Two things the Lib Dems need to do to move forward

It won’t come as much of a surprise that John Rentoul forecasts doom and gloom for the Liberal Democrats. He has never been much of a fan. In an article ifor Indy Voices, he says:

This I think is part of the most important reason the Lib Dems are cast down so low. That “ephemeral group of supporters that always clusters round anything new” is clustering around Jeremy Corbyn now. After Labour did unexpectedly well in last year’s election, Corbyn is the new, improved, exciting special offer in British politics.

We know that in the last few days, former Lib Dem London Assembly member Stephen Knight and former Tees Valley Mayoral candidate Chris Foote-Wood have left us for Labour, so could there be some truth in what Rentoul says?

Well, as Mark Pack pointed out last month, there is evidence of a fair bit of traffic the other way. 

Where Rentoul is right is that our voice simply isn’t getting heard.

Then there is Cable’s invisibility. It is fashionable to say that Prime Minister’s Questions isn’t as important as it used to be, but it is still a potential platform. The Lib Dems’ loss of third-party status in the Commons to the Scottish National Party is significant. During the coalition, Clegg got to sit next to Cameron and very occasionally to stand in for him. Now the Lib Dems don’t even have the two questions automatically allocated to the third-largest party, and so Cable doesn’t have the weekly chance for journalists to say, as they did of Angus Robertson – although not of the SNP’s current leader, Ian Blackford – that he showed Corbyn how leading the opposition is done.

It’s a bit more than that, though.  We are simply being cut out of the story. Journalists would much rather write about the Tory civil war or the differences in policy in the Labour Party than about the party with a clear, distinctive opposition to Brexit and a totally different approach to the other two. Rentoul admits that many of those supporting Labour aren’t sure of their policy on Brexit.

Some Labour supporters care a lot and are desperately disappointed with Corbyn’s insistence that the referendum must be respected, but most of them seem to be focused on the campaign to stay in the single market. Others care a lot but don’t really know what Corbyn’s position is, or they assume his opposition to a “Tory Brexit” means he is with them.

Nobody talks about how Labour has enabled the Tories at every stage in their pursuit of a hard Brexit.

If you look at the big Sunday political programmes, there isn’t one single Lib Dem on today. Marr, Peston, Sky, Sunday Politics, Westminster Hour are all Lib Dem free zones. Last week, you couldn’t switch on the tv or radio without coming across Henry Bolton, who, for the moment at least, leads a party that has no MPs and is barely registering in the polls.

This is absolutely not down to lack of effort on our part.

So what can we do to try and be heard? There are two big things we need to concentrate our efforts on.

The first is to show people very clearly how Brexit can be stopped. The number of Remainers I speak to who are resigned to our fate is quite staggering. We have seen this weekend that people want another say by a pretty significant margin. They are coming round to our way of thinking. They just need to be shown how we get out of the mess we are in.

The other thing we need to do is that we need to be a bit more proactive in tackling the coalition legacy. Last Autumn, YouGov found that a large proportion of Remainers are still narked at us for the Coalition. Many of them won’t know that Vince is trying to tackle the tuition fees issue by moving towards a graduate tax. That is pretty much what he wanted to do back in 2010 but you can’t always get what you want in the harsh reality of the Coalition.

There are some who think we need to do a massive mea culpa for ever going into coalition. I think we need to acknowledge that we supported stuff, like the Bedroom Tax, that we shouldn’t have touched with a barge pole. Then we need to talk about the realities of that time and show what we did achieve.  We can’t allow it to be forgotten that we put more money to help disadvantaged kids in school, we let people earn more than five grand a year before they started paying tax, we did loads to improve mental health care and attitudes. Our hearts lie in breaking down barriers, challenging the establishment and tackling inequality and we did that even in the most difficult circumstances.  Did we make mistakes? Yes, of course we did. But look at the current lot.

Vince needs to continue to talk about inequality. I’ve been really pleased that he has continued to talk about homelessness. 

We need to join the dots between Brexit and inequality. If we stumble into this ill-thought out Brexit which is being dictated by the fault lines in the Conservative party rather than what is actually good for the country, enabled by Labour, the people who will suffer most will be the poorest when there is simply not enough money for the public services that they need.

We need to offer people an optimistic, liberal vision of a more equal society. In a polarised world, it can be very difficult to build bridges when it is in the interests of others to tear them down, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

It’s time for a big picture that shows how they can play their part in building that society where none are enslaved by poverty, ignorance and conformity.  It won’t happen overnight but at the same time as we need to give people confidence that we can get out of Brexit, we must show how we will build the fairer country that most Remainers actually want.

 

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

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107 Comments

  • Trevor Stables 28th Jan '18 - 11:47am

    Caron, I largely agree, my tuppence worth of thought..

    We need Policies much more RADICAL and different. ( We are on Brexit and have gained tens of thousands of members)

    We should pledge to spend on health the same GDP as France AND look at European Healthcare Systems like France for ways of empowering Patients and ending postcode rationing. Look at opening more hospitals to get bed numbers up to European averages.

    We are being left behind on Infrastructure in UK, especially in midlands and North, invest more.

    Stand for 50% of All Westminster seats being for women, and 50% of our candidates being women

    AND

    Look for more imaginative ways of Campaigning and being seen for our top Team.

  • I would recommend the following:-
    1. We all read the posting by Alister Meeks in todays Political Betting web site. It is a lengthy document outlining our poor position in supposed target areas and the reality behind most.
    2. He concludes “the Lib Dems will need to fight the next election exclusively in target seats – anything else will be a waste. I strongly suggest that if the seat isn’t on this list of 52, it should essentially be ignored next time around. Candidly, 52 right now looks far too high a number to be aiming at.

    Next, the Lib Dems need to build policies to help themselves in their target seats. That means taking on the Conservatives. There is no point in taking on Labour because there are next to no Labour seats that they can take. Fortunately, there’s a nice big space between a Labour party that has taken the next left turning after radical socialism and a Conservative party that has decided to major on implementing a nationalistic Brexit, where the Lib Dems could hunker down and turn their guns on the Conservatives. So the opportunity is potentially there. They just need to take it”.

    3. For me I feel Brexit should not be our target. What is going to happen is basically outside our control and we are wasting precious energy & time worrying about it. Brexit is not the publics main concern, seems it is the NHS.

    4. We still live in a dreamland half the time. Carons article is much better, it does attempt to set out part of our dilemma but blaming the lack of media coverage etc is
    I would suggest, avoiding the harsh reality the awful misjudgements of Clegg and his ilk in coalition, that will continue to haunt us for a a long time. You cannot wipe the betrayal of Tuition Fees away, the public have long memories and it has virtually destroyed our support with young people, who will of course have years of voting potential in front of them.

    5. Shouting about the odd local by election success is one thing, but we should be working to understand the many failures, why we only poll 2 or 3% in so many of these seats, one of which is still the memory of Cleggs destructive actions.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 28th Jan '18 - 12:00pm

    We do indeed “need to offer people a liberal, optimistic vision of a more equal society”.
    Sadly, the Party is not perceived as offering that vision. Unfortunately, much of the time, the Part is giving the impression that its only “vision” is of Britain staying in the EU – which cannot really be called a vision at all, as it would just be a matter of keeping the status quo.
    People cannot get excited about a campaign to keep the status quo. They get excited by the promise of change. It is Corbyn who is perceived as offering change – a “vision for a more equal society”.
    I think most pro Remain Labour supporters are perfectly well aware that Corbyn is not trying to prevent Brexit. He hasn’t mislead anyone. He has always made it perfectly clear that he believes the referendum result must be respected. Pro Remain Labour supporters support Corbyn despite this, because they believe there are other issues more important than the EU.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 28th Jan '18 - 12:02pm

    Meant “Party”, obviously, not “Part” – “the Party is giving the impression…”

  • I agree with most of this. But I have posted my views here often. It would be really interesting to hear from people who don’t post very much, rather than (with respect) the same old same old. I really hope some silent LDVoices will say what they think.

  • Laurence Cox 28th Jan '18 - 12:14pm

    Vince’s graduate tax is just putting lipstick on a pig. I would rather go back to our original policy of abolishing student tuition fees entirely. We also need to cut the number of students; 50% is just unaffordable. Germany does very well with only about 30% of their cohort going to universities, but they also put a heavier emphasis on apprenticeship, which is far less expensive to provide.

  • @Catherine Jane Crosland – that ‘Lexit’ narrative of yours is nonsense. For a more equal society we need to preserve our welfare state and our social rights legislation, which absolutely requires staying in the EU

  • It would help if the Lib Dems had a policy to deal with homelessness. Perhaps someone could enlighten me if they have – but whatever one thinks of Corbyn J. he did at least enunciate a cogent policy on homelessness on the Marr show this morning.

    It would also have helped if Vince had spoken in the Carillion debate instead of leaving it to Jamie Stone. Having a hat and winking is not an alternative to cogent relevant policies on issues like inequality, poverty, the NHS and Social Care and the imminent financial collapse of school Academy chains.

    An empty vacuum will produce no new support.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 28th Jan '18 - 12:44pm

    Red Liberal, Well it’s perfectly possibly to have a welfare state and social rights legislation without being in the EU. We had a welfare state before we were in the EU. We need to ensure that workers rights etc are preserved – and indeed improved – after Brexit. There may be a danger of rights being lost, but it is certainly not inevitable.

  • David Becket 28th Jan '18 - 1:28pm

    Opposing Brexit should not mean the status quo. We are still tied by Clegg’s gaff, “I expect it to be the same in ten years time”. We need to be working with Liberals in Europe to form the Europe we would like to see. That includes;
    Reform of Agricultural and Fisheries Policy
    Freedom of movement to include travelling to work, to study, to retire (providing you can support yourself) but not moving on the off-chance that something will turn up
    Acceptance of a two tier Europe, with us as leaders of the second tier
    Pulling out of Strasburg would be great, but the French might stop that.

    That must be backed up by policies at home to reduce inequality, ensure EU workers are paid the minimum wage, assistance to areas with high levels of immigration, and the speedy removal of illegals. Plus the issues of Homelessness, NHS, Education.

    A new deal and a reformed Europe should be our vision, but we have not had a leader since Charles who can promote vision.

    We must also challenge the Brexiters to come clean. What is their vision, and how are they going to achieve it? Where will they trade where they are not trading now, will they maintain environmental and employment standards? Will their trading be ethical?
    At the moment they are getting away with blue murder.

    Our policy of staying in the single market but leaving the EU does not make economic sense. We still pay the price but have no say.

  • I think the first thing is to try and project roughly 10 years from now.

    10 years does seem quite a long time in the future but 10 years ago does not seem that long ago!

    If you look at 87 – Labour suffered its second biggest defeat. In ’97 it enjoyed its biggest victory.

    In ’97, the Tories were “dead and burried”. By 2010 they were back in Government.

    In ’92, the Lib Dems were very shaky after the difficult merger and a very small increase in MPs – perhaps similar to ’17. By 2005 we had the biggest number of Lib Dem MPs we have ever had.

    This does not of course mean that success/recovery is guaranteed or to be complacent – indeed the complete opposite!

    It does mean that FPTP is a hard task master. And it exaggerates failures and successes.

    It does mean that the three UK-wide political traditions – Conservative/Right Wing, Socialist/Left Wing and Liberal/Centre have quite deep roots and strength.

    Roughly we are in the same position as we were in 92 in England in terms of MPs. Scotland may or may not improve quickly depending particularly on the SNP.

    It needs two things. Massive organisation and work at grassroots. And this involves both massive optimism and massive pessimism!!!!

    Optimism to go and deliver 4 leaflets where we would only be delivering 1! Pessimism to target ruthlessly – both parliamentary seats and wards within non-target seats.

    Second is needed. Is a change in political direction and the overall political narrative. In the run up to 97 we abandoned “equidistance” and the overall political climate was one of ditching the Tories and more public spending on Education and Health.

    After 2005, Cameron signalled his change of direction from past Tories. In 97, Blair had new Labour. In 2017, Corbyn was a change from the Blair/Brown years.

    For me, that means signalling a change of direction from the Coalition – for me embracing free university tuition fees. I think also it means funding NHS and education generously. And basically saying we would support Labour in this.

    I think also there Brexit or Nexit (No exit!) will be the over-arching factor in the political environment. And we should have stance not to exit in order to fund our public services better (Brexit costs the public finances £300 million a week).

    Of course the final thing is not to fight the last general election(s) (!) and it is often quite tempting to learn the WRONG lessons from history!

  • Red Liberal 28th Jan '18 - 1:32pm

    Anyway, I joined the LibDems from Labour last February, and I’m currently leaning towards not renewing my membership. The anti-Brexit campaign has been far too weak. LibDem peers seem to have caved in already. If this place is a barometer, many LibDems are Brexiteers. I feel that the LibDem party has hitched itself to a bandwagon campaign that it is deep down insincere about. Perhaps I was/am looking for an unambiguous “Remain Party”, which the LibDems don’t and can’t properly deliver, who knows.

  • William Fowler 28th Jan '18 - 1:39pm

    Labour are slowly heading towards the customs union/single market solution and if that happens I see LibDems doing even worse next time around. Vince Cable is a nice chap and knows how economics work and will not come out with a load of Labour-like disinformation on spending that if implemented would rapidly turn the UK into Zimbabwe mind, (it would solve the national debt by making it more or less worthless as the currency disintegrates). With no current policies that break through to the electorate (and there is a long list of possibilities already suggested), LibDems need to up their game pronto.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Jan '18 - 1:44pm

    I agree with much of the Rentoul article, it is merely stating facts.

    The comments after are more interesting. One visits here often and described this site and the disparate views. We re not in agreement on anything in economics, some like left wing Corbyn, others centre right laissez faire.

    There is a vast space in the centre and moderate centre left , where much of Britain is.This party is not offering it fully because it is the UKIP in reverse party added to the right on but left leaning identity politics virtue signalling party at times too, or gives that impression sometimes.

    It lacks leaders who seem to be where most are at. Norman is one, but was cast aside for basically taking a similar view on Brexit to Labour. Tessa Munt was one not promoted by the party , she represents the mainstream and speaks of sensible peoples concern on issues. Norman Baker, Shirley Williams, Paddy Ashdown, these are fluid , tough, likeable, honest.

    Layla Moran, the one candidate and a very warm one, untainted by coalition, thinks if we leave the EU, we should immediately start to push to go back in.

    Clouds, head, what is the expression ?! That is the reality of many in this party.

    There is a vast space to be filled by a new grouping.

    If someone like Keir Starmer or Dan Jarvis or Norman Lamb and all in a new party led from the front but with a ground swell of interest, calling itself Common Sense or something similar started, we would have the Five Star movement plus En Marche !

    As it is we are heading for a re branded Tory party clinging on under Amber Rudd or David Davis !

  • @Rick Heyes

    Thanks for joining!

    “Regarding Brexit, people are not coming round to the idea of a ratification referendum.”

    According to the Guardian: “Voters support the idea of holding a second EU referendum by a 16-point margin, according to one of the largest nationwide opinion polls since the Brexit vote.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/26/britons-favour-second-referendum-brexit-icm-poll

    —-

    @Red Liberal
    “If this place is a barometer, many LibDems are Brexiteers.”

    A recent academic survey of party members found 91% of Lib Dem members favour a second referendum

    http://www.qmul.ac.uk/media/news/2017/hss/survey-of-britains-party-members-reveals-glaring-contrasts-between-tories-and-other-parties.html

    “I feel that the LibDem party has hitched itself to a bandwagon campaign that it is deep down insincere about. ”

    Well – sometimes to our detriment – the Lib Dems/Liberals/pre-merger SDP have been the only consistently pro-European party! For 40 – indeed 50+ years!

    “Perhaps I was/am looking for an unambiguous “Remain Party”, which the LibDems don’t and can’t properly deliver, who knows.”

    Well none of the other parties are delivering this – certainly not Conservative or Corbynite Labour. The only thing that will see them (particularly Labour) change direction against Brexit is if we do well electorally.

    @Trevor Stables

    In France 40% of those on below average incomes find it difficult to meet their medical bills. I would support increasing NHS funding by 10% in real terms (1% more of GDP) to take it up to roughly European levels.

  • OnceALibDem 28th Jan '18 - 2:08pm

    This is a really good article by Caron and important to see that – at last – the issue about the party’s lack of progress is being engaged with and not hidden with talk of membership growth, local election success or slighly spurious polling analysis.

    The issue about putting distance between the coalition years is a vital part of that. Essentially its the big shield issue in party messaging and without that it is really hard to get traction on other issues. That has become easier now with the passage of time – but up to know that idea seems to have been that as time passes people will realise how good the coalition was. Essentially the view of people who thought they were doing a good job when actually they weren’t

    But really the party has shifted ground significantly – in 2010-15 they were cutting taxes and reducing NHS funding (at least keeping the increase in funding down which was having that effect in practice). Now the message is raised taxes to increase NHS funding. It isn’t a shift of emphasis it is a profound 180 turn – and that needs to be reflected in what the party says about the coalition.

    And Vince is ideally positioned to do that – he is respected outside of his role in government and the tuition fees stuff stuck to him a lot less than Nick (oddly and perhaps unfairly!)

  • @David Raw

    “It would help if the Lib Dems had a policy to deal with homelessness. Perhaps someone could enlighten me if they have”

    See
    https://www.libdems.org.uk/conference-autumn-16-f9-end-to-homelessness#

    and https://www.libdems.org.uk/families

  • paul barker 28th Jan '18 - 2:51pm

    The Rentoul piece on Political Betting .com is well worth reading but politics doesnt just happen at Westminster. The first stage of our Recovery has to be to rebuild our base in Local Government & there is good reason to hope that we can make a big start on that in May. A good Libdem performance then is also the best contribution we can make to fighting Brexit.
    Our performance in Local byelections over the last 7 Months is not just a matter of of “the odd success” but a story of consistent & rapid improvement. The fly in the ointment is our performance during & just after The General Election campaign last Year when our support collapsed, if theres another General Election this Spring that could happen again. I cant help worrying about that as The Government staggers from one crisis to another but theres nothing we can do about it.
    What we can do is make our Anti-Brexit message clearer & keep going; we could give The Media, the Commentariat & Labour a nasty shock in May & the more they dismiss us now the bigger that shock could be.

  • It’s certainly true that Vince has been fairly invisible and naturally, the media are happy to almost completely ignore us, even more so now than ever, due to our loss of third party status.

    However, we really don’t help ourselves at all. We absolutely should be focused and clear on our opposition to Brexit, but not at the expense of all else. It feels even less clear of what we’re actually for, aside from ‘we don’t like brexit’ (and the occasional bit of virtue signalling over identity politics) than usual.

    We just seem to have so little to say on so many issues – and even when we do we don’t run with them. For instance, there was a good piece in the news about us pointing out the vast number of empty homes across the UK. Presumably a lot of work went into researching this and getting the media to take note. Yet the party itself appears to have done nothing more with it aside from the press release. No expansion on this or pushing a policy to deal with it, no blogging on here or on social media. Why not?

    Our lack of clear reason for even existing is particularly pronounced in Wales currently. If we win back some AMS, it’ll be because of UKIP’s implosion, not because of anything we’ve been doing. Even at a local level – in Cardiff we went from running the council a few years back to now being the third biggest party with just 10 councillors who don’t appear to have much to say on a political level (though I’m sure they are continuing to work hard for residents). To a lesser extent it’s the same in London – we’ve had a few recent good observations on things from our sole AM, but anything to really get people going about the Liberal Democrats, not that I can tell to be honest.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Jan '18 - 3:41pm

    The article, here about the newspaper article and the comments here too, are constructive.

    The problem is the extent of interest or dislike with regard to Brexit.

    Catherine Jane , here seems to understand that we are capable as a nation of doing anything we want to post Brexit.

    It is true we must fret and speak about the economy as it might develop and that might be a deterioration. Yet it is the criticism of our society and not our future prospects that is the resonance of Corbyn. He might not think it, but it is as it was when Blair won, hope, not fear ,change, not despair.

    Vote Liberal Democrat to stop a potential disaster might sound good if you are convinced of this possibility as a likely reality. If you are not, it is mere speculative and negative, talk, not walk.

    Be convinced or not, people think Corbyn is walking his talking !

  • You are wrong Caron, about Brexit. We don’t need to show how Brexit can be stopped. We need get the EU to agree to a new deal with the UK staying in the EU. We need the EU to solve the two main issues of the referendum campaign – firstly reduce economic migration across the EU and into the UK, and give power back to national Parliaments.

    Yes we have to have policies to reduce relative poverty and increase economic equality, but we don’t have them.

    We could have policies to introduce a Basic Citizens Income to replace the Income Tax Personal Allowance with the aim of getting it to at least £72 a week during a five year Parliament. We could promise to increase Child Benefit to at least £85 a week to get all children out of relative poverty. We could reform out of work benefits so people can keep more when they work. We could have a policy to abolish the Benefit Cap. We could restore the link between housing benefit and rents and increase the amount of housing benefit a person can claim so they have a wider choice and are not forced into the worse 20% of the private rental housing stock. And of course we could promise that everyone who wanted a job would have one if the Liberal Democrats were in government.

    We also need to promise we will not support austerity. And that we now believe that the only way to reduce budget deficits is by having economic growth.

  • @ Michael Thank you for posting the current ‘policy’ on homelessness, Michael.

    As so often with Liberal Democrat Conference Resolutions, I’m afraid it’s an 800 word descriptive essay rather than a costed policy statement of intent – and with a preamble which recites how homelessness more than doubled between 2010-15 on the party’s watch during the Coalition.

    Words aplenty – but very short on specifics I’m afraid.

  • chris moore 28th Jan '18 - 5:35pm

    I don’t support the abolition of tuition fees.

    Students need to be supported when they are poor. And need to pay back when they are rich. That is progressive.

    There need to be generous bursaries for students from poor backgrounds.

    It’s socailly regressive to have free tertiary education.

    Abolishing tuition fees would also require serious cuts elsewhere. The welfare state should be aimed at the most needy. We have disappointing levels of inequality in the UK. Transferring money to students, who, in general, later end up being the wealthiest in society, is not a progressive policy.

    Are we in favor of serious redistribution or not? The tuition fees unpopularity suggests most middle class voters are up for re-distribution of wealth – to themselves.

    A graduate tax is a passable alternative to tuition fees. Again it supports students when they are young and poor; and makes them pay back, if and when they are earning above a certain threshold.

  • We might be struggling to get quality media coverage, and we’re bumping along in the polls, but what we do have is a lot of new members, and we need to make the most of that, and that means more than bragging about it to people who aren’t listening. As many as possible need to be encouraged to get involved locally, and where possible, attend conference. Are we doing enough to make it easy for people from under-represented groups to attend conference? And would we encourage more parents with younger children to attend if we could organise an on or near-site crèche, rather than expecting people to find something locally, and then possibly be able to reclaim the costs.

  • chris moore 28th Jan '18 - 5:48pm

    How do the Lib Dems get back into the fray?

    1. Vince is a capable leader. But a caretaker in my view. We need to go for someone much younger. And certainly a woman. Layla Moran is currently too inexperienced. But give her a couple of years and she may develop into a serious possiblity.

    2. Coalition. There were some obvious blunders. But we shouldn’t forget the many important achievements, which overall transferred resources and support to the poorer.

    3.Patience. It’s not going to be quick. We don’t need to panic. There’s a liberal current of thought and feeling in society, which is not going to disappear. We will not disappear either.

    4. We are the anti- Brexit party. Unfortunately, that’s all most voters know about us. Most voters do not prioritise Brexit over every other issue. We seem detached and abstract to much of our former core support. We’ve got to talk about inequality at every opportunity. And we need another iconic policy, which voters can identify us by.

    .

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Jan '18 - 5:59pm

    The general unease expressed by many here that Labour is inevitably in a stronger moral position than we are and will continue its present leadership of progressive thinking is, I think, unnecessary. The same hopeful poll reported in Saturday’s Guardian and linked by Michael at 1.58 today leads to a significant headline there, ‘Labour voters increasingly in favour of rethink on Brexit’, with the article suggesting that “The findings may highlight the divide among Labour MPs over how much to support the government’s Brexit strategy or call for a wider rethink of Britain’s decision to leave.” Indeed. The Labour Opposition’s fence-sitting which conceals the divisions among Labour voters as much as among the MPs cannot last much longer. How can they support staying in the EU single market and the customs union without accepting the Four Freedoms? How can they reconcile the external barriers of the customs union with having free-trade agreements with other countries, or an open border in Ireland? What is the sense of their focus on the ‘transitional arrangements’ without any clear idea of the outcome to be found at the end of the two or more years of transition?

    In short, the Labour Opposition’s policies are as contradictory and fanciful as the Government’s, and can be shown up as such in the next few months. We will emerge as the only national party with a clear and unambiguous message of the need to remain in the EU, and with sensible ideas for its reform. Meantime we should do as Michael BG proposes and develop our policies to help with poverty, welfare blight and inequality. I would suggest that in view of the impending increase of council tax, afflicting the poorest payers most, one of the first policies we should adopt is to restore the national Council Tax Benefit Scheme or propose more radical reforms to reduce the burden of this tax on the poorest.

  • Arnold Kiel 28th Jan '18 - 6:19pm

    Stay firm on Brexit; more tailwind is coming
    Target ruthlessly
    Attack the Conservatives ferociously, Labour conciliatorily; make it clear: a vote for the LibDems is not lost for PM Corbyn
    Forget the past

  • As an ex Lib Dem member like OnceALibDem, I would like to know what the Party are doing to encourage those of us who left back? Many ex members didn’t necessarily join or support another party so more work needs to be done on this and how they can be attracted back to the Party. The coalition caused many people to leave but things have moved on since and Vince Cable is the right person to lead the party now. I don’t see age as an issue either, just look at Corbyn and Vince is more than capable of articulating policies and a message which should resonate with voters. He did this very well on the EU recently on Farage’s show. Also on the EU, the Party needs to question what will happen to the benefits of our membership after leaving (I can’t stand the B word). What will happen to the ESF monies which support disadvantaged communities throughout the UK with employment projects, vocational training in FE, pensioners groups etc. The government should be put on the spot as when this money goes who will fund it as I don’t think this is being thought through? It is also very concerning that there are people in the Conservatives who will undo all the good the EU has done on workers rights, environmental protection laws etc and then privatise public services like the NHS if they get their way. These people are making more noise and need to be challenged by Liberal Democrat MPs. The party also needs to have clear policies on crime and boosting community policing and more specific support for the victims of crime. How about more joined up working with the Greens where the two parties agree on local issues.

  • Steve Trevethan 28th Jan '18 - 6:34pm

    Greater equality is good democracy and good economics.
    The correlation between big money donations and the acquisition of political power illustrates the former, as does research indicating that people find governments of more unequal societies less trustworthy than those of more equal societies.
    Because “the poor” cannot afford better housing their “demand” for it is ineffective while “the market managing rich” ensure that ever scarcer assets are used to increase their assets. ( See Oxfam “Reward Work Not Wealth”)
    “The culture of the last few decades has reduced us to closet egalitarians: it is time we came out of the woodwork and set a course for sanity.”
    (“The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone” by Wikinson & Pickett)

  • The hard Brexit the Tory right seek will not happen because without convergence (with EU regulations) we will not be able to keep the promises we have made regarding the Irish border. It follows we will have a very soft Brexit, the nation will have been saved and we wil have played a vital part in that. Will the electorate reward us at the ballot box ? Be serious. Did they reward Churchill in 1946 ? Virtue will have to be its own reward.

  • @ Chris Moore “Coalition – But we shouldn’t forget the many important achievements, which overall transferred resources and support to the poorer.”

    Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ?? As my four year old grandson sometimes says when told some adult tale : “I don’t think so”.

    Download this PDF report by Oxfam : ” The true cost of austerity and inequality: UK case … – Oxfam International https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www…/cs-true-cost-austerity-inequality-uk-120913-en.pd.. Extract below :

    “Inequality : When all austerity measures are taken into account, including cuts to
    public services and changes to taxes and welfare, the poorest tenth of the population are by far the hardest hit, seeing a 38 per cent decrease in their net income over the period 2010-15.41 By comparison, the richest tenth will have lost the least, comparatively, seeing a 5 per cent fall in their income. There is also continuing evidence that the very richest are faring much better since the economic crisis. The super-rich – the top one per cent of earners – pocketed 10p of every pound of income earned in the UK in 2010-11, up from 7p in 1994-5.

    Meanwhile, the poorest 50 per cent of the population took home between them only 18p in every pound, down from 19p.44 At the very top, Britain’s richest 1,000 individuals saw their wealth increase by £138bn in real terms between 2009 and 2013.45 Even measures designed to stimulate the economy have resulted in significant gains for the richest – the richest five per cent of households hold 40 per cent of the assets that increased in value as a direct result of quantitative easing. All the while, the poorest tenth are taking home even less.”

    I’m afraid the evidence is against you, Chris, and I stopped believing in Nick Clegg and his pal Danny as Santa Claus and Santa’s little helper some while ago.

    It’s going to take a long long time to get over it – probably not in my lifetime. In the meantime, any old which way, we must replace the current incompetent bunch of rascals out of government.

  • At risk of replying to myself, I see there are a couple of very promising looking Launchpad events that look like a great way of connecting with members, and could be particularly effective at getting new members involved in a meaningful way, especially those that might be intimidated by conference.

    https://www.markpack.org.uk/153878/liberal-democrat-launchpad/

  • @ expats What as happened ? Did you ever read Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ ?

    I did it for ‘O’ level back in 195758.

  • @David Raw
    “Thank you for posting the current ‘policy’ on homelessness”

    Thanks!

    “Words aplenty”

    Um… policy I Contains words by definition. Corbyn who you praise earlier was just spouting words. Criticise the policy by all means but you can’t criticise policy for being policy because policy is by definition policy which contains words!

    On the record of the different parties in Government on building social housing

    Since 1979, I think the fairest thing is to say it has been poor under all of them including under Labour which Corbyn was part of as a Labour MP.

  • Trevor Stables 28th Jan '18 - 7:12pm

    OnceaLibDem picks up a point on French Health Care which I argue should be emulated.
    Dental Care included in French system. Anyone noticed how unaffordable British Dental Healthcare has become and what is not covered and the state of dentition in many people because of it?

    I would argue allocating NI in an hypothecated tax and creating Peoples Mutuel Associations to really give People power over their health. It’s time we stopped Doctors having to ration access to care. Separate funding from diagnosis.

    Thirdly, make Health care records, tests, letters, results the property of patients with a copy being sent to GPS. Time for us as Liberals to advocate strongly more patient control.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Jan '18 - 7:39pm

    Trevor Stables

    Strong and Stables ! There is a slogan that is genuine, for and about you, the above the most really Liberal post here in ages!

    Patient control, patient choice, real not fake, not control by doctors or managers or government or corporations, this is the kind of thing if we could extend it to benefits and income and learning and nearly everything delivered by public services whether directly run by state or companies, this could be a real vote winner.

    The party could not properly agree on it, the centre right would say yes too much to the private companies, the centre left say , the trite, what we need is for every hospital or school to be good, result, nada !

  • As regards the lack of media coverage, we need to complain more. I mean complain to the broadcasters, not to each other! Imagine if everyone who posted here, or is reading this, complained about the lack of LD presence on the Sunday programmes today. Will it have any effect? I don’t know, but we can try can’t we? At least it is something constructive we can all do.
    Here are some of the websites.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/contact_us/making_a_complaint.html
    http://www.itv.com/viewerservices
    https://www.sky.com/help/articles/how-to-make-a-complaint (this one is mainly about contracts but there is an email address halfway down the page for programme complaints).

  • Phil Wainewright 28th Jan '18 - 8:24pm

    Other parties seem to get coverage when there are leadership challenges. We are far too collegiate for our own good. Maybe some of our prospective leaders-in-waiting should start agitating for more radical policies – it might even draw attention to our values.

  • @David Raw

    Thanks for posting the Oxfam report which is dated 2013. So this only uses historical data from 2012/13 – that is about half way through the Coalition

    There is the IFS annual report on poverty and inequality for 2016 – using 2014/15 data – the end of the coalition at https://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/comms/R117.pdf and via https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8371

    It finds that ” In fact, the absolute poverty rate was lower (although not statistically significantly so) in 2014–15 than in ANY previous year.” (my emphasis)

    And “The Gini coefficient [that measures inequality] was 0.34, compared with 0.36 in
    2007–08.”

    Now I am not saying that 2010-15 was a land of milk and honey – Labour of which Corbyn was a part – had left a yearly deficit of £100 billion. And any Government of any colour would have had to decrease that substantially and that by definition leads to pain.

    And I was not and am not satisfied with a Government that was 80% Tory.

    Two policies from our 20% was to increase the personal tax allowance which substantially increases the take-home pay of lower earners. Cameron was vehemently against this during the 2010 election. And the pupil premium which may not show up directly but meant that more money went to schools with poorer pupils.

  • John Marriott 28th Jan '18 - 8:43pm

    Many good, perceptive and sensible comments. Has anyone actually thought that this might be how the Lib Dems are likely to remain, namely on the fringes of politics, as Liberal parties tend to be elsewhere?
    Unless the voting system is changed it will take massive disillusionment with Tories and Labour, as appeared to be happening in the 1980s, for there to be any room for a third party to make significant inroads at national level. I also wonder whether, aside from those who find politics fascinating, most people are just not that interested, having other priorities, like trying to keep their heads above water financially, while some are doing quite nicely, thank you.

  • @chris moore

    “I don’t support the abolition of tuition fees.

    Students need to be supported when they are poor. And need to pay back when they are rich. That is progressive.”

    The current system is a graduate tax in all but name. You pay back a percentage of your income after a certain amount when earning.

    It is perhaps a pity that we didn’t brand it better if we were going to do it. Abolish fees and introduce a graduate tax.

    You could have tuition fees for A-levels and other post-16 qualifications. Those that get them earn more.

    But I would abolish tuition fees. And replace the current graduate tax with an increase in National Insurance and also abolish the cap on National Insurance. Those that do earn more (and it is not everyone) because of their degree will pay more.

    The argument is that degrees and other post-18 qualifications are increasingly the same as A-levels etc. were 30-60 years ago.

    I would also introduce an individual fund that people can draw on to fund post-18 education etc. during their lifetime.

  • I would like to see the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) brought back as this incentivises young people ton continue in education/FE, could never understand why it was scrapped.

  • Trevor Stables 28th Jan '18 - 9:11pm

    Just on more thought on French Healthcare

    If you are on a lowish income everything is covered including prescriptions. Long term illnesses and cancer covered for everyone 100%.. people pay contributions through their jobs like NI.

    No reason why this system couldn’t work very well.

    They have a much more patient orientated system. A Liberal system that works very well and unquestioned by
    Left, Centre and Right.

  • Neil Sandison 28th Jan '18 - 9:18pm

    What the Liberal Democrats need to do is put some fresh thinking forward the proposal on life long learning accounts is good ,The sensible funding of health and social care by new investment through the tax system ,support votes for 16 to 18 year olds in local elections to encourage local participation .Challenge the government on how they are going to develop electric car technology without a sustainable modern electricity grid that connects to the growing decentralised energy production .A national water grid that reduces flooding in the wrong places and ensures we have water in our river and canals in the right places .Severn Trent had some really interesting proposals backed by nature conservationist but not supported by the other water companies There should be a statutory duty to co-operate .We must not become a single issue party over Brexit but argue for a broader coalition .Labour are not the only game in town.

  • Phil – I used to get £20 a week to go to the pub with on ema. I knew people whose parents were extremely rich but because they were self employed, they were able to get the full amount of ema and the bonuses. The ema as it was, was a mess, so that’s why it was scrapped.

    I’d be interested in bringing it back to an extent, but aside from the weird loopholes allowing wealthy people to get it, i’d like there to be some honesty about what it was actually for – hysterical complaints when it was scrapped about people not being able to stay on because they could no longer afford textbooks was just nonsense – no a-level student is required to buy hundreds of pounds worth of textbooks.

  • Phil at 9.08pm – scrapping of EMA was announced some time during the last Labour government. It was a very fine notion, but (so I read at the time) it just wasn’t producing anything like the expected impact for its costs. A rare case of policy making driven by outcomes rather than by the question “I know it doesn’t work in practice, but does it work in theory?”

    If only we could get them to take the same approach to the bedroom tax…

  • paul holmes 28th Jan '18 - 9:53pm

    John Rentoul made some good points in his article -some of which Caron refers to and some of which she doesn’t.

    So we have the fact that the Lib Dems, now the ‘Fourth Party’ in Parliament get much less coverage as a result. Vince no longer has the 2 questions at PMQ’s every week as those go to the SNP and the same principle cascades down through every Parliamentary debate, and every Q Time/Any Questions panel and all. Also his point that “..there is the long poisonous legacy of the coalition…”

    What Caron didn’t mention was his answer to the question ‘why doesn’t the Party’s clear opposition to Brexit translate to higher support?’ After all we have flat lined at around 7-8% for seven years now. His view “…A large part of the answer is probably that few normal people care about Brexit to the exclusion of all else…” So whilst more may now say they would like a new referendum on the terms of Brexit that does not mean they would cast their vote in Local or General elections purely on that issue. Clearly the 48% of Remainers did not switch, even fractionally to us in June 2017 when we got an even worse share of the vote than in 2015. Ironically, Leave voters on the other hand have been willing to switch on that single issue alone and that has included some who used to vote Lib Dem.

    Where Rentoul was completely wrong was in his argument that the “ephemeral group of supporters that always clusters around anything new” voted for us in 1983 (25.5%) and in 2010 (23% of the vote) but not when we were in what he calls the centre ground wilderness, for 28 years between 1983 and 2010 and not in 2017 when it ‘clustered around Corbyn.’ That rather seems to ignore the fact that we averaged a fairly constant 20% across the General Elections of that period and that in 2005 we took 22% of the vote and 62 MP’s compared to 23% and 57 MP’s in 2010. That very steady -not ephemeral – level of support over 3 decades was trashed overnight by the events of 2010-2015.

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Jan '18 - 9:54pm

    Fiona, it will be good to involve new members more, whether in local or more central discussion groups, such as Launchpad sounds likely to be. However, it would also be good if proposals worked up in LDV, such as those recently on ending child poverty or on EU reform , or the useful idea here of Trevor Stables about learning from French healthcare, could be the foundation of new party policies. Could LDV editors please request party policy-makers to read and comment themselves on certain threads? (such as Catherine Bearder on EU reform for example). LDV independence is great, but the thinking here is often wasted, and some of the editors are themselves on Federal Board or FPC and have the connections they might like to utilise from time to time.

    One comment here made me groan, however. Sorry, David Mills, but to say we need as Leader ‘a clever young person with charisma, vision, energy, passion and selflessness’ is such a cop-out. We shouldn’t just look to a leader. We are a collective of people with strong commitment to working together to help the country, Europe and even the world do better, and we have the humanity, intelligence, ideas, and energy and passion enough to go forward and achieve much.

  • To be factually correct on the EMA – it was scrapped in England by the Coalition and as a devolved matter still exists in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It was means tested in bands.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_Maintenance_Allowance

    The school leaving age has effectively been raised since from 16 to 18 in that you have to be in education, training or work below 18. When it was running there was data I saw that the Government made a “return” on it – getting more money back in taxes from more staying on in education and getting better qualifications, earning more and ultimately paying more back in taxes – but it wasn’t a great amount.

  • “We are a collective of people with strong commitment to working together to help the country, Europe and even the world do better, and we have the humanity, intelligence, ideas, and energy and passion enough to go forward and achieve much.”

    Oh dear! It seems that such energy and passion does not go down that well with voters.

    Reading through all the posts, I am not at all sure of the LibDems position on anything except Brexit. For the life of me, I don’t understand the opposition to a coalition government. For the LibDems, (and I am a member) it is the only way to have any kind of power. If we do not advocate some kind of coalition, why would any centre leaning voter turn to us.

    As someone who has lived in Germany and the Netherlands for the last 40 years, I look on the UK with a mixture of pity and amazement at how inept various governments have been over the years.

  • Peter Watson 28th Jan '18 - 10:26pm

    @Michael “Two policies from our 20% was to increase the personal tax allowance which substantially increases the take-home pay of lower earners. Cameron was vehemently against this during the 2010 election. And the pupil premium which may not show up directly but meant that more money went to schools with poorer pupils.”
    Cameron was not “vehemently against this”. He said, “I would love to take everyone out of their first £10,000 of income tax, Nick. It’s a beautiful idea, it’s a lovely idea – we cannot afford it.” So the question is, how was it afforded? What coalition cuts or lack of investments were Lib Dem choices to afford it?
    And the Pupil Premium was in the Tory (and Labour) manifesto.

  • Many interesting comments here, mostly focussing on past events and past policies/possible future policies. However, in my opinion one of the main reasons for the opinion polls not moving up is the average person who is contacted by a polling organisation will not back a party that they think has left the field of play. Voters remember the Lib Dem near wipe out in 2015 GE and are often reminded of this by the media. Floating voters will consider voting Lib Dem in greater numbers if the party is perceived to be back in the field of play and have some chance of winning.

  • @Peter Watson

    Your quote seems to indicate that Cameron was against the personal allowance increase. There can be an argument about taxes, expenditure etc. and what funds what. Arguably it kept borrowing higher than it would have been otherwise especially under a Conservative only Government which was probably no bad thing. It also helped give the economy a boost – which helps increase tax generally.

    It also helps decrease inequality as it boosts the take home pay of those near the bottom of the earnings scale the most in percentage terms.

    On the pupil premium – Labour has a passing reference to it in their 2010 manifesto – it doesn’t make it into their “50 steps for a future fair for all.” and there is no money attached to it. Equally the Tories dd not attach any money for it.

    There MIGHT have been some miserly amount for it under a Tory only or Labour Government.

    We promised £2.5 billion for it and we delivered £2.5 billion. We made it a centrepiece of our 2010 manifesto – putting it on the front cover.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Jan '18 - 11:46pm

    Katharine

    Yet another wonderful piece from you, you should be employed as morale boost at HQ !

  • Peter Farrell-Vinay 28th Jan '18 - 11:53pm

    We’re not yet done with our soul-searching. Theakes is right.

    What are we to offer the Just About Managing? May was right to focus on them, but as in so much else she failed.

  • It is interesting to note that we lost our third party place in 2015, which we had held since 1922. We need to get it back at the next general election so that we regain the speaking rights we lost in 2015 and we also get improved media coverage.

    If we can gain a net increase of 12 seats and the SNP have net losses of 12 seats it can be done. But it can only be done if we are seen as a credible opposition to the Conservatives. It will not be done if we are only seen as the anti-Brexit Party or after Brexit as the re-join an unreformed EU on worse terms than we had when we left Party.

  • Peter Watson 29th Jan '18 - 12:58am

    @Michael
    That Cameron “would love” to increase the personal tax allowance and that the Tories wanted a pupil premium which would “attract extra funding” means that the Lib Dems in Coalition were at best pushing against an open door in implementing those things. They were not policies which went against the grain of an 80% Tory coalition, which is why it was easy for Cameron, Osborne and Gove to take the credit, and why it should not have been a surprise that Lib Dems looked like an 80% Tory party when they failed to distinguish themselves from their coalition partners. It might be better to highlight the policy successes that were more obviously fought for.

    And on the Pupil Premium, I am not sure that the claim “We promised £2.5 billion for it and we delivered £2.5 billion.” stands up. The manifesto promised £2.5 billion in 2011-12 rising to over £2.6 billion in 2014-15, but I believe that was delivered was £600 million in 2011-12 rising to £2.4 billion in 2014-15 (http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06700/SN06700.pdf). And some research has suggested that this was not all extra money with the National Audit Office estimating that “per-pupil funding in 16% of the most disadvantaged secondary schools fell by over 5% in real terms between 2010-11 and 2014-15.” (https://www.nao.org.uk/report/funding-for-disadvantaged-pupils/)

  • David Evans 29th Jan '18 - 1:33am

    Although this article represents, at last, an acceptance by LDV of the true depths the party are in electorally, and goes some way to acknowledging that we will need to make some profound changes to even start to turn things around, there is still a long, long way to go. What many need to realise and accept is that the failure to rein in the Conservatives’ excesses in so many ways in coalition totally tarnished the party’s image with the Centre and Left across the entire country, and it led to so many good Lib Dems on the centre left of the party leaving in dismay and disgust during the coalition years. Perhaps the resignation of Stephen Knight (Deputy leader of the Lib Dems when we controlled Richmond on Thames council up to 2010 that provided the bedrock for Sarah Olney’s by election victory in 2016) and a thoroughly decent man, has at last made people realise that the game is up for denial.

    We have to understand that the years in coalition were a disaster for the party and its values, and that clinging to a short list of what was wrong (most of which was fundamental to so many of the electorate), while going OTT emphasising the good bits (which for so many did not even remotely offset the bad), will not change things one iota.

    The simple fact is that in 2010, 23% of the electorate trusted us with their vote – a party of ability, foresight, a social conscience and of ‘an end to broken promises’, and within less than a year we had broken our biggest promise, and were voting for cuts in benefits and services for the poor like a bunch of true Tories. People lost trust for us early and we reinforced that view throughout the five years. To an extent that has faded, but only to be overtaken by people ignoring us as being of no consequence.

    Now for many years, I have been saying that we had to own up for the bad things we supported in coalition, otherwise the public would never accept any attempt by us to own the good bits, but sadly so many would not even discuss it. For a short while it seemed that the Referendum campaign and its aftermath might just give us a way into people’s hearts without it, but that chance was crushed in the 2017 General Election. We are back to being a very minor player with only one distinct policy of any real importance to people, and that policy will disappear on 29 March 2019.

    We have to change massively and change now. In a few months it will be too late.

  • We can’t get round the fact that we had 23% of the vote in 2010 and now are on about 7%. We had over 16% of the vote from 1992 to 2010.

    @ David Evans

    We have longer than a few months to change our priorities and have policies to achieve them. Even by 29th March 2019 there will be some time before a general election. If the Transitional Phrase to leave the EU ends on 31st December 2020 then the earliest a general election should be is the spring of 2021 and maybe May 2021. That gives us three years and the Federal Policy Committee two years to setup the required policy working groups.

  • David Evans 29th Jan '18 - 4:15am

    Michael BG – I’m sorry to put it so bluntly, but if we haven’t made a real impact by Brexit day, the one reason people and the media have to notice us will have gone. Then we will be of no consequence.

    The one consistent theme I have seen over the last 6 years is that there are always loads of people who want to pretend we have a lot of time to do the one thing they believe we need to do (usually doing the one thing Liberals love most of all – developing theoretical policies most people pay no attention to).

    After Brexit the media will have no reason to pay any attention to us at all, and people will go back to ignoring us. A few local heroes and heroines will fly the flag and win through to their local council, but the only chance of getting any national publicity then will be winning a HoC by-election, and there are very few of those that are winnable now, so the chance of it happening is very small.

    We have prevaricated for too long already. We have to act quickly and decisively now.

  • Alex Macfie 29th Jan '18 - 7:17am

    Catherine Jane Crosland: “[Corbyn] has always made it perfectly clear that he believes the referendum result must be respected.” Well, presumably he also believes that the general election result “must be respected”. This perhaps explains his lack of effective opposition to the government. Since the Tory-DUP government was democratically elected, obviously we all have to support everything it does and opposing it is anti-democratic.
    That’s the logical conclusion of this “the referendum result must be respected” idea. And perhaps it’s not far off from Corbynista thinking. the idea that once a vote has been done, everyone has to get behind the outcome and no-one is allowed to challenge it is textbook Leninist democratic centralism. What it is not, is democracy, in which any democratic decision can be challenged *at any time*.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 29th Jan '18 - 8:19am

    Alex, I think we’ve had this conversation several times about the differences, and similarities, between respecting a referendum result and respecting a general election result.
    Respecting a general election result means accepting that the newly elected MPs should be allowed to take their seats, and that the Party with the largest number of seats should be allowed to form a government (or try to form a government, if it does not have an overall majority), until the next general election. Hardly anyone, I hope, would question that a general election result should be implemented in this way. But it does not, of course, mean that the opposition parties should not oppose the specific policies of the government – indeed, it is their responsibility to oppose.
    A referendum is very different. A referendum means letting the public decide on a specific issue. Respecting the referendum result means implementing the decision the public has made. After it has been implemented, it may, of course, later be reversed by another referendum. But it must be implemented.
    An opposition party has the right, indeed duty, to oppose the policies of the party in power. It does not have a right or duty to oppose the implementing of a referendum result, as this is a policy that has been decided, not by the government, but by the public.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 29th Jan '18 - 8:34am

    By the way, my comments about Corbyn were not intended to indicate support for Corbyn. Actually I feel very worried at the prospect of Corbyn as Prime Minister – although I feel that it is very likely that he will be Prime Minister in 2022, if not before.
    I was just trying to suggest why it is that people are excited by Corbyn’s policies, but not by ours. Corbyn is seen as representing change, whereas we, unfortunately, are seen as just wanting to keep the status quo.

  • @Peter Watson

    On the personal allowance, it is clear that if we take Cameron’s word, the Tories would not have implemented it.

    On the pupil premium – we delivered it – not quite as quickly as we hoped. On the NAO report it finds “We estimate that, between 2010-11 and 2014-15,
    per-pupil funding in the most disadvantaged secondary schools increased by 5.1%,” and “21% of these schools experienced an increase of more than 10%.”

    And overall NAO says it “has the potential to bring about a significant improvement in outcomes.”

    This thread started with criticism of the coalition on those that were poorer. The increase in personal allowance significantly helped lower earners. The pupil premium would not have been implemented at anything like the same scale by Labour or the Tories. It is particularly important given they lower attainment of disadvantaged pupils and the potential of education to lift people out of poverty.

    While we don’t get much credit we should be proud of these policies at a difficult time when Labour left the public finances in the red by £100 billion a year.

    Perhaps a policy for the future is to double the pupil premium?

  • @Paul Holmes

    You are right to say that voters do not care about the EU per se. And this was a failure of the remain side and a success of the leave side.

    Brexit is costing public finances £300 million a week (OBR figures). Lets exit Brexit and fund the NHS instead!

    It is also hitting people’s living standards with higher inflation, lower growth, and falling real wages.

    It is always tempting to think the grass is greener on the other side of the hedge! With Brexit this is not the case.

    Opinion polls do not move much on a weekly or monthly basis unless there are events to move them – elections, big political events.

    Trends also emerge over time but it is difficult to discern them on a daily basis. At a guess Brexit is one – and a movement towards Remain. And also better public services and an increased willingness to fund that.

    Good local election results could begin to move the opinion polls in our direction.

  • John Marriott 29th Jan '18 - 9:37am

    David Evans states that the years in coalition “were a disaster for our party and its values”. Well, that’s probably the best that ‘Liberal’ parties can hope for. (The Liberal parties in Canada and Australia, not forgetting the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, are very different animals.) As I said in my previous post, which people appear to have ignored, to be a true Liberal requires a mind set that the majority of people do not possess. We are the ones who ask the awkward sometimes embarrassing questions. As the late Robert Kennedy famously put it; “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”
    People have often been prepared to ‘lend’ us their vote particularly at local elections and, between 1983 and 2015, in national elections as well; but peel back that vote and you end up with a core vote very similar to what the Lib Dems currently have. It would appear that, with the apparent return of ‘Two Party Politics’, that period of ‘lending’ is over.
    Finally, as far as the 2010-2015 coalition is concerned, I wish to goodness we had it now instead of the shambles that claims to be a ‘strong and stable government”! As someone who spent 30 years as a councillor at all levels of local government at one time or another, I can tell Mr Evans that sometimes you have to leave your ego outside the door when tough and often unpopular decisions have to be made.

  • Catherine – individuals can be intelligent, ‘the public’ on the whole, are complete idiots.

    With regards to the referendum result, its clear that people were voting with all sorts of different ideas about what Brexit would actually mean, and its even more clear that advocates of leave did not and still don’t have any plan for how leaving the EU would/will actually work.

    The result was very close and evidently many of the key leave claims were flat out lies – so its not unreasonable in the slightest to continue to oppose leaving the EU. Its in my view – and many others – absolutely the most short-sighted and stupidest decision this country has ever made.

    However; George – “and it becomes clear the public want another say, shouldn’t they be given one?” – its not yet apparent this is actually the case.

    There are big problems in continued opposition to Brexit being seen by many as simply wanting to reverse the decision because we didn’t like the outcome; an outcome largely caused by a remain campaign that completely misjudged the issue and has yet to really show in my view that its learnt much at all from that misjudgement. Catherine is right to say that our stance on the EU could be considered the status quo.

    As somebody else alluded to a bit further up about our vote generally – whilst our opposition to Brexit is clear, with a small party and such limited political influence now, is a vote for us really a credible way to stop Brexit? Arguably, it’s not clear that it is – so why should the remain vote flock to us en-masse?

  • Neil Sandison 29th Jan '18 - 10:54am

    The old adage that you are only as good as your last campaign rings true .We must get over this retrospective navel gazing on what did or might have happened who did what and to who, and recognise no one owes us a vote ,a council seat ,or an MP. Knuckle down and come up with a new agenda that reflects our social liberal values and build on what may be the need for a viable platform possible as early as June 2019 should caretaker Theresa decide to cut and run again. Note she put most of her new intake of potential ministers in the the Conservatives back offices this should be ringing alarm bells.

  • Just to point out that the “Liberal” party of Australia is not actually a liberal party, in the sense that it is not a member of Liberal International. It is actually a sister party of the Tories (and gave us Lynton Crosby). Australians always clearly distinguish ‘small-L liberalism’ from the politics of their Liberal Party in their political discourse. Nor is Japan’s LDP a member of Liberal International. As far as I can see it has no international affiliations at all, and is best considered as one of those parties that exists only for the sake of staying in power.

  • Michael Meadowcroft 29th Jan '18 - 12:35pm

    1. Not at all surprising we are stuck at 7%. We have no presence whatever in a majority of constituencies. Targeting has killed off the party. At the last election, in 60% of seats, less than five voters in a hundred voted Liberal Democrat. No campaigning, no literature, no presence, just the £500 deposit donated to the Treasury. Given this, however good the policies nationally, whatever the anti-Brexit appeal, why should it even enter the minds of a large majority of voters to say “Liberal Democrat” to a pollster?

    2. The emphasis on policy has only a superficial appeal if there is no understanding of why we hold a policy, however good it is. If we do not have a cadre of members who understand what the basis of Liberalism is, and who are committed to go from constituency to constituency explaining this – and thus expanding that cadre – the whole policy edifice is simply built on sand. The crucial basis for the party is for its members to be able to say “I am a Liberal” and to explain it to others. Then policies can be added.

    Liberals are not Liberals because they are pro-European unity, they are pro-European unity because they are Liberals and Liberals are internationalist. They were not Liberals because they opposed the Iraq invasion but rather they opposed the war because they were Liberals and therefore supporters of international law. They are not Liberals because they oppose identity cards but oppose ID cards because they know fundamentally that being a Liberal means supporting civil liberties and not giving the state the means of possessing a data base on every citizen. And so on with all key issues.

    I have been promoting Liberalism for sixty years and have battled on after setbacks such as 1970 and 1979 and other years, as an organiser, an HQ officer, a councillor and as an MP, and the only way to recover is to have confidence in fundamental Liberal values and in the vital importance of a Liberal society and to go constituency by constituency promoting the key philosophic basis for the party. There is no shortcut nor silver bullet for electoral success, but revival is possible and can be achieved incrementally by the exercise of intellectual rigour and passionate advocacy.

  • Peter Hirst 29th Jan '18 - 1:24pm

    I agree with the analysis but not the solution. We need to accept that we cannot drive the agenda. What we must do is predict the narrative, especially as we approach Brexit and make ourselves relevant to it. We have the advantage of flexibility and unity so let’s get ahead of the game, as it is driven by today’s media.

  • Alex Macfie 29th Jan '18 - 1:34pm

    Catherine Jane Crosland: The public can change their minds. And referendum or no referendum, what we have is a representative democracy, of which a fundamental principle of democracy is that no vote can bind representatives in any future vote. Direct democracy and representative democracy do not mix very well, but the same principle can be applied there. Suppose that we had a direct democracy, and Leave won an EU referendum. Then suppose that a year and a bit afterwards, before we’d finally left the EU, Remain campaigners successfully tabled a new referendum, and won it. It would be the second referendum that would be binding, and nothing about the first referendum would say that the decision had to be implemented before any new one had to be taken.
    Regarding whether anyone has any “right” or “duty to oppose implementing a referendum, well I think you’re simply wrong. There is nothing inherent in a vote taken on one day that means that campaigners and elected representaticves should not be allowed to challenge it. If there is a public clamour for the Brexit process to be stopped before it is finished, are the people to be branded “anti-democratic” for seeking to sabotage the will of the, er, people? Your implication is that challenging a decision is to be forbidden, and that representative must agree to be bound by the outcome of one vote, and this vote matters above all else. this is what makes the argument that we must “respect the referendum” anti-democratic. It ignores that fact that democratic decisions, however made, can and should be challenged any time.

    While I don’t much like talk of electoral “mandates”, because it isn’t really compatible with representative democracy, I would posit that if there was an election soon and a party came to power having promised to halt the Brexit process, regardless of the referendum result, then its victory could reasonably be taken as a mandate that would over-ride that earlier referendum. You, however, are suggesting that the “mandate” from the referendum is so sacrosanct that any talk of challenge should not be allowed. No such mandate is acceptable in a democracy.

  • @ David Evans

    If you are correct then we are doomed. We are not the Conservative Party where the leader can make an announcement of what the party policy is. We have processes which take time. Our leader should not make up policy on the hoof, he should be campaigning on our policies.

    You are correct we need some good by-election results like we had before the 2017 general election. This would increase our opinion poll ratings as it did then. Then when the general election comes we need to have policies which mean people will vote for us again. Policies tell the public where the Party stands. Why would anyone vote for us if we had no policies. It is vital we have policies which distance us from the Conservatives.

    @ Michael

    I supported increasing the Income Tax Personal Allowance because it is the best way to cut Income Tax, but it does not benefit the poorest the most. Everyone gets the same amount of extra income if they are in work and if they earn enough. The poorest – those not in work or who don’t earn enough are no better off. This is why increasing benefits was also needed but we failed to get the Coalition government to do this.

    I think I read in one of the links posted by Peter Watson that it will not be until 2023 that we will know if the Pupil Premium will have worked, but by then it will not be linked to free school meals. And who will remember that it was our idea to fund it at the 2015 levels?

  • chris moore 29th Jan '18 - 2:23pm

    @Michael: yes, I’m aware that tuition fees, apart from in name, work like a graduate tax.
    For our own electoral ends, it would be better to go for total abolition; that’s for sure!

    @David Raw: the Lib Dems were able to bring in policies – raising the tax threshold and the poorpupil premium- that transferred resources to the poorer off. This is undeniable. We could never have done this if we hadn’t been in the Coalition. It’s unlikely that either of us will ever see a majority Lib Dem government. If we aren’t prepared for the compromises and blunders of governemnt, we remain mere spectators cherishing our politically correct sentiments.

    Might I suggest you look beyond the UK? For example, to Spain, where I live. The economic crisis here and austerity were managed with much more heartlessness by the majority conservative government. In fact, economic crisis and worldwide technological change have caused increased inequality in many countries. As Michael has rightly pointed out, the Gini coeffcient in the Coalition years actually improved.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Jan '18 - 2:25pm

    Catherine Jane

    As ever you get to the nub of it and express it in ways I can relate to. The thread on another issue has my comments saying similar, Corbyn offers hope, not fear, change not despair. This is the perceived offering, ours, to vote for us to avoid Brexit, has none of the resonance. My question here to you Catherine, and really you can show some here more than many as you are no rightwinger, what is or are they many, your main concern and worry re Corbyn becoming pm?

    Michael Meadowcroft

    Rarely has a post been written by a more definite example of the Liberal values we need. But all who know you, or your work, must ask, if the journey you are explaining is as possible in an age of no loyalty in party politics, when the SNP are the third party in parliament, when the coalition means we as a party are written off by many, or criticised by very many more ?

  • paul holmes 29th Jan '18 - 2:37pm

    @Michael/9.27am No, in fact I did not say that the voters don’t care about the EU per se. Neither did John Rentoul in the article he wrote and which Caron started this thread off with.

    The point being made is that most of the 48% who voted Remain, or most of the increasing % who say they would agree with holding a Referendum on the terms of Brexit, would not make this the principal factor in which Party they will vote for in say this May’s Council elections or in the next General Election when it arrives. A similar example might be that among the 70% plus of the population who regularly tell Pollsters that they oppose hunting with hounds there are still many who none the less vote Conservative and will not change their vote because of just one issue.

    In a Referendum people have a clear simple choice such as ‘Should we stay in the EU or Leave it?’ or ‘Should Scotland be Independent or remain part of the UK?’ In a ‘normal’ election people vote on a wider package of policies, party image, traditional voting patterns and so on. Clearly in June 2017 the EU Remainers did not flock to the Remain Parties since both the Lib Dems and the SNP lost ground. Ironically Leave voters do though seem more likely to change Party allegiance on that one issue alone.

    I voted Remain in 1975 and in 2016 but I do believe that our Party has boxed itself into a very dangerous corner by allowing itself to be perceived as a single issue anti Brexit Party. That will become even more dangerous to our electoral survival if we persist in majoring on that one issue even after March 2019. The collapse of single issue UKIP once the issue has moved on should be a warning to a Lib Dem Party already put into Intensive Care by the events of 2010-2015.

  • chris moore 29th Jan '18 - 2:52pm

    I strongly agree, Paul.

    The only thing most voters know about us is that we’re against Brexit (and, of course, did a U_turn on tuition fees.)

    They’re unaware of our other policies. We seem detached from more everyday concerns.

  • Tony Dawson 29th Jan '18 - 3:42pm

    Start winning local elections. Stand up for local people. Stop faffing around in irrelevances. Simples! 😉

  • paul barker 29th Jan '18 - 3:51pm

    Since we are all moaning today, can I suggest that some of the commentors start their own Blogs ? If you cant say what you want in less than 300 words then post an article on LDV, they are always asking us to do that.
    Sorry for the grumps.
    We actually have good prospects for May; as long as theres no General Election.
    If we are known for opposing Brexit thats great, Voters only have room in their heads for one Policy each for minor Parties. Even Labour & Tories get 2 or 3 if they are lucky.
    We dont know whats happening, no-one does, all we can do is keep on keeping on.

  • paul holmes 29th Jan '18 - 3:55pm

    @Michael Meadowcroft. As, when I had the pleasure of meeting you at the event you spoke at in Derbyshire last autumn, I agree with much of what you say but think you are entirely wrong in your comments on Targeting.

    Targeting worked brilliantly not just in 1997 when despite a small drop to 17% of the national vote we more than doubled our number of MP’s to the highest level since the 1920’s. For 2001 and 2005 the Target pool was expanded and in each election we gained new record numbers of MP’s culminating in 62 MP’s and 22% of the vote in 2005. In 2010 we started by Targeting a little over 90 seats -the highest number yet.

    The increase in numbers of seats Targeted from 1997-2010 can only negate the claim that Targeting hollowed out the Party every where outside the Targets. If that was true then we would have stuck pretty much at the 1997 level. Not only that we also saw increased numbers of AM’s, MSP’s, MEP’s elected plus more Councils controlled than ever before -including major Northern Cities outside the traditional areas of the 1970’s/80’s. 2005 also saw us gain 11 seats from Labour -absolutely unheard of previously when gains from Labour, in General Elections, such as yours in 1983 or mine in 2001 were highly unusual. All of that shows increasing levels of activity across the board but most importantly with record electoral success not just flag flying.

    In 2010 however the initial Target strategy ran out of control after the very brief ‘Cleggmania’ following the first TV debate. Whilst the second and third debates where more lacklustre and opinion polls dropped back to a more normal level, enthusiasts ran away with the idea we could win everywhere. We even had the Leaders tour visiting seats as low as 140 or so on the winnability list. We ended up with a net loss of 5 seats despite seeing our vote share increase slightly from 22% in 2005 to 23% in 2010. That campaign simply emphasised the need for proper Targeting not for abandoning it.

    The hollowing out of our Party came with the collapse of 2010-2015 not because of the proven success and growth that took place between 1997-2009.

  • @Paul Holmes

    For many, the issue on the EU was decided on bread and butter issues.

    Will the NHS get more funding? Are foreigners coming here and taking my job, my council house and clogging up my hospital?

    As I said it is now clear that Brexit actually costs £300 million a week. And is hitting people in the wallet.

    Brexit is not therefore a single issue but affects many more as it affects our financial situation.

    Now it is important not to just “bang on” about Brexit. Or indeed say everything bad is down to Brexit or can be cured by remaining. But it is important as an issue in itself. Yougov on name the 3 most important issues facing the country has “leaving the EU” on 60%, health on 48%, immigration and asylum on 31%, and the economy on 30%. So, it would be wrong not to address the most important issue on voters minds. But it would be wrong also not to address other issues (many of which also have a Brexit context).

  • Paul Barker:
    If we do not win in Falmouth this week then the prospects for May remain very questionable.

  • @Peter Watson @chris moore
    “I’m aware that tuition fees, apart from in name, work like a graduate tax.”

    I would agree with Peter that there are very fundamental differences between the current situation and a graduate tax and it would be a mistake to spin it as the same. I also think that it is very dangerous to link taxation to a specific societal benefit. I could make the argument that school leavers not achieving 5 x a-c grades at gcse are more likely to receive housing and other benefits so should pay an increased tax rate. I hope the party will think long and hard about it’s future policy on higher education. We cannot afford to get it wrong again. (KISS) There is a lot to be said for the current system. The problem is that tuition fees are too high, do not represent value for money and the market lacks regulation. Also the 6% interest is scandalous. I believe there is a review of education due out shortly. Could be critical.

  • David Evans 29th Jan '18 - 5:00pm

    John Marriott, your response to my post is the most depressing, defeatist attitude I can imagine a Liberal holding. Saying that “a disaster for our party and its values” is probably “the best that ‘Liberal’ parties can hope for,” truly is a philosophy of despair.

    You seem to want to imply that Liberals are somehow enormously superior to other people in looking at issues and because of that they fail. Failure is not a virtue, but you almost wear it as a badge of honour.

    I think if Robert Kennedy was “dreaming of things that never were, and asking why not,” the very first thing he would ask is ‘Why did the Liberal Democrats not succeed when they got their big chance?’ and perhaps second, why do they accept failure?

    I suggest you do the same.

  • John Marriott 29th Jan '18 - 5:19pm

    David Evans,
    Not superior, just different. Not despair, just realism. Let’s hope for your sake I’m proved wrong, as you appear to care more than you think I do. Oh, that ‘disaster’ to which you refer was your description not mine. For my sins, I thought that what the coalition government did achieve was not all bad.

  • Katerina Porter 29th Jan '18 - 6:17pm

    I would like to go back to just one of David Raw’s practical suggestions as a policy for us. Homelessness has gone up in part because because private rents have gone up/ housing benefit has not. There should be a concentration on building social housing without any right to buy.
    Thus the stock would be maintained and could be added to. This might put pressure on private landlords to be more reasonable/responsible. Some, as in the nineties, might decide to sell which could produce more “affordable” housing to buy.

  • chris moore 29th Jan '18 - 7:24pm

    @Peter Watson

    Hi Peter,

    you say “the wealthy and well-paid can avoid it”?

    Forgive me, but what can they avoid? Tuition fees? That they don’t have to take out a loan, doesn’t mean they don’t have to pay the fees.

    Graduate tax? Again not?

    Would you explain a little more clearly what you mean?

    The point I am trying to make is that both tuition fees and the graduate tax are progressive; in this sense they are similar. (Clearly not identical.)

    A principle of the well-off not benefitting from the welfare state more than the poorer off. Middle class voters support redistribution when it is redistribution to themselves. The idea that students, who later will be relatively rich compared to the general popoulation, should be paying for their education, is not regressive.

    There are other ways of making the richer off in society pay more. One poster mooted the idea of removing the cap on national insurance contributions. Yes, but that can happen anyway.

  • Peter Watson 29th Jan '18 - 8:07pm

    chris moore “the wealthy and well-paid can avoid [or minimise] it”?
    When it comes to repayment of the loan, the Coalition Government chose not to prevent early repayment, so a highly paid graduate with good prospects can choose to pay off the loan and reduce the overall cost (since the interest rate is greater than inflation then the debt would otherwise grow in real terms).
    Similarly, the MoneySavingExpert website showed that a student with good future earnings and the wealth to pay fees up front could save money by doing so.
    The progressiveness (is that a word?) of the scheme seems to be based upon the assumption that all students will follow the normal process of borrowing all the money as a student and repaying it gradually as a student for up to 30 years, but this not the best option for some of the most affluent students and graduates.

    In addition to the fees aspect there is also a maintenance loan. This is off the top of my head as I have not previously thought this bit through, but the scheme that the Coalition government inherited had an interest rate that was below inflation so the value of the loan did not increase in real terms. But now, with higher interest rates, exceeding inflation, poorer students who need the maintenance loan to live as a student might be more disadvantaged than under the old scheme when compared to their wealthier peers who can rely on the bank of mum and dad.

    Indeed, the complexity of these options and choices, betting what will happen for 30 years after graduating, is one of the ways that the current system differs from a more straightforward graduate tax!

  • Peter Watson 29th Jan '18 - 8:21pm

    Correction to my earlier post: obviously should have said “repaying it gradually as a graduate for up to 30 years” (though students who do not graduate would also have to repay it).
    Also, thinking about the maintenance loan aspect, because it is means tested, students from poorer families can borrow more at the outset, but since the loan grows in real terms (from day one under the new scheme) it looks like they are hit by a double whammy.

  • Peter Watson 29th Jan '18 - 8:29pm

    I wonder if the difference between a “graduate tax” and a “student loan” is also an important one when it comes to the Government balancing its books.
    The additional money going to universities after 2012 did not come from the students since they weren’t yet paying. It came from Government, but it did not trash the deficit, presumably because it was a loan and accounted for differently. It might not be as straightforward to hide the cost if it is to be recouped from future taxation.

  • John Marriott, actually I know you care enormously about the party and its values, but your willingness to adopt easy one line answers that don’t address the problem is very disturbing.

    The important bit is why don’t you think about the two questions, ‘Why did the Liberal Democrats not succeed when they got their big chance?’ and, ‘Why do you accept failure?’ There is an old saying in football (and I would expect in rugby too), if two teams go onto the pitch: one believing they will win and one believing they will lose – They will both be right.

    Do you really want Liberal Democracy to be a loser or are you prepared to consider we need to learn and change our attitude?

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Jan '18 - 11:02pm

    Wonderful to have Michael Meadowcroft writing here, reminding us of our values and purposes as Liberals. I find additional value in our being Liberal Democrats, a proud purpose. Lorenzo, thank you for your kind words about my small contribution! I do believe in our party and that it will rise again. There are many good comments and suggestions here, but David Evans will be amazed to find me agreeing with one of his! – ” We have to act quickly and decisively now.” I think that is right because this is a crucial year for the country, in which we shall gradually be more and more perceived to be correct about Brexit. Seeing our general unity of values and purposes, the public, aided by our local campaigning in the May elections, and becoming more and more aware of the disgrace of the present government and the shiftiness and disunity of the opposition, should begin to look more towards us.

    But the urgency to me is to give them more of a handle on what we stand for. We need, it seems to me, to work now at refining and focusing our policies. I have been looking through in the last Manifesto the section entitled, ‘Build an economy that works for you.’ It is full of so many worthy policies that the section didn’t work for me – it was simply indigestible. If this is what we have to offer in this vital year, in a vital policy area, then our leaders need to focus on the big picture we should put over, which will, I hope, correct the failings of the Coalition by concentrating on the needs of the poorest, and those of working families who are beset by the continuing rise in their living costs.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 30th Jan '18 - 8:16am

    Lorenzo, you asked what my reasons are for being very worried at the idea of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.
    Many reasons, but perhaps they can be summed up by the fact that I am afraid that Corbyn’s slogan “For the many not the few”, may turn out to have a sinister double meaning. It may be that he will do some things that benefit the majority. But don’t “the few” have rights too? I’m afraid a Corbyn government might not show much concern for the rights, freedoms and choices of individuals.

  • “For the Many not the Few” was first used in the 1910 General Election by Charles Trevelyan, Liberal M.P. for Elland. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    Only problem is, Charlie resigned as a junior Minister in 1914 in protest against the Liberal Government declaring war, and joined the Labour Party in 1919.

  • Jayne mansfield 30th Jan '18 - 9:03am

    @ Catherine Jane Crosland,
    I share your concerns.

    However, I don’t interpret ‘ For the many not the few’, in a sinister way. It is perfectly obvious to me what is meant by the phrase. Those of us who used secular reasoning switch effortlessly between a utilitarian approach,’ The greatest good for the greatest number’ to taking a deontological approach, ‘Respect for the dignity of individuals’ with ease, depending upon the context.

    I was impressed by Jeremy Corbyn’s firm support for an issue involving the rights of transgender people on Sunday’s Marr show, framing the question in terms of human rights. In doing so, he no doubt upset some of his long time friends and supporters who take a different view, one of whom was named by Marr.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 30th Jan ’18 – 8:16am…………..Many reasons, but perhaps they can be summed up by the fact that I am afraid that Corbyn’s slogan “For the many not the few”, may turn out to have a sinister double meaning…………

    All that from one short phrase?

    Now you’ve got me thinking..

    What about “Change Britain’s Future”…. If there is a sinister double meaning lurking somewhere then that is a prime candidate…. ‘Change’ to what? Change for the ‘Better’ or for the ‘Worse’?

  • @ Peter Watson

    Thanks Peter for the detailed explanation. I appreciate it and take your point.

    I certainly agree with you that in times when interest rates are so low, the interest rates charged on student loans are unfair. And that therefore there’s a benefit for those students who pay off quickly.

    So the solution would be to charge a market interest rate (capped at some modest %, in case interest rates go through the roof)

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Jan '18 - 1:10pm

    Catherine Jane

    A very thoughtful response , thank you. A varied answer from some,but not as thoughtful as with one exception , they are to blunt, or sarcastic.

    Catherine, as with the intelligent comment from Jayne, says what I feel on the sologan, not the substance though, as I can add to it.

    While I have no doubt David , as in David Raw, now adds the history, far back, it is the recent usage of the phrase that is pertinent.

    Some years ago under the New Labour leadership, those words were on my membership card. Corbyn, in ironic similarity has embraced that from Blair.

    I preferred and prefer my own adaptation, for each and everyone.

    I agree with Jayne. I empathise with Catherine.

    The strange ironic element as I say often now, the decency of the man Corbyn and the majority of the policy from Corbyn is way better than the few, I reckon, or the many , the media would say, are hanging around him and are in that party.

    It is only his associations, movements not in any way to my liking at all, international sympathies with causes not mine, that bother me. The few , who have come from the SWP, could be met head on by the many more akin to the SDP obviously the numbers are there!

    I believe we need to face that which David and I talk about. Should we do what compass argue for but are not succeeding in , join forces in an alliance?

    If a vast number of our party were in alliance, we would be more than a match for momentum, we would be like the Democrats in the States, Bernie plus, not Bernie or bust !

  • Peter Watson 30th Jan '18 - 4:58pm

    @chris moore “So the solution would be to …”
    Any solution that involves changing interest rates or the terms of repayment is acknowledging that it is a loan. And consequently there are a lot of elements that could be tweaked (apparently the government is considering raising the income threshold for repayment), reflecting the complexity of the system, so it is not immediately obvious what the implications of any changes would be for the student or for future governments.

    It has been reported that the possible level of defaulting on loans could make the current scheme more expensive for the taxpayer than the one it replaced, so any changes would have to consider that.

    And if students are not expected to pay off their loans it does not matter how high the interest rate is or even how big the loan is: it just leaves more to be written off after 30 years. If students are expected to pay it off, then the cost of the loan will reflect the amount borrowed (more by poorer students and those on longer courses) as well as future income, so it does not look especially progressive. But it’s even less straightforward than that since it is expected that some will and some won’t pay off the whole loan (though interest rates above inflation might mean they have still payed more than the real-terms value of the original sum borrowed).

    That complexity is a large part of why I do not think Lib Dems should attempt to pass the current scheme off as a graduate tax (not that a graduate tax is party policy anyway as far as I know): it just sounds like a dishonest way of avoiding the F-word (fees!).

  • EMAs were a huge success and designed to support young people to continue in further education in the same way that young people on apprenticeships are in vocational training. Having worked in the new universities I know from first hand experience many young people who progressed to Higher Education from the FE route where many students come from poorer backgrounds and disadvantaged communities.

  • Martin Peters 31st Jan '18 - 2:16pm

    I have just re-joined. I left during the coalition in 2012 having switched from Labour in 2008 after over 20 years. The party needs to be bold to attract attention. The drop from 23% to 7% is massive and deserves new radical thinking. The electoral system is absurd and is clearly against the party and the media are relatively uninterested. Soldiering on is not the answer. I would even consider a name or logo change eg back to the Social and Liberal Democrats or SLF. Also we must not be worried about agreeing with Labour on some policies. The party does best when it is a sensible liberal centre left alternative to Labour rather than in the middle.

  • I have just re-joined. I left during the coalition in 2012 having switched from Labour in 2008 after over 20 years. The party needs to be bold to attract attention. The drop from 23% to 7% is massive and deserves new radical thinking. The electoral system is absurd and is clearly against the party and the media are relatively uninterested. Soldiering on is not the answer. I would even consider a name or logo change eg back to the Social and Liberal Democrats or SLF. Also we must not be worried about agreeing with Labour on some policies. The party does best when it is a sensible liberal centre left alternative to Labour rather than in the middle.

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