Two points about the Guardian’s analysis of Labour’s campaign

Patrick Wintour has written a long analysis of Labour’s General Election campaign. It outlines strategic misjudgements, disagreements and errors by Ed Miliband and makes a very interesting read. Before anyone says it for me, a similar account for the Liberal Democrats would also be enlightening. Most of us could write it ourselves and I suspect that there would be remarkable unanimity about the ineffectiveness of our national messaging, our positioning as a “none of the above” party and the very odd “stability, unity and decency” message of the last few days.

Two things particularly strike me about Wintour’s article. The first is that women are pretty much invisible. Lucy Powell, Labour’s campaign chair, is mentioned only because of a letter she wrote to the BBC complaining about coverage during the election. Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader, only seems to come in to the picture when she’s waiting for some shred of good news in studios on election night. All the key players seem to have been men. This is exactly the same as it was during the Brown era when Harriet Harman was treated pretty much as an irrelevance. I’m not saying that they would have won the election had they listened to the women, because there is no indication that the women were getting it either. Of course, the ease with which Yvette Cooper seems to be distancing herself from everything Labour said during the election campaign is interesting. Did she put her views forward during it and have them rejected by the cabal at the centre of the campaign?

Similarly in our campaign, men seem to have dominated the decision making. Olly Grender was certainly there doing great practical ground war stuff, but it did seem sometimes as if Clegg, Alexander and Laws were just making stuff up on the bus as the campaign went along and the rest of the operation was playing catch-up.

I wondered throughout the election and beyond if things might have been different if Miliband and Clegg had both stood up to David Cameron and called out the nonsense the Tories were spouting about a potential coalition between Labour and the SNP. That poster of a hapless looking Miliband in a predatory Salmond’s pocket could have been turned to Clegg’s advantage. Way back when they first came up with that, I observed that there was a certain logical conclusion:

You have a coalition between a party with the largest number of seats and another party with about a quarter of the MPs. Does that mean that the smaller party is calling the shots? Cameron clearly thinks that he’s spent the last five years in Nick Clegg’s pocket.

I think we missed an opportunity to make hay with that one. My worry for some time, as I wrote then, was that we were going to end up with a Tory majority. Most people dismissed that but look where we are now.

I can understand a certain reticence on our part to call out the Tory line. After all, Nick had made a great play of standing up to Farage during the European elections and that hadn’t gone so well – although that was more in the execution rather than the idea.

A joint effort where both stood up to Cameron could have benefitted them all. It could have shown that “Hell, yeah” Ed was tough enough to make the right call well. By failing to do so, we and Labour legitimised what the Tories were saying. People did believe that the sky would fall in and that the universe would implode if the SNP had any say in anything.

In truth, that was the only argument Labour had in Scotland – voting SNP gets you Tories. That had worked for them in 2010 and they totally failed to grasp that it had no chance of working in 2015. There is evidence that Douglas Alexander got it, though. He wanted to take something like the line I’ve suggested:

Douglas Alexander wanted Miliband to use the speech to confront Cameron over the SNP. Others saw the occasion as an opportunity to condemn the war in Iraq and reiterate the break with New Labour. By one account, Alexander was furious, declaring that “the party had to stop fighting the 2010 election and start fighting the 2015 election”.

Alastair Campbell – who was increasingly involved in the final weeks of the campaign, even attending meetings with Miliband’s inner circle – wrote a punchy “one nation” speech for Chatham House. “Taking Britain to the edge of Europe and firing the flames of Scottish Nationalism, as Cameron did the morning after the referendum, are desperate acts of survival,” the speech was to have said. “He is a man that cares more about a few more years in power than a few hundred years of a union that has served our country and served the world so well.”

Alexander thought it would work. Others feared it would simply provide another day of media headlines about the SNP. But Baldwin thought it was essential to tackle the issue. “The strategic justification was obvious,” he said. “We had to lance the boil. Walking down Whitehall naked assaulting random passersby would have been better than having another day on whether we would do a deal with the SNP. It was murdering us. We knew it was murdering us because we could get another story up. But we blinked and chose not to do it.”

We and Labour certainly have a long time to repent for what I feel was one of the major strategic mistakes of the election. There are plenty other examples where our campaigns were like “The Thick of It”, but this was a pretty fundamental error that we could have done something about.

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

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  • Not to mention the Pink Bus and the Ed Stone – Labour’s lurch from one gimmick to another meant they failed to address issues raised about their policies and, as mentioned, failed tackling the questions about SNP support head on

  • What’s probably unknowable but certainly significant is to what extent the election turned on the Tories’ ability to massively outspend the Lib Dems and, to an extent, Labour. You can have the best message in the world but if your opponents are able to spend tens of thousands a day in each target seat pouring in targeted mailings and phone canvassing you’re always going to struggle.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 7th Jun '15 - 9:31am

    Iain, that is a very valid point, but that’s always been the way. A message that people believe and not letting your opponent get away with talking complete and utter nonsense about you goes some way to redress that imbalance.

  • Tony Dawson 7th Jun '15 - 9:38am

    “Olly Grender was certainly there doing great practical ground war stuff”

    I have probably known Olly rather longer than most people here but query the “great practical ground war stuff” idea. Surely, our Party did not do any great practical ground war stuff outside of a few places like Luton and York which did not appear to rely on help from the centre at all.

  • It is okay going back over the past, and and as one who forecast the disaster and a Tory majority, we have to openly accept we are where we are. I am very troubled by nobody actually coming out and saying that this party the Liberal Democrats is in a terrible state. We have just had the worst general election since the 1860’s and over the past month our local by election polling has slumped even further. Joe Otten has tweeted about Labour losing the Regional advantage etc, but what about us. In many seats we lost almost 30% of the vote, we went from good seconds to poor fourths etc etc. I could cite Sheffied Central as an example. Our electoral position at the moment is worse than a month after the 1955 and 1970 elections. Is it not time that we talked openly and critically about this. We failed over the past 4 years to do this and look what happened, nothing changed at all, we just slid further and further down the slippery slope. What are we doing now as a group. . Not only do we have to change and have a leader who will challenge this consensus of apparent silence and head burying in the sand, but we as a party, its membership have to say loudly and clearly that what happened within party HQ and at Westminster must not be repeated. There is still a danger that the Lords and Ladies from the Upper House and from a past generation as well as ex Ministers are having too much say, we must move on fast if into this new political world if we are to have any sort of a brighter future, and that means a new approach, a new image, new policies, a leader to take us through three general elections and one who is not so encumbered by the Tuition fees fiasco..

  • Labour were doomed to lose from the moment they picked Ed Miliband. The wheels on his cart were fragile enough to break on any tiny pebble. The shocking thing is that we couldnt capitalise on this in any way electorally.

  • Bill le Breton 7th Jun '15 - 11:01am

    Caron, you may be interested to know that in mid April, I made the call via email to Paddy and Olly for a counter attack based almost word for word on what you say was Campbell’s line, “Taking Britain to the edge of Europe and firing the flames of Scottish Nationalism …”

    I received a long, a very long explanation from Olly that they were using the Blukip campaign as their counter. (The length of that reply may also speak to your first point, if you get my drift). Paddy’s reply was altogether briefer (again I hope you get my drift) but one of the eight words was BLUKIP. Where had such an ill-conceived idea come from that a) focused on the wrong ground and b) was literally a backfiring idea, firming up the votes of our opponents.

    The party has a handful of good campaigners with long records of helping large numbers of people get elected in tough circumstances. None of them were involved in the central campaign, let alone within the real core.

    But that is all water under the bridge. For the future I recommend David Howarth and Will Hutton

  • Bill le Breton 7th Jun '15 - 11:12am

    The reality is that neither Nick Clegg nor Ed Miliband commanded the respect and the ear of the public to deliver credibly the “Taking Britain to the edge of Europe and firing the flames of Scottish Nationalism …” speech. And as a result there is still a real danger that both dire warnings may yet come true.

    Labour’s mistake, our mistake was not to change our leaders.

    It is interesting that those who both implemented and supported the inept BLUKIP campaign also had favoured retaining Clegg as leader when it was clear by May 2011 that he was a dead-weight for us.

  • Phil Rimmer 7th Jun '15 - 11:25am

    The real question isn’t so much why our national General Election campaign was so utterly misguided and ineffective but rather why, when so many party members had been highlighting this possibility for so long, no one near enough to the top of the party to influence things appears to have done anything to even try to change things.

  • paul barker 7th Jun '15 - 11:33am

    Given the lack of movement in the polls since the New Year I dont really see any evidence that the Campaign shifted opinion significantly, the big lesson for us is that we should never join a Westminster Coalition as a junior partner. We were hit by the universal beleif that the result was “too close to call/on a knife edge”. If the polls had been showing the real situation we might have been able to fight our way back to 10% or more but as it was we were given the classic “2 party squeeze”.

  • Paul Rimmer
    I think panic set in a at the top and it got compounded by every by-election. Really the plug should have been pulled on the coalition from about 2012 for the sake of damage limitation.
    Labours problem was pretty simple and not much different to the Lib Dems. A basically unpopular leader and a muddled message . It tried to appeal to its core vote who are mostly anti-austerity and a “middle ground” that has been shifting to the right for decades, Plus they never took Osborne on over the Economy, which had dipped to 0.3 per cent in the month before the election.

  • There’s the problem (hardly unique to the Lib Dems) that criticising campaign strategy during the campaign is either waved off as the nattering of a few malcontents or berated as the advice of malignant traitors and entryists. For a “grassroots” party, the opinions of the footsoldiers are not counted for much.

  • Caron – I’m not sure it has always been that way – though I’d need someone who knows more about these things than I do to confirm.

    The law on spending in elections changed about a decade ago. Prior to that, the Tories could pour money into the air war. What seems to have changed is their ability to focus their greater resources on the ground war in individual seats: apportioning the cost of phone calls, direct mail and leaflets to their more-or-less unlimited national budget as long as they don’t mention the candidate’s name, but targeting the swing voters in marginal seats.

  • David Evans 7th Jun '15 - 12:37pm

    @Bill le Breton. Although I agree with much of David Howarth’s and other’s analysis, I think that we are in danger of falling into the trap of believing that if we learn for the future all will be well. My analysis is much more stark. We now face an existential threat to our very future as a parliamentary party. We remain vastly unpopular as a national party. We are considered to be untrustworthy and now irrelevant. Nick bet the house on his vision. We let him, most of us with little more than a murmur, and he lost worse than almost any of us could imagine. We are back to where we were in the 1960s in terms of MPs and the 1970s in terms of councillors. We lost another 400 councillors in 2015. Our so called heartlands are all but gone with Scotland almost a wasteland and the West Country only a little better. We now have only three seats that have had a Lib Dem MP who has handed the torch on to a successor, and of the seats we have, each was probably also dependent on the personal vote of the incumbent. Bearing in mind no seats where the sitting MP handed on to a successor in 2015, there is nothing to suggest anything other than a loss when the current incumbent stands down.

    Through our incompetence in the Scottish independence referendum we were on the wrong side trying to stand up to a tidal wave, when we should have been clearly on the side of the Scots, clearly offering from the very start at least something like Devo max and preferably full independence. Instead we lined up with the old parties and were trampled underfoot. I doubt if there is any way back there for us now.

    In Government, changes in election expenses were passed through by statutory instrument that has given the Conservatives the ability to spend even more than ever before (under Nick’s Constitutional Change watch). They used it to destroy more than two thirds of our MPs using more resources than we could ever dream of matching, and will doubtless target the rest next time. That coupled with Boundary Reviews could bring us very close to total wipeout in 2020.

    Too many ran away from the chance we had last May to change course before the election. The chance was to say sorry and showing we were changing. After all why should people change their vote from last time if they don’t believe that we have changed? We now have one last chance, but if we continue to ignore the problem and pretend that all that is needed is a good stiff bout of delivering and lot of planning for the next coalition we will have missed the final opportunity.

    We have to clearly, and very publicly repudiate the past five years. A brave attempt to save the country – Yes; but ultimately we were found ourselves too enmeshed in the minutiae of government and stopping the Tories being even worse in a few things, and didn’t see the big picture where we needed to stop the Tories being even worse in everything. We took our eye off the ball. This will take courage, but if our new leader does, we will have a chance to start to turn the corner. If he does not, I am convinced it will be an inexorable decline to oblivion, with the last leader being the last Lib Dem MP standing.

  • “Labour’s mistake, our mistake was not to change our leaders.” – Bill le Breton

    The election in a nutshell, there’s really nothing more to it than this. Right now Tim Farron would of been DPM probably under Chuka Umunna as PM, this would of played far better in the SW & Scotland, everything would of been different. I’ve got no idea why people couldn’t see that 4 years ago, but there we have it, now we’ve got 5 years of tory rule.

  • George Potter 7th Jun '15 - 1:05pm


    Labour didn’t lose because they were too left wing. They lost because they were inconsistent, gimmicky, flip-flopped, failed to develop a coherent economic analysis and grievously mistargeted their ground campaign at Lib Dem seats rather than Lab-Con marginals.

    If Labour had said: “the economic crisis was a global one, although we must hold our hands up for failing to regulate the banks, and Brown took the right actions to get us out of it – only for the promising economic growth to be stifled by Osborne’s strategy which is still driving a much slower, unbalanced economic recovery than necessary. Vote for us if you want a real recovery and economic reform to tackle inequality as part and parcel of that.” then they could have won with that message.

    If they had said: “we overspent and failed to regulate the banks and we’ve learned our lesson. If we win we won’t spend a penny which isn’t justifiable, we’ll stick to the coalition’s deficit reduction timetable and we’ll cut the welfare budget – all so we can eliminate the deficit and start paying down the national debt – and we’ll make sure we make life easier for businesses by cutting red tape” then they could have won with that message as well.

    Labour’s problem was that they never settled on a coherent message on anything. They used gimmicks and big one off policy announcements but never joined it all up or stopped it from being self-contradictory.

    That’s why they lost. Labour could win from a left of centre position or it could win from an ultra-Blairite position but because they have no clue what their principles are any more they’re incapable of committing to either.

    But the idea that the British voting public would never vote for anything to the left of George Osborne’s plans is ludicrous. And if that really is the case then logically we should all join the Conservatives.

  • George Potter 7th Jun '15 - 1:07pm

    Also, I’d say the goal of the party should be to stake out a consistent, coherent social and economic position, become identified with it, and then seek to move the centre ground to that position through campaigning and intellectual argument.

    That’s what Thatcher did and her economic consensus lasts to this day.

  • George Potter 7th Jun '15 - 1:11pm


    Actually the biggest problem is that complaints are always greeted before a general election with “If you’ve got the time to complain then you’re not campaigning enough” and afterwards with “let’s not blame anyone or rock the boat, we all need to pull together and be united”.

    Both of which are a great way of shutting down any analysis or pointing out of of why or how things went/are going wrong.

  • This seems to be worrying about deckchairs rather than icebergs. The election was lost at least two years ago – I can’t imagine any kind of campaign that could have delivered success.

  • The Lib Dems need to stop fixating on Labour and the SNP and start thinking about the perilous state of their own party.

  • I have been arguing on LDV since 2011 that Labour would not win this election because they were not taking the opportunity of being in opposition to consider seriously what they were there for as a party, other than to be not the Conservatives. That still applies, but it also applies to us. If people think that electing a new leader and carrying on doing what we have been doing for the past 40 years is going to rebuild the party then they are wrong. I’m disappointed that Gordon Lishman’s article from yesterday hasn’t provoked more response: that is the depth of analysis that we need to be spending our time on now so that we come out of a period of thought and discussion in the fullness of time with new ideas, new policies, and a coherent understanding of which sectors of the electorate we are aiming to appeal to, and why.

  • A Social Liberal 7th Jun '15 - 3:36pm

    Jason has it exactly right in that there was nothing that the Liberal Democrat party could have done to have pulled an electoral rabbit out of the hat – we had lost the trust of our constituents and nothing could have changed that. AS many on here know, I was arguing from the beginning of my posting here that our leadership had to be changed. This wouldn’t have prevented the destruction of our party at the election just gone but WOULD have started us on the road to recovery three years sooner (if, of course, we chose policies that were based on integrity and not on popular opinion).

    On Labour being left wing – really? How many Labour MPs (never mind their leadership) hold such ‘good’ socialist values as property being theft or of that property residing in state control. [Please note – when I say ‘good’ socialist values I don’t agree with them, but am stating that good socialists do}.

  • Jenny Barnes 7th Jun '15 - 3:50pm

    @jedibeeftrix “No. they lost for all the reasons you mention… and because they were too left wing.”

    Every time Labour have lost an election for the last century, they lost it to a party to their right. Which proves?…
    Absolutely nothing.

    Also George Potter “If Labour had said: “the economic crisis was a global one, although we must hold our hands up for failing to regulate the banks, and Brown took the right actions to get us out of it – only for the promising economic growth to be stifled by Osborne’s strategy which is still driving a much slower, unbalanced economic recovery than necessary. Vote for us if you want a real recovery and economic reform to tackle inequality as part and parcel of that.”


  • Jedi.
    I think Labour lost because they were not ” Left wing” enough. Rent and energy controls were not unpopular with anyone outside of the comments sections of various newspapers. In truth their mistake was more that they never took Osborne over his weak economic record and instead promised more cuts., thus were ended up singing from the same hymn sheet. Not that anyone really succeeded that well. The Tories have a teeny tiny weeny majority based on the vote of about 22 per cent of the electorate in a pathetic sixty per cent turn out with the biggest disparity for votes cast and seats taken on record. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of anyone and especially not the FFTP political system you seem to place so much faith in.

  • Jenny Barnes 7th Jun '15 - 3:52pm

    Computer ate my homework
    Jenny Applauds George Potters statement.

  • ChrisB:
    Alternatively, Tim Farron would have resigned and all those who pushed for leader change would have been blamed for the debacle.

    Jason and Paul Barker might be closer to the inference that participation in a Coalition government has proven to be suicidal. As one who agreed that it was our duty and an opportunity to take part in government, I am left with the sense that I was mistaken. We may have shown that a coalition government can function, providing stability as well as acting as a curb on illiberalism, but at an unacceptably high cost. Changing leader (who really would have accepted by the way?) or/and walking out of the coalition would very likely have led to a similar result.

    The question then is about our base vote from 2010. To what extent was it boosted by ‘non of the above’ voters, who would have preferred to vote for a ‘5 star movement’ type party that aims to disrupt government and rejects any kind of participation? Is this the sort of vote we want to recapture? – Such a component of our vote will always vanish as soon as we are no longer in the opposition. Then there are those who vote for us because we are not Labour/ Tory; even if there was a choice of one side or the other (there was not), half of these will reject a decision to form a coalition.

  • Eddie Sammon 7th Jun '15 - 7:56pm

    I don’t think confronting Cameron over the SNP-Labour scare stories would have made much difference, but everyone who thought the Conservatives might get a majority should be listened to more closely in future :p. I remember my Dad telling me in the run up to the election that he thinks the Conservatives were going to win a majority and my response was “no chance”.

    When it comes to the gender balance: it is something I have felt was happening for a while: men seem to be moving more into backroom strategic roles, whilst women are getting themselves into “front office” roles more.

    I remember seeing Labour advertise this as a way to keep men disgruntled about all women short-lists happy – the message I saw on Labour List once was basically “don’t worry, we will have other roles for you”.

  • Phil Rimmer 7th Jun '15 - 8:59pm

    @ Tony Greaves. Well, your post has survived longer than a simillar one on certain party staff from me did recently. Let’s see if it survives until tomorrow.

    The party is in grave danger of electing a new leader and moving on without having ever addressed the real issue of what things went wrong over the past 5 years and why. Probably not because we have overly rigorous central control of debate but because Liberals think that they have to be nice to each other, must never question another Liberal’s intentions, motives or abilities. We are in danger of suffocating in our own niceness. But I am not a nice Liberal, I say it as I see it.

  • I think there is much sense to be found in these comments, and in particular from George and Bill.

    However, if I may add my own thoughts. There is much that is common between both ours and Labour’s limp campaigns:

    1 – trying to win on policy rather a consistent and clear vision based on issues (see George’s post). People do not much care for a list of ‘good policies’, even ones they like. It seems boring and like a gimmick. They want someone with a clear vision on what they will be delivering, and strong narrative on the issues of the day. The closest Labour got to a national message is ‘we like working class people, and we are not the Tories, we are Tory-zero.’ The closest we got to a national message was ‘look how great we were in this Tory-lite Coalition (you know, the Government you ‘love’ so much). As the Tory-lite party, all we care about is getting back into Government, so please vote us back into Government; it would make us so happy.’

    2 – The Scottish referendum. How anyone in either our own party or Labour could not see how the Tories were playing everyone for fools with the referendum is beyond me. The Tories knew that they had not got anything to lose in Scotland, but both we and Labour had a lot to lose there, so all they had to do was run a fear mongering hate campaign that was just strong enough to keep Scotland in and just nasty enough to make anyone associated with it look like a true child of the ‘Milk-Snatcher’.

    3 – Concentrating on attacking each other, the SNP, UKIP and basically anyone we could target, but the Tories. Labour’s response to most Tory attacks was, ‘yes, actually during 15 years of power, during most of which Britain was at its most prosperous for several decades , we were, as you say Mr Cameron, a bit £%$@!” Our response was ‘I agree with Dave!’

    We were both basically saying ‘vote Tory, vote Tory’.

  • Martin: I did (and do) think going into coalition was the right thing to do. The mistakes were not pushing harder – the fact the coalition never seriously wobbled tells me things were too comfortable – and not getting out earlier. There were any number of solid points of principle where they could have quite reasonably said “We’ve done what we can, but we just can’t support this”.

  • My thought is that we should have disassociated ourselves from the Conservatives at an earlier stage. If, for a year, say, we had been freer to criticise the Tories and make our distinctive contribution, it might – might – have saved the day. Too many people – our local Mp included – kept on making hay regarding the Condem coalition.

  • Caron the flaw in your argument is that you are a Scot and therefore you utterly misjudge the depth of anger in England about all the extra benefits the Scots already get, paid for by England. In the minds of most people in England, a single concession to Scotland is already one too many – the Scots already get a vastly unfairly and unjustifiably good deal from the UK as it is! So the argument that the SNP would be like the LDs in the last parliament only works if we argue that we won not a single concession from the Tories. Any opportunity to allow the SNP to have any scope for negotiating anything had to be blocked!

  • Alistair 7th Jun ’15 – 10:12am …………….Labour were doomed to lose from the moment they picked Ed Miliband. The wheels on his cart were fragile enough to break on any tiny pebble. The shocking thing is that we couldnt capitalise on this in any way electorally…………………..

    Labour lost because the right wing media had run a personal hate policy on Milliband over 5 years (Everything from a “commie’ dad who hated England” to his inability to “eat a sandwich”….Cameron’s lapses over “Coulson”, “leaving his daughter in a pub”, etc., were glossed over ….. These were hardly ‘tiny pebbles’ but, cumulatively, they worked

    As for ‘policies’????? They were barely mentioned….Crosby ran an almost entirely negative campaign; Cameron was kept away from any debate with Milliband (where policies, not personalities, might be mentioned)…It was all about “weak Ed’, ‘Rule from Scotland’, ‘weak Ed’, ‘weak Ed’, …

    What was more worrying was how the LibDems were largely deemed unworthy of attention….Why not; after all the polls and the elections of the last 5 years had shown we were never going to be a major player….

  • If we’re going to have a real assessment of what has been going wrong we need to look back further than 2015. We failed to make the gains we hoped for in 2005 and with few exceptions our electoral prospects have been in decline ever since. Even as our poll ratings went up in 2010 we lost 12 seats in total and made only 5 gains. Some things have been repaired or changed centrally but there are clearly some fundamental failures baked in that aren’t just about coalition. We spent £300,000+ on constituency polling that in retrospect was about as useful as picking numbers out of Paddy Ashdown’s undigested hat. There were still people at HQ claiming we would win 30+ seats right up to the wire and phone banks inexplicably being redirected to Maidstone at 9pm on polling day, where we lost by more than 10,000 votes!

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Jun '15 - 12:16pm


    I am very troubled by nobody actually coming out and saying that this party the Liberal Democrats is in a terrible state.

    I spent a lot of time and wrote a lot of words between May 2010 and May 2015 spelling out in detail just what our party was doing wrong in the way it was portraying itself and just what damage it caused. It has all worked out just as I predicted. Oh, and I’ve just now, see here, in another thread explained why I believe our 2015 election campaign was such a disaster. It was like pulling together all the things where I said the spads and ad-men and The Great and Glorious Leader were getting it wrong, and concentrating them into one big dollop of pure wrongness in order to make the point.

    I also spelled out in detail during that time where I thought Labour was going wrong and what the consequences would be. I invented the phrase “nah nah nah nah nah” to summarise that. Labour though they didn’t need to actually sell themselves and win over support for their line. Oh no, all they had to do was jeer “nah nah nah nah nah” at the Liberal Democrats, and the Liberal Democrats would be destroyed and the good ol’ two-party system would be restored as former LibDem votes came flooding their way.

    As I said, many time, the main effect of Labour and what the “nah nah nah nah nah”s were doing would be to damage the Liberal Democrats and so hand hard-won ex-Tory seats back to the Tories. And so it did just that.

    Our going along with the Tory line that the a Labour minority government relying on the SNP for support would be a disaster because of the huge power it would hand to the SNP was astonishing incompetence. If there was one message we REALLY needed to get across in 2015 it was that a small third party in a no-majority situation actually doesn’t have that much power, especially if the third party cannot get the support of the second party when it wants to try and push its way against the first party. So what did we, or the spads and ad-men and Great and Glorious Leader do? Push the exact opposite message. Like, duh, we are getting attacked, very unfairly I felt (I always defended the formation of the coalition and the compromises I could see in reality had to be accepted) because 57 LibDem MPs could not make 307 Conservative MPs all jump to our tune, so we make a big point in our campaign of saying how 57 SNP MPs could make 307 Labour MPs all jump to their tune …

  • paul barker 8th Jun '15 - 12:44pm

    I was a strong supporter of our joining The Coalition & staying in till the Election. Obviously I was wrong on both counts. We ought to be clear that in the forseeable future, we will not be joining any sort of Westminster Coalition or Pact unless we are the largest Party in it.
    Can I reccomend “the real blog” , currently in the blog column. I think we all realise how bad our situation is but I am unsure whether we are thinking hard enough yet, campaigning is not enough.

  • @martin

    I never agreed on much of the concept of the coalition (wanted a confidence/supply deal) but I don’t think it was the fatal move. I think the mistake was allowing a leader who made a public pledge and then broke it not long after to remain. That facet of the coalition sunk the party, because it was the next big political trust issue after the expenses scandal. As such, the Lib Dems bore the brunt of public frustration with politicians, we’d of taken a hit anyway, but not to this scale.

    >Alternatively, Tim Farron would have resigned and all those who
    >pushed for leader change would have been blamed for the debacle.

    Why? I’m not a big Farron fan myself, but I don’t think he’d of quit in that position.

    >Changing leader (who really would have accepted by the way?)
    >or/and walking out of the coalition would very likely have led to a similar

    Personally I’d of wanted Cable or someone like Andrew George to lead through the last 2-3 years of coalition, because I think they would of helped us differentiate from our coalition partners and distance ourselves from Clegg’s mistakes. We’d of taken a hit, but our centre-left vote wouldn’t of dissipated so greatly to Labour/Greens/UKIP. They weren’t protest votes so much as Labour-ites that found their party engaging in the War in Iraq, PFI’s and a host of other issues that felt like the party had lurched right. So they jumped ship, mainly to us. They’re teachers, social workers, NHS staff, etc, they thought we were like them, we cared about social fabric. When we joined the coalition they started to wonder about that and drift, when the tuition fees vote happened their concerns were realised. They were floating away but that’s when they were truly lost.

  • There is no point in analysing our election campaign because no campaign could get us out of the hole we dug and failed to stop digging. I was in favour of Coalition for the honourable reasons given but no one outside the party believed this they all thought we were power mad. In a strange way they were right, having power made most of our MPs mad, they failed to keep their suspicion about the Tories. I understand that right at the beginning of negotiations the Tories were encouraging our party to ask for certain things but have never been told the details. I would ask why the Tories would do that, because the things that we did do for the most part got a resounding silence from the voters. Now Constitutional Reform is coming up the Agenda with the public but then it was a total turn off for people suffering from recession.
    I don’t want to have to join Labour and certainly not the Tories so I want our party to survive with a new leader, a man of the people, someone who is the members’ choice not the choice of the great and the good in our party because they have tried to lead us astray and failed.
    We are in a very dark place but the light of new members has come shining in to show us that we can survive and build our party on our existing values but in a new way, We must encourage participation in setting a new agenda, finding new economic theories and social policies to help our country maintain support for the ill, the disabled, the jobless, the homeless and all of our citizens who have no voice at present.
    That is why we are in politics surely, to represent these people whom others ignore. We may not be able to do it in Parliament very soon but we can change ideas and the politics of other parties just as Keynes and Beveridge did. Let’s get down to grass roots in every aspect of our party and the Phoenix will rise from the ashes.

  • paul barker 8th Jun ’15 – 12:44pm…………………I was a strong supporter of our joining The Coalition & staying in till the Election. Obviously I was wrong on both counts. We ought to be clear that in the forseeable future, we will not be joining any sort of Westminster Coalition or Pact unless we are the largest Party in it………………….

    Paul, May I ask why you, and so many like you, ignored all the polls, the loss of many hundreds of local councillors and 9/10 MEPs and only now, after the General Election, accept that the course you urged us all to take was wrong?….After all, the GE result was merely in keeping with the results of the last 5 years. What is different?

  • expats:
    I cannot speak for Paul Baker, but I was taken in by the Ashcroft polling, canvassing experience and success in local government that up to a couple of weeks before the election, that more likely than not in my constituency, we were on course to win.

    Was this a wrong perception? Were the Ashcroft polls bent? Was there a strong swing to Conservatives in the last week? At the same point you would, I think, have been predicting utter melt down from before this point. The end result provides some validation to you but not one we should take completely for granted. We do need to understand what (if anything) happened in the last days.

    The importance of a thorough analysis and understanding is underlined by recognising that a similar swing against us also happened in 2010, which is how we actually lost seats compared to 2005.

  • Martin 8th Jun ’15 – 4:09pm …………… Were the Ashcroft polls bent? Was there a strong swing to Conservatives in the last week? At the same point you would, I think, have been predicting utter melt down from before this point. The end result provides some validation to you but not one we should take completely for granted. We do need to understand what (if anything) happened in the last days……..

    But the national polls were showing single digit support….The polls were the same when we were losing hundreds of local councillors, the same when we were losing MEPs, losing our deposits and coming 5th behind a ‘penguin’, etc., etc……

    I’m, seriously, asking what was there that offered any hope of the last minute ‘resurrection’ that some on here were so sure of?

    BTW….The ‘meltdown’ was even greater than I thought; I believed we’d win about twice the number we actually did (still a terrible indictment of our policies) ….. Before the election I wrote here about a discussion I’d had with a large group of 18-25 yos, …There were two parties they collectively said they’d never vote for, “Ukip and Us”…My post received outright mockery from some on here….

    Still that’s the past. Perhaps under a new leader, who can better connect with the grassroots, we can rebuild….At least, this time, Tory policies will not have “LibDem Approved” written on them…

  • Malcolm Todd 8th Jun '15 - 5:20pm

    The trouble with the belief in a “late swing” against us this time is that there’s absolutely no evidence for it. In 2010 the polls showed Lib Dem support swing up during the campaign and abruptly back down again in the final week (though most of us failed to notice). This time, the polls were absolutely consistent for years, with a slow but steady downwards drift in the last 12 months from about 10% to the eventual 8%. Paul barker (among others) believed in two things: that there would be a late swing in favour of the party (but it got later and later and never arrived); and that the incumbent effect and the party’s targeting skills would cushion the impact of the general loss of support. The former always seemed like wishful thinking to me — the latter, though overstated, I did believe would have an impact. In the end, even theakes, the absolute Stormcrow of the LDV “comment community”, was proved over-optimistic, with his predictions of (if I recall) 15–20 seats.
    There was no late swing. There was only delusion, even among those who thought they were seeing clear.

  • Peter Watson 8th Jun '15 - 5:32pm

    I do not know what constituency you live in, but apart from the Labour / Tory split, national polling was not that far off. Looking at e.g. the BBC poll of polls ( for the eve of the election (and the weeks / months before) these figures were spot on:
    Con + Lab = 67%
    UKIP = 13%
    LD = 8%
    Others = 12%
    Based upon months/years of national polling, the outcome should not have been a surprise for Lib Dems. There was a misguided faith in the “incumbency” effect and targeting that meant the party hoped to get 30-40% in a few dozen seats (and presumably near-zero in a lot of others to average out what the polls were telling us).
    As expats, and many others, pointed out over a few years, in addition to polling, the results of council elections, byelections, and european elections were ignored in the hope that it would all come good in the end, but the expectation seemed to be that it would all come good by itself and that the party did not need to change what it was doing or saying. And some of the discussion on this site gives the impression that this view persists in the party.

  • David Allen 8th Jun '15 - 5:47pm

    Labour are revealed as total bungling amateurs. We will never know whether or not their stance on inequality was a vote loser in itself, because it wasn’t that which lost it for them. It was sheer blatant incompetence.

    Caron mentions women. Well, fair up to a point, most of the bunglers were men. However, for my money the champion bungler was Lucy Powell, who told the listening public that what was written on the Edstone wasn’t necessarily a set of definite promises. So, first create a ludicrous Ozymandias stone, then write on it “We solemnly promise to consider all the options”.

    If there was a killer moment, it was when that Tory businessman on Question Time asked Miliband if Labour had overspent, and Miliband weakly just said No. However, a carefully crafted answer (I like the first from George Potter above, which I think has the merit of being true) would only have been slightly better at that stage. The reason is that for the last five years, Labour have failed to rebut the Tory story. Trying to do it a week before the election would have been too late.

    The Tories, who are professionals, know that what works is repetition. Cameron said ad nauseam that he had a long term economic plan. The reason he kept saying it was because it was largely untrue (the word “austerity” has been used to lend a bogus sense of self-assurance to a policy of duck, weave and dither), and it was therefore very important for Cameron to get people to believe it. It worked. Miliband once or twice talked to someone somewhere about Labour’s spening record. Nobody noticed. Cameron talked ad nauseam about Labour’s spending record. Against all reason, Cameron persuaded the nation to blame Labour for a crisis they had watched spreading from the US banking failures to the UK.

    Repetition is marvellous, especially when you need to rewrite history.

  • paul barker 8th Jun ’15 – 12:44pm…………………I was a strong supporter of our joining The Coalition & staying in till the Election. Obviously I was wrong on both counts. We ought to be clear that in the forseeable future, we will not be joining any sort of Westminster Coalition or Pact unless we are the largest Party in it………………

    Paul, the mistake was not that the Lib Dems formed a Coalition government with the Tories – there was really no choice. The mistake was to abandon all your principles, form a love-in, say ‘ we agree on so much’ with the Tories and generally give the impression that being ‘ a grown-up party of government’ was more important than standing by the people who voted for you in such numbers that you were able to form a coalition in the first place. No, that does not mean that I expected the Lib Dems to get everything in their manifesto but nor did I think they would abandon all personal integrity by breaking personal pledges (except for a few brave souls) and look so very comfortable supporting the NHS reforms and secret courts etc. I’m very surprised to see people on LDV saying they would never form a coalition again, with anyone. I thought you guys were smarter than that.

    I also thought you, the activists and membership, were smart enough to ditch the leaders who led you into such a predictable mess well before now. When did you all become so sheep-like?

  • People said, and listened to people saying, that the polls were underestimating the Liberal Democrats and that there was some special factor — incumbency effect and so forth — that would save the Lib Dems in the end because that was what they wanted to believe. It was much easier to accept a fine-sounding story than to sit down and think about all the changes that needed to be changed in order to get the Liberal Democrats off the very wrong track that they were on (and may still be on, if the changes are not made). But then one internal poll after another showed that members could not even admit that they were on the wrong track, despite facing one electoral catastrophe after another.

    For a long time now the Liberal Democrats have been a party of fantasy and illusion. Facing reality will be hard, but continuing on in blindness, or trying to rewrite history to eliminate the voices that were right all through this period of denial, is not an option for anybody who truly wants the Party to survive.

  • Bill le Breton 8th Jun '15 - 6:13pm

    Thanks for kind words above.

    The point I was making was that I got a hearing when I raised the attack line that Caron nows says Campbell was also making over in Labour HQ – it was just rejected because they were pointing in the other direction. It was just rank bad campaigning.

    Also, you need to realise that one of the best campaigners in the party and really responsible for us winning the Eastleigh by-election send weeks before May 7th that Eadtleight was touch and go, then ! I posted on the members forum that I accepted this asssessment and that doing a straight read across, this showed us on 15 or fewer seats.

    Again it was negligent not tto realise the position and to act on that intelligence. Over a year ago – I did an assessment of seats, then, and said that there were only 12 bankers. And that the election team last summer needed to get old hands to visit each of these to see how strong the campaigns were BEFORE moving on to look at the next 12.

    Quite strsaightforward campaigning.

    So, David … I agree we are still in a fight for our very existence. You are not wrong.

    Someone somewhere, I think it was JC/Lord Bonkers said that he hadn’t made his mind up yet about a leader but it would depend much on who that leader chose to surround himself with.

    It is a truth that Charles kennedy allowed himself to be surround by winners and NickClegg allowed himself to be surrounded by losers.

    Who are the leadership candidate’s choices for people to run future campaigns? Would be a good question to ask them at a hustings. Because campaigning is central to communicating values.

  • Tony Dawson 8th Jun '15 - 6:31pm

    @Peter Watson:

    “Based upon months/years of national polling, the outcome should not have been a surprise for Lib Dems. There was a misguided faith in the “incumbency” effect and targeting that meant the party hoped to get 30-40% in a few dozen seats ”

    I think the faith was in a mixture of incumbency and hard work. As a notorious pessimist and self-exploiter, I was confident in the outcome in Southport till a little less than a week before polling day when I overheard a disturbing conversation in a pub between a group of erstwhile Labour voters thinking of voting Tory: something which pretty much NEVER happens in this town. We had comfortably won the postal vote and were, we thought, cruising towards a slightly reduced majority. The conversation which I overheard worried me seriously but there was nothing we could do about it at that point.

    Two things:

    (a) postal voters are considerably- more engaged than your average general election voter and tend to vote disproportionately more in annual local elections also. So, besides voting earlier, they were also more open to the arguments which we bombarded them with in the first three weeks of the campaign during which our Tory opponents did not have one single poster board erected in the constituency.

    (b) there was not a ‘swing’ away from us on any agenda. There was a swing away from our agenda. The late swing was to a different national agenda where the average voter thought we Lib Dems were pretty irrelevant. The election, for many, had gone on for far too long and had ceased to be at all about the strength or weakness of the local MP which is a difficult subject to ‘refresh’ and maintain interest in for people who are not massively-interested in politics.

    Thankfully, in Southport, enough people hung on with our agenda. We were amazed and saddened in the early hours of Friday night to see so many other seats which we believed to be superior to ourselves fall under the late Tory swing.

  • Bill:
    Almost self evidently you make good points, however in addition, I think I remember that you expressed big concerns about where things were going in the last few days, including concerns that tainted data was handicapping the campaign.

    My concern is that in two elections we appear to have been unable to act against a swing away from us in the last few days. The Tories have proved particularly adept at managing the end of the campaign. Obviously they have masses of resources that we cannot match and a generally compliant media, but we have to be more prepared and to have a plan for the end game.

    For those quoting national polls: although they have significance, under FPTP it is the distribution that counts, a point that Ashcroft’s polls claimed to address – even on 20% a party could be heading for no seats.. I would really like to know if the Ashcroft polls contained significant flaws: they were widely accepted by pollsters and pundits as reasonably representative at the time.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Jun '15 - 7:11pm

    David Allen – I would suggest that Ed M actually had a very good message, just for whatever reason he chose not to articulate it. Look at the 4 big hits he scored – opposition to war in Syria, energy reference pricing, some form of mansion tax and abolition of non-dom status.

    I see two connections between those things. Firstly, all had some reasonably credible level of support across the political spectrum. Secondly, and more importantly all have less in common with what might be termed the, ‘open,’ world view and are indicative of a more, ‘closed,’ thinking.

    On each of Ed M’s 4 policies that were sufficiently strong to show up on the public radar he tapped into sentiment that has had a gutful of the idea that openness is for everyone and is an unquestioned good. Had he been able to articulate that and say something to the effect that an Ed M government would not follow the, ‘open,’ orthodoxies of New Labour and Coalition but would look to be a bit more closed he might have got somewhere. In England and Wales at least.

    The message and at least some evidence of its popularity were there – just he didn’t use it.

    As it stands for the LDP, the ideas of, ‘open,’ were taken pretty much to their end point with the Party of IN – whether that will prove any more successful in a referendum campaign is a matter of conjecture.

  • David Allen, I agree with everything you have said.

    I’d like to offer a comment on your paragraph :

    “If there was a killer moment, it was when that Tory businessman on Question Time asked Miliband if Labour had overspent, and Miliband weakly just said No. However, a carefully crafted answer (I like the first from George Potter above, which I think has the merit of being true) would only have been slightly better at that stage. The reason is that for the last five years, Labour have failed to rebut the Tory story. Trying to do it a week before the election would have been too late.”

    I absolutely agree with you that this was the killer moment. In terms of the Lib Dems, their equivalent of ‘Labour’s economic record’ is the whole issue of ‘tuition fees’. I realise that this is painful for LIb Dems but like Labour and the economy, Lib Dems simply have no answer to university funding. Official policy is still to fund HE from general taxation but the Parliamentarians are all wedded to the Coalition policy. It’s a bit of a mess really, just like Labour’s response to their economic record. I think many Lib Dems are still in denial and are hoping this issue will go away. It won’t.

  • Tony Dawson 8th Jun '15 - 7:58pm

    @Little Jackie Paper

    “I would suggest that Ed M actually had a very good message, just for whatever reason he chose not to articulate it”

    Interestingly, Labour did articulate a message which got through in several areas of the country, either significantly increasing their majorities or grabbing back tactical votes from Lib Dems or even taking several seats back off the Tories. In my part of the North West, Labour won both Wirral West and Chester from the Tories. Some thoughts need to go into why this ‘counter-flow’ Labour voting tendency was so effective in certain constituencies only.

  • nvelope2003 8th Jun '15 - 8:52pm

    Phyllis: The Liberals were in coalition with the Conservatives 1918- 1922 followed by a loss of 70 seats and a gain of 30 by the non coalition Asquith Liberals, supported a Labour Government in 1924 and 1929, a National Government in 1931 and a Labour Government in 1977/8. Each time this was followed by varying degrees of electoral disaster – the worst in 1924 which resulted in the loss of 119 seats out of 159 and all but 7 of the 40 remaining MPs probably owed their seats to one of the other big parties not contesting the seat. Why would anyone advocate another coalition or even confidence and supply arrangement with such a record of disaster ? The party might take years to recover , if ever. At the council by election on 4th June in Wisbeech South, Cambridgeshire which was won resoundingly by the Conservatives (up from 32 % to 64%) from UKIP the Liberal Democrat candidate polled about 3% of the vote, down from just over 13% in 2013. This was in an area where UKIP seemed to be doing well. I wonder what will happen to them ? Nigel Farage seems to be rather a forlorn character these days. The Conservatives are in the ascendant and only a disaster or boredom is going to dislodge them.

  • nvelope2003 8th Jun '15 - 9:07pm

    The voters wanted a Conservative Government, even those who did not vote Conservative. Had they wanted another party in Government they would have voted Labour but they did not. It was “the economy stupid” and those who felt a bit uncomfortable with the supposedly “hated Tories” and wanted to make a protest voted mostly UKIP, Green if they could not stand Nigel Farage’s colleagues and SNP in Scotland. Not many voted Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives gained 3 seats in Wales, a place where they have never done well but where the Labour Party has been in decline for years, although they had a slight uplift this time but still lost seats.
    No amount of campaigning or policies would have saved more than 2 or 3 Liberal Democrat seats. Leaving the coalition 2 years ago might have done so but we shall never know. I think it would have been of benefit for the future of the party though as leaving a bad situation honourably looks better than being forced out by electoral catastrophy.

  • nvelope2003 8th Jun '15 - 9:14pm

    Sorry – catastrophe – oh dear !

    In my constituency there were plenty of leaflets delivered and I did not find any hostility – quite the contrary – people were very friendly and polite. The seat was lost by 20,000 -one where the party had been a close contender for over 40 years and the holder for 18. What can you say ?

  • Bill le Breton 8th Jun '15 - 9:58pm

    envelope2003. what can you say?

    Almost 90% of the votes lost from the 2010 election were lost by December 2010. The May 2011 local elections and the AV referendum confirmed this for the less vigilant. Change had to take place then. But it did not.

    Not for the first time I would recommend people read David Howarth’s piece on 5 Things We Should Never Do Again.

    Points 4 and 5 are germane to my points about the obvious situation by the end of December 2010 which could be gleaned from a huge piece of Ashcroft polling published then.

    Howarth’s headlines 4 and 5 were: “We must never again ignore evidence – The party knew Nick was toxic.” and “We must never again fail to have the will to change – The party must never again refuse to change an obviously catastrophic course. It must never again allow itself to be bullied, bribed or bamboozled by a failed leadership into taking no action.”

    By May 2011 we had the fixed term parliament act, the trumped up threat of Britain becoming another Greece was demonstrably absurd and the Tories had reneged on a central issue of the Coalition Agreement. The leadership clung to office and those who could have made the difference clung to the trough of patronage.

  • There is a saying which says ” The Right won the economic war and the Left the Cultural War”. Some elections such as 1945, 1963, 1979 and 1997 there are major shifts by a significant part of the population. In 2015, In Scotland the change was a rejection of a metropolitan middle class Blairite 1997 socialism by an older style more working class municipal socialism whereas In England many have rejected left wing liberal metropolitan public sector dominated cultural politics. A few labour politicians such as Frank Field, Simon Danczuk, Kate Hoey, Lord Glassman and John Cruddas appear to understand the problems and some have summarised the issues as “family, faith and country”.

    Some feminists used say the “The personal is the political”. Part of the problem is that I think a part of the population have become fed up with being preached at by left wing liberal metropolitan public sector largely arts graduates middle class types who believe themselves morally and intellectually superior to anyone who has traditional values with regard family, faith and country. Bearing in mind how few people actually buy the Guardian it is amazing how it believes it s morally and intellectually superior to those it disagrees with.

    What the LDs and Labour need to do is actually solve peoples problems rather than preach at them: especially if it has anything to do with immigration. A classic case is where labour, apart fom A Cryer have ignored mostly pakistani muslim gangs grooming and raping white working class girls. When A Cryer did bring the issue up she was criticised by labour.

    Much of modern day politics is about tone ( perhaps it has always been so ). Middle to upper middle class metropolitan left wing liberal public sectors types and assorted chatterati who believe themselves to be morally and intellectually superior to others and mock in a patronising and condescending way , alienate people. If large parts of the British people agreed with the attitude and tone of The Guardian they buy it: they do do not.

    Kennedy had the knack as does Farage , of speaking to the British people without coming across as considering themselves as morally and intellectually superior. If a person says ” in my experience and through my reading and discussions with people, I consider these are the problems and these are the potential solutions ” , then one can have a reasonable discussion. Once one considers oneself morally and intellectually superior and a good person, then by definition, anyone who disagrees is a bad person and intellectually and morally inferior: this approach is unlikely to result in difficult problems being resolved in an amicable manner.

    The LDs need to listen to the people who have deserted them and stop coming across in such a patronising, condescending and prissy manner, as if they were vicars admonishing the congregation for their moral failings from the pulpit.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Jun '15 - 10:33pm

    Bill le Breton – I have to admit the gravity did not fully hit me until the Euro Elections.

    The one I would add though is no more overstating. The claim that some high percentage of the Coalition programme was LDP policy was a huge blow. Not only did it give the impression of confluence rather than influence with the conservatives but it wildly overstated the LDP position.

    The ratio was something like 1:6 LDP:CON – that is about the level of influence the LDP could credibly hope to have, anything else was a bonus prize. Some of the claims in the early days ramped up expectation to extraordinary levels. I don’t know necessarily what the answer is or what the future can be. But I find it extremely difficult to be optimistic now.

  • Agree with Charlie, if you look at the party response on election night it was Farron saying the electorate had given in to “the politics of fear”, whatever that meant. I don’t understand how wagging your fingers at the electorate could achieve anything other than being tuned out further. The party is terrible at listening, seems to hate facts and runs on its own internal narrative (that’s usually wrong). Clearly these are the reasons for my re-joining. 🙂

  • Chris B, I suspect what Tim meant by “the politics of fear” was that many people were scared into voting Tory by the thought of the SNP controlling Ed Miliband. There is lots of evidence to support this view.

  • David Murray 9th Jun '15 - 12:37pm

    I make no apology for quoting from Charles Kennedy’s book ‘The Future of Politics’ published in 2000. At the end of his Introduction, he says, “…to those who already feel disheartened enough to stop reading, I want to point out that crises merely provide us with an opportunity to take action. The remedy is in our hands. We can only make the most of the future if we are clear about what we want to achieve. My aim in politics is to advance and protect the liberty of the individual, because I believe that this is the only way to achieve true democracy. That, in turn, means ensuring that all people have the maximum life chances, and the maximum opportunities to make the most of their natural abilities, whatever their circumstances.”
    Let us hope that we can learn from the past, (and there is a lot to learn from our experience of the last 10 years) and go forward into the future with a new leader, a clear Liberal vision of the sort of society we want to be part of, and a campaigning zeal to help it come about. Do get hold of a copy of CK’s book, and read it all. It is full of wisdom about our present situation!

  • Richard Underhill 9th Jun '15 - 5:20pm

    Please also see BBC tv Daily Politics 9 June 2015 for more on Labour.
    I will now obtain The Future of Politics and try to learn from it.
    HQ should read or reread The Political Brain, as recommended by Bill Clinton.

  • Richard Underhill 10th Jun '15 - 7:24pm

    Why did Ed Miliband offer David Miliband the job of Shadow Chancellor and not of Shadow Foreign Secretary?

    Did he want to do the job himself, or depend on a loyal supporter?
    Was it something to do with Iraq?

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