’t ! So I’m not sure what this implies about ALDE.

    https://www.politicalcompass.org/france2017

  • John Littler 12th May '21 - 7:02pm

    Look at the direction of the world outside of the sclerotic UK.

    Biden won by 5-6 million votes and is enacting a massive programme of Greening and good works.

    As well as USA, Liberals/centrists also run France, Canada, Netherlands, S.Korea, Japan, Belgium, Luxembourg, Taiwan and arguably Germany, soon likely to be co-run by Greens. Liberal Socialists run most of Scandinavia and Portugal.

    In the recent EU Elections, Liberals made the most gains followed by Greens, with nasty nationalists in retreat everywhere except Italy. Of course, the BBC spent most of it’s coverage on the pre-fascists in Italy and never report populist retreats.

    There is also the LIberal Party running Australia, but they are more like Economic liberal Tories.

    Once America sees the welfare programmes, the infrastructure built, the Greening and the new quality jobs coming they will like it as much as their Covid cheques.
    The rest of the world will look at USA and desire some of that.

    The Reagan/Thatcher neoliberal era is now coming to an end and the present UK government , Poland, Hungary and Russia will be left in the cold, with the UK continuing to fall down the GDP and GDP per head leagues.

  • Laurence Cox 12th May '21 - 7:32pm

    @Peter Martin

    I’ve had my doubts about the political positioning of ALDE ever since they went along with the EPP and S&D’s spitzenkanditaten process for choosing the President of the European Commission. That meant that J-C Juncker got the job in 2014. To judge from the Wikipedia article on Renew Europe ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renew_Europe ), the successor to ALDE, there are are some strange bedfellows, including the Spanish Ciudadanos and the Irish Fianna Fáil (both also in ALDE), who one would hardly describe as Liberals and one would think would fit better in the EPP.

  • Laurence Cox 12th May '21 - 7:58pm

    @ljp

    It is more the case that I think we should make better use of social media ourselves. Putting our conference main auditorium sessons on YouTube is worthy, but hardly likely to attract undecided voters. When I think of the characters we have had performing at the Glee Club or at conference revues, chopping an evening’s entertainment up into bite-sized chunks of a few minutes each and putting out a new short every couple of weeks is much more likely to attract interest. What we need to ask ourselves is how we harness what makes people on social media into ‘influencers’ if they are not already celebrities.

  • Steve Magner 12th May '21 - 8:51pm

    As someone who was an active party member from 1973 to 2016 can anybody tell me whether the Lib Dems are a centre party or a radical centre left party I genuinely don’t know

    Personally as a Guardian reader and a Catholic I would describe myself as slightly centre left.

  • John Littler: “There is also the LIberal Party running Australia” but it isn’t a small-L liberal party, and does not claim to be so. It doesn’t even belong to Liberal International. Australians always make a clear distinction between “small-L liberalism” and the politics of their Liberal Party. Similarly, the Liberal Democratic Parties of Russia and Japan are not liberal in any recognised sense of the word, and also do not belong to Liberal International. The Russian LDP is particularly misnamed, as it is a far-right party.

  • Peter Martin 13th May '21 - 6:44am

    @ John Littler,

    “As well as USA, Liberals/centrists also run France, Canada, Netherlands, S.Korea, Japan, Belgium, Luxembourg, Taiwan and arguably Germany, soon likely to be co-run by Greens. Liberal Socialists run most of Scandinavia and Portugal.”

    They don’t.

    You haven’t made any distinction between economic and social liberalism . The left/right axis is about economics. So on this scale the Marine Le Pen and her National Rally Party are more centrist, and more to the left, than Macron and his En Marche party.

    The difference is that Macron is more socially liberal than Le Pen.

    https://www.politicalcompass.org/france2017

    “The Reagan/Thatcher neoliberal era is now coming to an end”

    I’d hope you are right but you probably aren’t. Again you are mistaking the more socially liberal attitudes of the modern generation of politicians for a more centrist approach to economics.

    We have seen that change, and simply because politicians have been forced to by measures taken to keep economies functioning during the Pandemic. However, that probably won’t be a permanent shift.

    We’ll soon be back to a neoliberal way of thinking with calls that the Government should ‘live within its financial means’, ‘cut its credit card bill’, stop ‘spending like a drunken sailor’, stop ‘creating a debt burden for our grandchildren’ and all the usual neoliberal claptrap we’ve heard so often in the past. A currency issuing government doesn’t need to worry about any of those things providing the economy is functioning and inflation isn’t excessive.

  • “Liberalism … is a niche minority view? J

    Liberal positions are supported by around 20-35% of the electorate. This is a lot more than currently vote LD therefore there is a potential untapped market. Furthermore, many liberal minded people hold centre – centre left economic views.

    I agree with much of what Alex Macfie has said but I wouldn’t describe Macron as a liberal given some of his governments actions such as the treatment of Gillets Jaunes protesters.

  • John Marriott 13th May '21 - 10:22am

    @Marco
    But still a minority though, even on a good day – and there really haven’t been many of those lately.

    @Alex MacFie
    I’ve done a bit of Googling since reading your comment about European ‘Liberal’ parties. While the ones you mentioned do have a respectable showing, others don’t appear to be doing that well. I always tend to look at Germany and there the FDP, while benefitting from a more proportional voting system, has been fortunate to share power on a number of occasions since 1949, its popularity has rarely risen above 10%. It does, of course, depend on how you define ‘liberal’, as other contributors have written. I think I’ll stick with my original observation.

  • David Evans 13th May '21 - 2:05pm

    Marco, I think you are missing the point here. The vast majority of the population share some liberal positions – the ones that give them freedom – It doesn’t make them liberal at all. A majority support most liberal positions (death penalty, right to vote, freedom of speech, abortion, pro education, pro equality of opportunity, civil partnerships even if not perhaps full gay marriage) – but a lot of them are died in the wool Conservatives, Labour, Green or nationalist.

    The simple fact is that most people consider the UK to be liberal, thank you very much, and so decide how to vote based on other issues). If the economy is important to them, they mainly believe in the Conservatives. If it is the NHS, they often believe in Labour. If the environment, they believe in the Greens. If Independence it is the SNP. If it is social democracy, they used to vote for us, but have largely returned to Labour now.

    If the Lib Dems are to compete it has to be on more than just liberalism.

    Liberalism on its own is very much a niche minor issue for the vast majority of people in the UK. We have to widen our appeal once again if we are to gain votes and holding on to liberalism as some test of ultimate piety will not come close.

  • John McHugo 11th May ’21 – 5:13pm:
    What I would like to see is some analysis of where we won seats and where we lost seats.

    There appears to be a correlation with EU Referendum voting patterns. The party performed better in remain voting urban areas such Cheltenham (56.2% remain), South Cambridgeshire (60.2% remain), St. Albans (62.7% remain), and Woking (56.2% remain) while losing seats in areas such as Cornwall (56.5% leave) and Montgomeryshire (55.8% leave). It will be interesting to see how this translates to Parliamentary seats at the next General Election. In many towns and cities remain votes were often concentrated in particular council wards. For example, in Lincoln (57% leave), only one council ward, Carholme, where 43% of residents were students, voted remain (63%). Will such pockets of pro-EU votes be too diluted for a LibDem win? How will the LibDem vote split with Labour and the Greens in such seats? Will wins in urban areas be enough to make up for the losses in former Liberal heartlands?

  • David Evans,

    I would agree very much with your comment above that if the Lib Dems are to compete it has to be on more than just liberalism. As any marketer will tell you, to compete you need a unique selling point.
    Tony Blair, in the New Statesmen https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2021/05/tony-blair-without-total-change-labour-will-die writes:
    ” The challenge facing Britain’s Labour and Liberal Democrat parties cannot be overstated. Political parties have no divine right to exist and progressive parties of the centre and centre left are facing marginalisation, even extinction, across the Western world. Where is the French Socialist Party of François Mitterrand or the German SPD of Willy Brandt? And dominant national parties can very quickly become small fringe parties under the hammer blows of poor leadership and social and economic change. Look at the Liberal Party of Asquith and Lloyd George, reduced from 397 to 43 seats in just 18 years in the early 20th century.”
    “Corbyn was radical but not sensible; Keir [Starmer] seems sensible but not radical… the Labour Party cannot fulfil its historic mission. Its limitations have been there from its inception, particularly its estrangement from Britain’s great Liberal tradition – Gladstone, Lloyd George, Keynes, Beveridge.” There is some useful insight there.

  • David Evans “The vast majority of the population share some liberal positions”

    Perhaps we need to differentiate between liberalism and radical liberalism as your definition is liberalism in the very broadest sense.

    I am thinking more of openness to asylum and immigration, decriminalisation of drugs and sex work, rehabilitation of offenders, accountability of security services etc along with more choice and localism in public services.

    You are right that it is not enough just to focus on these issues. The aim should be to create a core vote of 12-15% based on radical liberal positions but then during election campaigns focus on local and “kitchen table” issues to win enough seats.

  • Little Jackie Paper 11th May ’21 – 10:55pm:
    Whilst it might be reasonable to say that there is a certain misplaced nostalgia in some circles I would suggest that what we are seeing now goes way beyond nostalgia. Indeed one could argue that some on the REMAIN side of this debate have a certain rose tinted view of the EU and hanker for an EU which in reality ended at Maastricht three decades ago.

    It has been said that the real nostalgics are those remainers who hanker after an EU empire (as Guy Verhofstadt memorably described it at the 2019 LibDem Conference)…

    ‘Why Remainers are the imperialist nostalgics’ [November 2019]:
    https://unherd.com/2019/11/what-donald-tusk-gets-wrong-about-brexit/

    With no one overseas to colonise, what happened to the old ruling bureaucracies of the formerly imperial nations of Europe? What now for those educated with imperial dreams and a global vision, trained from a young age to run international business and political institutions, dreaming of rule across vast territories and hundreds of millions of benighted souls in need of guidance?

    The solution they came up with was to colonise one another. To console themselves for the loss of the riches and ready supply of servants in their overseas colonies, the washed-up post-imperial nations of Europe agreed to pool their reach, influence and unwashed natives into a kind of ersatz empire.

  • Until Lib Dem’s learn to be more aggressive politically they will always remain a niche party. Right now they should learn the lessons of the Brexit Party sending all its votes to the Tories when it shut up shop. If we did a deal with Labour where we focussed on winning seats where we are second and let them focus where they are second and just got out of each other’s way the result would be transformative.

    Lab and Lib Dem’s can’t go on being parties of opposition they must find a way to work together and beat the Tories. The electorate doesn’t really want the Tories in power for ever

  • Joe Bourke, indeed there is some useful insight in Tony Blair’s comments, but a bit of it is “Old Politician Regret” when the long term consequences of decisions made are seen to be much more negative than the short term advantages accrued by those decisions.

    The reconnection of the liberals with the social democrats which occurred in the 1980s gave rise the most sustained period of long term steady growth of the party in living memory. The Liberal Democrats clearly had a much wider appeal than the ‘pure’ liberalism of the old liberal party, and they thrived, built success and became a force to be reckoned with. It was so much more than the niche liberalism being promoted now by those for whom being pure liberal is seen as the route to success. Sadly when the party leadership chose to go for a different “core vote” in coalition by deliberately jettisoning much of the social democrat tradition, the party once again collapsed.

    Sadly we still have senior figures and lots of followers who continue to promote the view that being liberal is the bedrock we should build on, whereas those of us who have learned form the mistakes of the Clegg era know it is far too narrow a base for any sort of success. Truly Liberal Democracy is the only way forward and those who promote being liberal as somehow a sufficient bedrock to build real success have already seen their efforts fail in 2021, despite a few isolated successes in parts of the South East.

    Tony Blair now knows that his failure to deliver a fair voting system post 1997 has enabled a Tory party that is more extreme and corrupt than any of its predecessors to entrench itself in power, based on a diet of lies and handouts to its supporters. In a way his premiership proved to be not a new beginning but a sad and disappointing end.

  • Christian: The Brexit Party was a Nigel Farage fanclub whose supporters would do whatever he told them to. Our potential supporters are not like that, and we are not that sort of party. Many of them, particularly in the “Blue Wall” of this thread, would rather vote for Count Binface than for Labour. Any formal deal between Lib Dems and Labour would be a gift to the Tories. we need to be cleverer, by having informal non-aggression pacts; still having separate candidates but agreeing not to campaign in the other’s Tory-facing battlegrounds.

  • John Marriott 14th May '21 - 12:25pm

    No ‘lectures’ from Mr ‘Bliar’ (as my mate calls him) please! He had a massive chance to modernise our political system back in 1997 and he quite frankly blew it, just as the Lib Dems and others did with the AV referendum 14 years later.

  • Marco, if you want to build a core vote, ‘Radical Liberalism’ is massively more niche than Liberalism and that isn’t enough to get us anywhere near power. Where on earth do you think you are going to get this ‘core vote of 12-15% based on radical liberal positions’?

    We didn’t get 12% in any of the last three General Elections!!

    I’m sorry, but your “Radical Liberal Core Vote” is so vanishingly tiny as to be almost imperceptible.

    It is a fond dream. It’s not a Core Vote.

  • David Evans 14th May ’21 – 11:30am…………..Tony Blair now knows that his failure to deliver a fair voting system post 1997 has enabled a Tory party that is more extreme and corrupt than any of its predecessors to entrench itself in power, based on a diet of lies and handouts to its supporters. In a way his premiership proved to be not a new beginning but a sad and disappointing end…………….

    C’mon, David, this party has done far more to enable this government than anything Tony Blair did…He had, armed with a massive majority, no incentive to want change; this party held the balance of power between 2010-15 and ‘blew it’ on every front..

    From LDV.. Nov 2011..Newsnight 29th November 2011

    Paxman – So you going into the next election promising further billions of pounds cuts in public spending. That is what you going to say in your manifesto for the next election.

    Danny Alexander – I’m afraid so yes

    Paxman – I thought your promise was that in the last year of this government you would not necessarily be giving unequivocal endorsement to every government policy

    Alexander – Well, as a government we originally as you said earlier set out plans that would meet our targets a year earlier in 2014-15. Because of the way in which economic circumstances have deteriorated we need to make this commitment for future years so yes Lib Dems and Conservatives will work together in government to set out plans for those following two years and of course we will both be committed to delivering them.

    Paxman – So what’s the point of voting for you as opposed to the Conservatives then?

    No comment.

    And some in this party still blame Tony Blair??????

  • Somewhat more proportional voting systems don’t change the ability of a dominant party to form a government. In Scotland, people have two votes for the Holyrood Parliament – one for a constituency MSP, and another for a regional ballot. 73 Constituency MSPs, are elected on a first-past-the-post system. In the regional ballot, parties are allocated a number of MSPs depending on how many votes they receive – once the number of constituencies already won in that region is taken into account – to make the overall result more proportional. The Welsh Senned has 60 MSs, 40 of whom represent individual constituencies and 20 representing the five regions of Wales.
    The Jenkins committee recommended a mixed system, of 80-85 per cent of the Commons to be elected by the Alternative Vote in individual constituencies (i.e still a majoritarian system) and the remaining 15-20 per cent by means of a party list- to be known as Top Up members. It appears unlikely that this system would produce a significantly different result than what we saw in the 2019 Westminster elections or recent Scottish and Welsh elections.
    Using the Alternative vote (as proposed in the 2011 AV referendum), the 2015 election would have seen the Conservatives increase their seats from 331 to 337, Labour would have dropped from 232 to 227 and LibDems would increase by 1 from 8 to 9 https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/publications/the-2015-general-election-report/#sub-section-15. Under any voting system, Conservatives would have been able to form a government with a supply and confidence arangement with UKIP and/or the DUP.

  • expats 14th May ’21 – 1:53pm:
    From LDV.. Nov 2011..Newsnight 29th November 2011

    Paxman – So you going into the next election promising further billions of pounds cuts in public spending. That is what you going to say in your manifesto for the next election.

    And it still wasn’t enough to get the EU off our backs…

    ‘Council Decision (EU) 2015/1098 of 19 June 2015 establishing that no effective action has been taken by the United Kingdom in response to the Council Recommendation of 2 December 2009’:
    https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32015D1098

    (9) These factors lead to the conclusion that, despite the fiscal consolidation programme set out and being implemented, the UK did not put an end to its excessive deficit by 2014-2015. Furthermore, the UK did not adhere to the average fiscal effort of 1 3/4% which was recommended by the Council on 2 December 2009. Overall, the response by the UK to the Council recommendation under Article 126(7) of the TFEU of 2 December 2009 has not been sufficient,

    HAS ADOPTED THIS DECISION:

    Article 1

    The United Kingdom has not taken effective action in response to the Council recommendation of 2 December 2009.

  • @ David Evans

    I am not sure why you seem to think that radical liberalism and social democracy are enemies of each other. You can be both and indeed many of the positions I am talking about were policies under Charles Kennedy. Many advocates of a core vote strategy are social liberals such as Mark Pack and David Howarth.

    Where would I get the extra voters from? I think you win votes from Labour by ruling out working with the Tories and aligning closer to them Paddy Ashdown style. Meanwhile to win Conservative votes you plant a flag on their territory with radical centrist policies designed to appeal to their aspirational voters (who will be less scared off now the spectre of a Corbyn govt. has disappeared).

  • David Evans 14th May '21 - 7:01pm

    Expats – I think you are reading a lot more in your analysis than in there.

    As you say “He had, armed with a massive majority, no incentive to want change.” Except for the fact that people had voted for his party because they were sick of Conservative incompetence and sleaze, and actually had 10 years of absolute power before dumping the mess on Gordon Brown. As you so rightly point out, he had the chance and chose to do very little of what was needed. In addition he promised not to increase tuition fees and did. He blew his chance.

    As I have said on numerous occasions “the Lib Dems, under Nick Clegg, had a significant number of seats, the opportunity to prove to people that what Lib Dems could do in government and PPBs that began with “Say Goodbye to Broken Promises” and “Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be different.” Nick had the chance to change things and chose to do very little of what was needed. Indeed he broke his promise on tuition fees and behaved in government just like anyone else in power. He blew it.

    Not a lot of difference as far as I can see. Just two leaders who made a total mess of their party’s big chance.

  • David Evans 14th May '21 - 7:17pm

    Marco, It is not me who is saying that “radical liberalism and social democracy are enemies of each other”. It is you who is excluding Social Democrats when you say “The aim should be to create a core vote of 12-15% based on radical liberal positions.” Not a single mention of Social Democrats in your vision anywhere.

    Likewise in Mark Pack’s “Core Vote Strategy” the expression ‘Social Democrat’ is not mentioned once. Social Liberals are not the exact same thing as Social Democrats. They are close on so many levels, but one thing they are not ‘Radical Liberals’ – Indeed most Liberals are not Radical Liberals.

    As for your explanation of where you would get the extra Core Votes from, the idea that you could get ‘Radical Liberals’ from the Labour party is just risible. I have never met a single radical liberal who was a member of the Labour party. Have you?

  • David Evans – You did say previously that there are plenty of liberals in other parties and these are the people I want to attract. There are liberal minded people who vote Labour and strangely some were attracted to vote for them by Corbyn’s policies. It was hard to convince them he was of the authoritarian left.

    I am not suggesting we jettison any social democratic policies and am proud that the LDs usually put forward the most redistributive manifesto. However we also need to accept that Britain has a mainstream Social Democratic Party in the Labour Party so how would you convince people to vote for us not them?

  • Jeff 14th May ’21 – 3:23pm
    expats 14th May ’21 – 1:53pm:
    From LDV.. Nov 2011..Newsnight 29th November 2011

    Paxman – So you going into the next election promising further billions of pounds cuts in public spending. That is what you going to say in your manifesto for the next election.

    And it still wasn’t enough to get the EU off our backs……………………

    .O.M.G.*

    *My shortest response in many years..

  • Marco. you seem to just keep digging an ever bigger hole for yourself.

    Yet again you choose to make up some words to put in my mouth. First it was “I am not sure why you seem to think that radical liberalism and social democracy are enemies of each other.” I debunked that and point out that the reason you are not sure is because I never said such a thing.

    Now you are claiming “You did say previously that there are plenty of liberals in other parties.” Let me assure you that there is no way I would have said something as silly as that. There aren’t enough liberals in the Liberal Democrats. We need at least four times as many!! As for your thought of there being plenty in other parties, I suggest you stop making things up and look for facts!!!

    Also it is curious how you contort meaning from you wanting “to create a core vote of 12-15% based on radical liberal positions” to you “not suggesting we jettison any social democratic policies” – I suppose you mean we don’t jettison those “Radical Liberal” Social Democratic policies, because all you were going to add to your “Radical Liberal Policies” was “during election campaigns” when we “focus on local and ‘kitchen table’ issues to win enough seats”. In addition, you don’t seem to know how to attract them because you point out (incorrectly to my mind) that “we also need to accept that Britain has a mainstream Social Democratic Party in the Labour Party so how would you convince people to vote for us not them?” To me that sounds about as cynical and confused as Boris Johnson.

    So in summary, you
    1) claim there exists (or can be created) a 12-15% Radical Liberal Core vote
    2) Can’t explain where they are or how you would create them, except to say “There are liberal minded people who vote Labour.” Bet they aren’t many radical liberals there!!
    3) Never mentioned social democrats who are part of our party until I pointed that out
    4) Want to keep their policies
    5) But can’t think why they should vote for us!!
    Marco, it’s not thought out. It’s a dream, A fond imagining. It is a fantasy!!!

  • Peter Martin 15th May '21 - 3:40am

    @ Jeff @ Expats,

    An interesting quote from the Jeremy Paxman with Danny Alexander re spending cuts earlier. Thanks for that. One for the archives!

    Danny Alexander had unfortunately swallowed ‘hook, line and sinker’ the EU’s ultra neoliberalism. The EU’s mantra at the time was, and sadly still is:

    “The Stability and Growth Pact is based on the objective of sound government finances as a means of strengthening the conditions for price stability and for strong sustainable growth conducive to employment creation.”

    This is a from the same link as supplied by Jeff.

    It’s beyond belief that anyone with any intelligence could believe such tosh! The conclusion has to be that Danny Alexander’s blundering incompetence was nothing to do with any superiority of Liberalism over Social Democracy, or vice versa, but a simple lack of economic nous.

    The comment by Simon on 1st Dec on this posting was the warning of what was to come.

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-independent-view-autumn-statement-makes-the-best-of-a-bad-situation-26035.html

  • Peter Martin 15th May '21 - 4:20am

    @ Joe,

    “…….New Labour was not only palatable to the working class but a near perfect formula.”

    If that had been the case New Labour wouldn’t have lost the 2010 election. “A near perfect formula” might have been expected to produce a slightly better than 35% vote share in 2005. New Labour only won because the Lib Dems took more votes from the Tories than they did from them.

    Labour lost in 2010 because of the economic crash of 2008. This was a direct consequence of floating the economy on spending fuelled by too much private debt. It was relatively good while it lasted but you can only do when interest rates are high enough in the first place to be then lowered to encourage ever more private debt.

    Once they approach zero, that’s not possible any longer. So the policies of New Labour have had their day and can’t be resurrected now.

  • David Evans

    I was referring to: 13th May ’21 – 2:05pm
    “Marco, I think you are missing the point here. The vast majority of the population share some liberal positions – … – but a lot of them are died in the wool Conservatives, Labour, Green or nationalist.

    So there’s lots of liberals out there but we have no chance of attracting them with liberal policies?

    What are these social democratic policies that you think will attract new voters?

  • Peter Martin 15th May ’21 – 4:20am…….in 2005. New Labour only won because the Lib Dems took more votes from the Tories than they did from them….

    Strange then that both Tory (1%) and Libdem (4%) vote share went up in 2005 whilst Labour’s (5.5%) fell..

    As for the economic crash of 2008 being a direct consequence of Labour floating the economy on spending fuelled by too much private debt???? You must be the last person on earth who believes that..

  • @ expats Do you think that Mr Martin believes those two Americans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were members of the Brown cabinet or is he suggesting that Freddie Mac was the Scottish Deputy Prime Minister ?

  • Peter Martin 15th May '21 - 3:23pm

    @ expats @ David Raw,

    If you are both making the point that the Bush US administration was more responsible for the 2008 crash the Blair / Brown UK one then that is of course fair enough. But New Labour do have to accept their fair share of the responsibility here. They pursued similar policies to the Americans. Have the Lib Dems ever said otherwise?

    The EU too. They wrote out a long list of restrictions on the extent of allowable government borrowing but nothing at all to cover the private sector. The peripheral EU members such as Ireland, Spain, and Portugal had economies which were going gangbusters prior to the 2008 GFC and largely staying within the allowable EU rules and regulations.

    Thank you, expats, for suggesting that I, alone, have the ability to understand what everyone else doesn’t. However, there are many others, such as Steve Keen who have been saying for years that it is the level of private sector debt which has been the main driver of the boom and bust cycle. We have a credit led boom and then a bust to follow.

    https://ritholtz.com/2012/09/private-debt-is-the-main-problem/

  • I suspect that the present government will need to get even worse before the crumble becomes a ruin. Where we campaign with effective candidates we will win. Do we have the resources however for a rout? The solution is a progressive alliance leading to PR and a proper constitution.

  • Katharine Pindar 17th May '21 - 8:30pm

    ‘PM’s housing revolution is a vote-loser, warn top Tories’ is a headline in The Times of Saturday 15th above an article relevant to this thread. It reports that senior Tory backbenchers opposed to the government’s intended planning reforms meant to allow their target of 300.000 new homes to be built each year are warning of Liberal Democrats’ and Greens’ council wins in the Tory ‘blue wall’ south-eastern areas. Specifically, Liberal Democrat council gains in Michael Gove’s Surrey constituency and Priti Patel’s Essex one are mentioned.

    It’s great that we are gaining more council seats in Surrey and Essex, a pointer towards our winning many constituencies from the Tories as we intend at the next election. and I suppose that we in common with some of these top Tories (such as Damian Green) may be opposed to illiberal and anti-local-democracy elements of the proposed planning reforms. Yet it seems strange if we would wish to frustrate the Tory aim of building 300,000 new houses a year. Would that be concerned with the lack of social housing in the probable government plans, or perhaps lack of shared-ownership housing, or environmentally-friendly housing developments with electrical supply from waste organic material? I suppose we want local councils to share in these developments, but can we learn more about our own plans? (Which should I suppose be paid for ideally by LVT, but let us at least have thousands more built!) Can we have some information from successful local councils on their own plans, please?

  • Joe Bourke,

    Re: your post of 11th May 9.06pm

    “membership fell to 42,501 in 2012 and was back up to 117,924 by 2020”

    In 2014 our membership was at 44,680. Most current members were not members in 2014. In 2010 there were 65,861 members at the time of the Presidential election. According to Mark Pack there was a surge in membership in 2015 (up 16,918). If my memory is correct this was mostly following the resignation of Nick Clegg. I expect that the majority of party members were not members sometime before the 2015 election. But the question I would like an answer to is of the 73,244 increase on 2014 how many of them were members in the past?

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