Two things we learned from last night’s Question Time

Jo Swinson had the hardest job out of all the leaders on the BBC Question Time special last night.

First of all, the audience was stacked against her:

While all the leaders took some tough questioning, at least Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn had somewhere in the vicinity of a third of the audience backing them. For some reason UK audiences seem to like Nicola Sturgeon, but they don’t have to live with her chaotic government’s neglect of pubic services. Trust me, the grass is not greener up here.

The audience was never going to back Jo – but people watching would have seen a leader who was absolutely crystal clear about her position. And, uniquely, she was also prepared to admit where we and she had got it wrong in the past. Compare that to Corbyn’s failure to acknowledge that he had failed to tackle anti-semitism in his own party and Johnson’s failure to accept the consequences of the casual racism with which he peppers so much of his writing.

So it’s hardly surprising that much of the right and left wing press are using up their column inches attacking Jo instead of promoting their own candidate.

Jo was very clear that she was the Remain candidate on the ballot paper.

The first thing we learned last night, if we didn’t know it already, is that Labour is not a remain party. Jeremy Corbyn announced he would stay neutral on this deal that he’s going to negotiate. That is an astounding failure of leadership. By refusing to take a position, he lets everybody down.

The second thing we learned is that Jo Swinson shows grace, candour and passion under pressure. She has the hardest job last night and answered with kindness, empathy and clarity.  She made sure that she is the unequivocal voice of remain in this election.

Her performance will go down very well in the seats we hope to gain to deprive Boris Johnson of a majority. Don’t just take my word for it:

Diamonds are formed under pressure. Our Lib Dem diamond did us proud by going into that fire pit and handling the tough questioning much better than anyone else.

Let’s take her positive messages of stopping Brexit and making life a whole load easier for people by investing in childcare and mental health out on to the doorsteps this weekend. The first postal votes land at the beginning of next week so this is a crucial stage in the campaign.

I’m off into Edinburgh West. It’s Christine Jardine’s birthday tomorrow so we are having a huge Birthday Bash Action Weekend. If you’re in the city, come and join us.



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

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  • Linda Dickins 23rd Nov '19 - 8:54am

    Jo did really well… Assured and knowledgeable…. No blustering or hesistence

  • I am increasingly in despair about the BBC, having been a strong defender until fairly recently. Why should an audience reflect the number of MPs in the previous parliament? I thought that Jo did very well to keep her calm and poise in the face of such a hostile audience.

    Did the BBC offer tickets via local political parties in the Sheffield area? If so, then this really was a stitch up, unintentional or not.

  • Interesting that it was mostly Labour people who had a go at her, relentlessly, culminating in her explaining that she was not leading a socialist party but a liberal one, She got blamed for austerity when it is the previous Labour regime that caused it by misreading the economy and expecting an endless increase in gov revenue instead of a massive crash… she missed that rejoinder. Overall, not sure she gained many votes from the performance but did highlight the simmering hatred of Labour’s supporters for all things not Corbyn, who has now decided to be neutral on Brexit.

  • Jeremy Cunnington 23rd Nov '19 - 9:32am

    Couldn’t agree more, thought given the circumstances where the audience seemed to be dominated by local branches of Labour / momentum she did a remarkable job. Matt Forde was not alone in praising Jo, you had political commentators across the spectrum saying good things on twitter last night eg Lewis Goodall, Paul Brand, Jane Merrick and Matt Chorley of the Times. However I think the stand out remark was from the FT’s legal columnist David Allen Green when he said:

    “Glancing at other, more partisan commentators. But as a non-partisan, am more impressed with @joswinson than expected Did not defend indefensible, genuinely sought to answer questions. Is this not what people want in politicians?”

    Unfortunately with the agenda of the various news organisations and their journalists they will spin this as Lib Dems failing and Jo Swinson useless, so lets not cover them or if so cover them with derision.

  • Nicola is something different and while most of us don’t actually have to live under Nicola’s rule she will get a leyway others don’t. If people actually lived under her rule without the excuse of “It’s all Westmonsters fault” perhaps her reception would be much different.

  • Jo did very well – and I am surprised at the basis of the BBC’s weighting (although of course it does allow them to ignore BXP/UKIP, which I suspect is the explanation).

    Nevertheless the questioning particularly from remain voters highlighted weaknesses in our strategic choice for this campaign. Hopefully our campaign can adapt its approach to pivot towards our identified strengths.

  • Gwyn Williams 23rd Nov '19 - 9:40am

    I am not easily impressed but I was last night. Jo came across as competent, capable and able.

  • John Marriott 23rd Nov '19 - 10:06am

    It was an interesting format and got far more out of the ‘candidates’ than did the ITV fiasco the other night. The stand out ‘winner’ for me was Nicola Sturgeon. Regardless of what you might think of her politics, she is a formidable performer on the stump. Jo Swinson could learn a lot from her compatriot.

    As for the audience it was pretty clear that in its intentional or accidental composition it was as tough to win over as many Music Hall performers allegedly found the audience at the old Glasgow Empire Theatre. It all depends on your script, and Ms Swinson’s was clearly not geared for a northern audience most of whom were rooting for JC or Bozza. Ms Sturgeon’s script was no more simpatico than Jo’s, but she worked it far better, especially as quite a few Scots had clearly turned up. So where were the Lib Dem’s?

    I am sure, if this post actually does appear in this thread, that it won’t go down well with some LDV regulars, who prefer their politics to be debated at conference or on websites that echo their views. I have no criticism whatsoever of Jo Swinson’s intellect, idealism or indeed her bravery. I just think that the stance that she and the party appear to have taken regarding revoking Article 50 is not going to go down well with at least half of the adult population. I have argued for using Revoke as a kind of ‘time out’ to allow, in the spirit of the 2016 referendum, for a proper deal to be negotiated, which could be put in a final ‘Preferendum’ (as our old friend ‘Michael 1’ aptly christened it when I first floated the idea a while back) as one of three options (Deal/No Deal/Remain). That ought to produce a result which, with second preferences included, would likely pass the 50% barrier with a bit to spare. If Remain clearly comes out on top that’s ‘game set and match’. If either of the other options wins, then it’s back to revocation; but this time with an end in sight. Some people clearly won’t like it. It’s called compromise.

  • David Becket 23rd Nov '19 - 10:21am

    This was a car crash interview, even though the car crash was set up by the supposedly impartial BBC. We have learnt some lessons, which if we move quickly it may be possible to recover from.
    Let us put Revoke on the back burner. There is now no way Jo will become PM, and it just gives our opponents a very big stick.

    Let us stop shouting from the rooftops that we are the only Remain party. That is a well-known fact and makes us look a one trick party.

    Let us stop attacking others, particularly Labour. We need Labour votes in some areas, and they need ours. If Johnson is to be stopped that transfer has to happen.

    Let us stop shouting that we will not work with Johnson or Corbyn. People want to know what we will do, not what we wont.

    If Johnson wins a majority the country is in deep trouble, and there will be little we can do.

    If the parliament is hung we need to make it clear now that we will come in as a party of conciliation. We will support scrutiny of any proposed deal and then support putting the choice of that deal to the public with the option of Remain, for which we will campaign. If that means working with either Johnson or Corbyn then so be it.

    As for other support we will back any proposals that are close to our manifesto. Otherwise we will abstain unless we see the proposals as dangerous.

    This approach presents us as a party of reason, which is likely to boost our support.

  • Having read prior threads and some press I was concerned. Not anymore after watching Jo: she did extremely well in my opinion.

    Most importantly, no undecided remainer in Con/Lib marginals will be turned off by her performance. A measured stance on public finances, a solid dose of Corbyn-scepticism, and, unfortunately, support for Trident is what these voters need to hear.

    The voices in the audience that reject all austerity, ever, are anyhow out of Jo’s reach. The fact that remaining in the EU will eventually require some Lab-Lib collaboration is an unavoidable dilemma for which no winning language exists, so she had to dodge that topic, and did so very elegantly.

  • Jo had a hard time last night, having so few LibDem supporters in the audience was clearly unfair. In the circumstances she just about did OK. However, the questions were predictable and she could perhaps have been better prepared. They show that the actions of the coalition government are still fresh in peoples memories. After all it was only 4-years ago and the food banks and homeless people resulting from those policies are there for all to see. You will win some support for your brexit policy, but Jo’s voting record when she was in government looks like being a handicap in attracting Labour voters to your cause.

  • Not that I would ever justify the austerity package from the coalition government and how it affected me as a council tenant, but isn’t it worth the party boffins looking at Labour’s record on austerity when in government.

    The attacks on austerity and the coalition years are bound to come up time after time. Some of the MPs like Laws, Alexander, Browne etc who pushed through those policies so enthusiastically are fortunately no longer have any political gravitas.

    The expansion of PFI under Labour is the prime example of where NHS hospitals, are still paying back loans on buildings causing more debt affecting NHS services and patient care. The NHS is going to be major election topic so why not bring this up, and other examples, with some facts and figures. You never know it might even shut some of these hostile people in the audience albeit briefly.

  • I didn’t watch but my wife, who’s non-political & generally sceptical of all politicians, reported that she found Jo most impressive – and better than she’s seen been before.

  • Sue Traverso 23rd Nov '19 - 11:50am

    Right from the start of her session my husband and I were convinced the audience was totally rigged. We saw many recognisable momentum regular audience attenders and laughed out loud when a man too young to know how Wilson stood on the past referendum spoke with such authority. Clearly a plant with advance knowledge of what Corbyn was going to say. In the past weeks found a few Socialists here in North Norfolk who would cut off their right arm if they had to vote for him and it clearly pains them. He is not as popular as they think.

  • nigel hunter 23rd Nov '19 - 11:52am

    Whilst it may have been done to a ‘formula’ Alison Pedley, aknown supporter of the Tories pick the audience.Equally Sarah Sands who ‘arranges’ radio 4 flagship news programme comes from the Torygraph and Mail background.Over the years right wingers have been joining the BBC in key places. It is no longer free and balanced. On Newsnight the stitch up continued with the media commentators stating their comments from the engineerdc QT.

  • David Evershed 23rd Nov '19 - 12:01pm

    We need to convince the BBC that when they are selecting audiences they should adopt proportional representation rather than follow the first past the post system.

  • The audience should have reflected the population, not the House of Commons. The Lib Dems would still have only been about 15% of the audience but not so duked as the proxy FPTP approach the Beeb adopted. They deserve to be slated on this decision, just as ITV did on their debate decisions.

    That said, I was very impressed by the audience and the questions they put to all of the four leaders there. Yes, Jo got a very rough ride but in terms of questions, those put to Johnson and Corbyn were every bit as tough. The disadvantage Jo really had was the lack of a partisan group who would applaud at points.

    As for Jo’s performance, there were good bits and bad. She was dignified and much to her credit, answered questions honestly and directly. But in the face of tough questioning over her role in the Coalition Government, she wasn’t as effective as I hoped.

    And on the Brexit/Revoke point, I really do think our messaging has too often been problematic. Ed Davey got it right at the weekend: we want to end Brexit but only on the basis of a popular vote, which can take one of two forms: us as a majority or in a second referendum. Given the three years of utter chaos the Tories have delivered, the failure to talk to the people about what Brexit should actually be and the duplicity in moving, without a mandate, to a hard Brexit position, we want the people to be able to speak on this. That is our message.

    I realise it was a challenging environment last night, but that is what I wanted to hear, and it didn’t come across clearly enough.

  • What we dont know is how Jo came across to the Voters watching at home & they are the only audience that matters.
    There will be a bunch of Polls tonight but they will all reflect opinion before QT. If last night has any effect on the Polls then we wont see it till midweek at the earliest.
    Clearly we are now fighting a defensive Campaign but there is still time for that to change.

  • John Marriott 23rd Nov '19 - 12:38pm

    Well said, David Beckett. I couldn’t agree more. As all three of the panellists on ‘Newsnight’ said afterwards, they really felt quite sorry for Jo Swinson. Does anyone remember the analogy used by the late Sir Geoffrey Howe in his resignation speech, about the captain sending out his batsmen with broken bats? The question has to be; “Who is the captain and is he/she/ or are they prepared to undertake a course correction before it’s too late?”

    All the time that I was actively involved in politics I tried to put myself in the shoes of the average Joe, whose interest in the less than noble art was, at best, limited. in other words, understand what makes them tick. That’s what Blair did and he was successful. However, once in power, he like Ramsay MacDonald before him, succumbed to the lure of vanity and forgot what principles he might have ever had.

    If you want to change the world, you sometimes have to sing from more than one hymn sheet. Am I a cynic? You bet I am. At 76 who wouldn’t be? I’ll leave all the idealism to you youngsters, who reckon you are the first to have invented the wheel. I say; “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. However, just remember where you are coming from if you ever get to a position where you can really make a difference!

  • Brian Edmonds 23rd Nov '19 - 12:55pm

    Jo did well in the face of the predictable onslaught, particularly when the reaction of an overwhelmingly hostile studio audience is spun as a measure of her failure. All I would say is that we still need a clearer rebuttal line to the ‘anti-democracy’ trope. We must argue positively that to supersede the 2016 vote is legitimate, because democracy is a living thing, and no decision can ever be irrevocable if we are to retain our freedoms.
    We are rightly pushing the point that Brexit, far from solving the nation’s problems, will make things worse. Young new voters are largely in favour of remain, and it is they who have a future to decide, not Farage or the ERG. The point we must make, loud and clear, is that no one has the right to freeze democracy on a date of their choosing; that way lies totalitarianism, not freedom.

  • Christopher Curtis 23rd Nov '19 - 1:00pm

    The BBC must have used some means of Party membership or affiliation to “weigh” its audience invitations, once it decided to do so according to composition of the recent Parliament. I suspect that those affiliated to Labour would be more aware of and sharp about austerity and those affiliated to Conservatives sharper about revocation than the general public.
    Jo could have been smarter and better prepared about the many obvious attack lines that were going to come her way. It’s right to be reasonable and to try to engage with genuine questioners, but you have to have short, clear lines to parry attacks and your own counter-questions and statements to try to open a genuine debate. Corbyn did the same thing several times. Insisted on answering the question when people tried to shout him down before he could do so, then gave brief, clear answers to the issue raised, often in 1, 2, 3 format. What would our 1, 2, 3 answer be to austerity, or revoking article 50, or working with other parties? It’s not rocket science but it needs to be that clear.

  • David Becket 23rd Nov '19 - 1:34pm

    Janet Street Porter in today’s I highlights another issue that needs to be addressed. It is not too late

  • Kevin Mahoney 23rd Nov '19 - 1:42pm

    You’re always going to get a grilling during an election campaign. I thought Jo did very well to get the main points across. The format was far better than the ridiculous Andrew Neill interview in the previous election, where Tim Farron wasn’t allowed to string two words together. Jo did very well in adversity – hopefully it won’t take the fulfilment of Brexit for her to really show her prime ministerial laurels.

  • Revoke policy is costing us votes. We’d still have been a remain party without policy change. Also disappointing that Swinson didn’t make more robust defense of coalition decisions.

  • It’s one thing for the BBC to pick an audience that is 50% Tory, 40% Labour and only 2% Lib Dem – quite another to not point this out to the viewers at the start of the programme. A clear case of BBC bias in my opinion.

  • Geoffrey Dron 23rd Nov '19 - 2:06pm


    Agreed on predicactability.

    The Lib Dems want to be seen as the most moderate party, as a centrist alternative to Tories or Labour, but they’ve undermined that by taking such a fundamentalist stance on Brexit.

    I suspect it’ll play well in southern target seats, but in my part of NW England (Bolton NE) it’s going down like a lead balloon.

    Also the inability or unwillingness to address the issue of how LDs view participation in the EU’s political project (federalism) is clear to all. Jo and Ed must spell out the stance here: remain/rejoin or remain/rejoin + reform.

    OK, I didn’t leave the Tory party to sit out a GE, and I’ll still vote LD.

  • Anthony Acton 23rd Nov '19 - 2:09pm

    Although she must have felt the universe had abandoned her as her answers were repeatedly greeted by stony silences, Jo maintained a calm dignity throughout. Nicola Sturgeon did well, but of course she did not have to face a barrage of “when did you stop beating your father” harangues from paid-up members of the Labour and Tory parties. Keep the faith.

  • Barry Lofty 23rd Nov '19 - 3:02pm

    Re, the reference to Janet Street Porters column in today’s I newspaper I thought she was just plain rude about Jo and way of the mark as she often is!! She said if Jo Swinson had followed Johnson and Corbyn and dressed as a serious politician ,or words to that affect, she would have come across better never mind that those two, in seeming to change their appearance, were perpetrating another lie.

  • Arnold Kiel 23rd Nov '19 - 4:23pm

    “Revoke policy is costing us votes.”

    Really? If a 2nd referendum were our Brexit-policy, how would that look? Exactly, like Labour minus most spending. Who would vote for that? In Con/Lib contests, undecided voters would take this as a proxy-Labour vote. In Lab/Lib contests voters would ask why not go for the real thing. There is nothing to be gained on the Brexit middle-ground that only exists procedurally, not substantively.

  • Steve Richards while critical was genuinely puzzled by “no Lib Dem’s invited”. The BBC are getting more and more crass about these matters. I only tuned in after the event feeling that I was due a visit to my favourite pub within my council ward – a working class micro with a mix of Labour, Lib Dem’s and non-voters, where civilised discussion across the leave/remain divide happens. If Mr Corbyn wants tips about bringing people together he would be very welcome. I don’t hear people dismissing Jo out of hand there – she is reaching some unlikely people.

  • I thought Jo did very well. Unlike Corbyn who had half the audience clapping, poor Jo must have looked in vain for a Lib Dem supporter! The premise and logic of some of the questions left me baffled. You can’t be in a coalition without ever supporting your partners’ policies when you need them to support yours.

  • John Barrett 23rd Nov '19 - 5:55pm

    I was impressed by Jo’s performance under pressure and her reasoned responses to reasonable questions, but there is a need to sharpen up on responses to unreasonable questions, which will always be put when the audience is hostile, as it was last night.

    It may not be the detailed reasonable response about Lib-Dem actions people expect, but when tuition fees are raised, questioners (and journalists) should firstly be reminded that it was the Labour party who introduced Tuition Fees despite promises not to. The issue over the increase in fees under the coalition has let Labour off the hook on this time and again.

    Other questions put by the audience, like the one on austerity meaning that running a budget surplus means permanent austerity, should be shot down by, for instance, mentioning that strong economies, like Germany, who have a surplus, can then invest that surplus to produce future growth.

    With postal votes about to go out soon, I have received five pieces of literature from the Lib-Dems and nothing so far from any other party. Christine Jardine deserves to have a good birthday action weekend this weekend and hopefully a good result here in Edinburgh West.

  • Tony Greaves 23rd Nov '19 - 6:12pm

    Thank you for confirming that the audience last night was rigged by the BBC. Well it’s a change from refusing to allow a LD to take part. The BBC is an utter disgrace and it should be closed down and its genuinely public service sections transferred to a new channel with a remit to broadcast news as news and not entertainment.

  • nigel hunter 23rd Nov '19 - 7:17pm

    We must point out that Johnson AND corbyn’s ‘deals’ when done will still have taken time AND then have to negotiate trade deals . Get Brexit done and Stop Brexit BOTH ARE DONE WITHIN A DAY BY REVOKING A50 if people are fed up with Brexit. Equally trade deals will not be needed cos we stay in the EU. then deals will be made at liesure. WE MUST POINT OUT THAT THERE DEALS MEAN MORE TIME CONSUMING UNCERTAINTY WHILSTI do not think we attack both of their deals enough. REVOKE IS DON OVERNIGHT.

  • Peter Martin 23rd Nov '19 - 7:18pm

    @ John Barrett,

    ……strong economies, like Germany, who have a surplus, can then invest that surplus to produce future growth.

    There are three things wrong with this!

    1) Not all strong economies run at a surplus. The USA, Canada, NZ, the UK (prior to the 2008 GFC), to name just a few.

    2) A governmental budget surplus is only possible if a country runs a large current account trade surplus. Then the government has to remove the influx of money, via the taxation mechanism, to prevent high inflation. Not all countries can run a trade surplus. The net exporters of the world do need us net importers.

    3) A government’s surplus isn’t the same as company’s profit. A profit can be re-invested. A surplus cannot. If a surplus is spent in any way it ceases, by definition, to be a surplus.

  • chris moore 23rd Nov '19 - 7:26pm

    You are right, Ruth.

    Jo is a big plus to the party. A breath of fresh air.

    Janet Street-Porter should know better than to criticise Jo’s clothes.

    We need to keep beating on against the current. Thee are signs that things are beginning to go the right way. There’s been a lot of positive coverage of Jo’s appearance.

  • Women, particularly younger women will always be criticised for what they wear (thank god the last candidate I worked for was a 60+ white male!) there is a pretty big chunk of unpleasant sexism in JSP’s comments. To which I won’t reference Not The Nine O’Clock News in response.

    Jo gave a (very IMO) good performance. But it was defensive (not her fault) so won’t do much for the party more widely

    “Canvassing this morning, I found a generally warm (if somewhat undecided reception on the doorstep” – 2015 was full of ‘we’re getting a great response on the doorstep – the polls can’t be right’ comments.

  • David Beckett and David Marriott,

    I think we have been down playing revoke and building up another referendum. Also I think we have been down playing the possibility of us being the largest party with Jo as PM (Ed Davey I think admitted it was unlikely recently.)

    I agree we should stop attacking Labour. Especially as history shows we do best against a Conservative government when Labour do well as well – 1923, 1929, 1964, 1970, and 1997.

    I agree we should recognise that if no party gets a majority in Parliament the choice will be between Corbyn and Johnson and we should set out what our red lines would be to support them into office.

  • Phil Beesley 23rd Nov '19 - 9:23pm

    @Peter Martin: “A governmental budget surplus is only possible if a country runs a large current account trade surplus.”

    Another way of looking at it is that workers do not receive immediate reward for their efforts. A budget surplus may be returned to workers in the future (deferred payment or money for a rainy day) or it may just go astray.

  • Phil Beesley 23rd Nov '19 - 11:17pm

    Other things we learned from that TV session about Brexit:
    1) The Conservative Party offers the Johnson deal or no deal Brexit, programmes which failed to win support in the last Parliament.
    2) The Labour Party promises new negotiations potentially resulting with a different deal, followed by a confirmatory referendum. We were not told how or why other EU countries would offer a different deal to Corbyn.
    3) Lib Dems fluffed presentation of revoke. The other two parties have demonstrated that the preferred deals are rubbish (damaging to the UK in political or financial terms), that any potential fresh deals ( a la Corbyn) would be equally bad or fanciful.

    Any “deal”, if we make one, is just a starting point for the next set of negotiations. Those negotiations are about how British exporters will have to pay money to sell goods and services in the EU, rights which they now get for free. Any “deal” is worse than revoke.

    The EU has become a cartel rather than a democratic institution, and the UK has contributed to its shape. I find it an unpleasant organisation, but there is enough potential good to make me want to stay. I voted Remain.

    Lib Dems have two messages to sell:
    1) The Brexit anti-migration argument is economically illiterate and harms families and community relations. For that argument to work, start years ago.
    2) Johnson’s deal or Corbyn’s deal or No Deal are not The End of Brexit. They are the start of working out a lousy deal for British industry and workers.

  • Some of the hosing that Jo Swinson was subjected to by Labour supporters can be explained by tribalism and by the polarising position the Lib Dems have taken on Brexit.

    But I think the mix of Lib Dem political messages and choices, especially the historic reliance on tactical voting, also explains a lot of it. In the New Labour minds, the Lib Dems were famous for three policies apart from being pro-European: a penny on income tax for schools; no tuition fees; and opposing the Iraq War. These positions were thought to position the Lib Dems “left of Labour” at one point: something encouraged by the party to win votes. Even today, the dominant message is “only the Lib Dems can beat the Tories” here. (Admittedly said about Labour too, but with some specific exceptions — perhaps, this time, seats with big Jewish populations — that has much less cut-through.) Voter whiplash associated with the Coalition government, then, shouldn’t be a surprise: if people only vote for you because you’re not the other guy, and then you work with the other guy, they are entitled to feel cheesed off.

    In a system where marginal seats are won and lost tactically, and winning those seats is the best way attract attention to broader political messages, that’s a conundrum, for sure. But the bottom line is a healthy democracy has people largely voting for people they feel share their judgement on key issues, not against those they fear do not. Tactical voting as a strategy gets in the way of this (and muddies the message from the electorate about what policies are likely to command a majority). Until the Lib Dems can build a viable political strategy that does not depend on being Labour-lite (or Labour-plus in the early 2000s), support will be ephemeral and reactions such as that of the QT audience common.

  • @John Barrett, what a sensible post – as I would expect.
    Other than that, my only comment on this thread is: are we seriously giving an ounce of thought to what Janet Street Porter says about anything?

  • Do we need to respond passively to the Student fees jibe from Labour? A labour Govt. introduced £3k fees before the crash, commissioned the Brown report which surfaced after the crash recommending the increase!
    On a cheery note, Ed Davey was brilliant against Andrew Neil after Neil had savaged the Tory Chairman.

  • chris moore 24th Nov '19 - 8:29am

    The campaign, in spite of some slips, is actually going pretty well, in my opinion. There have been positive straws in the wind for some days now.

    Good reception on the doorstep, positive comment on Jo, (battling in difficult circumstances), Johnson’s ratings beginning to decline etc etc

    This is borne out by the latest Sunday polls which overall are an advance on last weekend.

    Btw In interpreting the polls, It’s worth remembering that several of the pollsters seriously underestimated the Lib Dem share at the recent Euro elections.

    At the Euros, the Lib Dems got 19.6% UK/ 20.3% GB.

    Here were the Lib Dem scores of the last polls of some of the companies:

    Survation 12%.
    Opinum 15%
    Panel Base 15%

    No company OVER-estimated the LD result.

  • @George Burn “Ed Davey got it right at the weekend: we want to end Brexit but only on the basis of a popular vote, which can take one of two forms: us as a majority or in a second referendum.” I thought Chuka did a good interview on Radio 4 yesterday (Saturday morning) making essentially the same point.

    The great weakness of the Conservative position is their haste. Mr Johnson needs to spend more time talking to turkeys, getting their opinions on being oven ready. I expect they think it is a bad idea.

  • Bill le Breton 24th Nov '19 - 9:22am

    Good campaigns have swords and shields – preferably one good sword and one good shield.

    Revoke is an example of a sword issue. It can only be effective if it is accompanied by a shield. The shield is a dismantlement of the Johnson deal.

    Convince people that the existing ‘oven-ready’ Withdrawal Agreement (WA) would lead to a depression in this country and revoke seems an obvious solution – as the country hurtles towards depression what good is it to waste 6-9 months on negotiating a new WA and then ‘risking’ another fraudulent referendum campaign?

    But no-one has effectively challenged Johnson’s deal. On day one of the campaign the NEISR published a damning assessment of of the agreement. It contains ample reasons for revoke.

    The Deal cannot lead to a rapid Free Trade Agreement so it is ‘code’ for No Deal – ‘crashing out’ etc. This is the negative campaign. It builds on ‘You Can’t Trust Johnson. It is the ‘Secret Plan’.

  • Peter Martin 24th Nov '19 - 9:28am

    @ Phil Beesley,

    “A budget surplus may be returned to workers in the future”

    You are suggesting that the Govt should save up its own IOUs for “a rainy day”. It never makes any sense to do this.

  • John Littler 24th Nov '19 - 11:00am

    The BBC have form on stacking up brexity audiences, as they apparently did on a QT in the N.East recently. They see a future for them post Licence fee in big, english speaking USA with the UK close to them.

  • @Paul Walter – I think what was being asked for is the actual statement by the BBC, which Alex C-H is referring to in that tweet. At the moment all we have is that tweet, which is hearsay. I’d like to see the first-hand evidence. (I have no doubt it is true, but it would be good to be able to show people).

  • @marcstevens @John Barrett @BrianD

    On Tuition Fees (original introduction) and PFI I think the big problem with going after Labour on them is that since their introduction under the previous Labour government, the Labour party has fairly thoroughly repudiated them by:
    – electing Corbyn
    – passing policies against them
    – very clearly not being Blair/Brown’s Labour any more
    It’s been a very visible and undeniable change of direction of the party. If it was someone like Miliband (either one), or Cooper, or similar in charge still – sure, very workable. Against Corbyn … no.

    Obviously the Lib Dems have not been through a similarly visible internal realignment since Clegg and the coalition, so have to use a different strategy for defending their previous actions in government.

  • Ronald Murray 24th Nov '19 - 11:51am

    I feel Jo Swinson did very well on question time. Against an audience loaded against sadly I think we will pay for the pact with the Tories for a long time. It should also be remembered that Labour shied away from a pact with us at that time for reasons best known to themselves. As for her abript Yes to the use of Nuclear Weapons that could have been dealt with better. As a former soldier I see Nuclear War as extinction not war. M Gorbachev is write saying this and they will never be used. Except by the more lunatic states against each other. Lets fight the campaign with our excellent policies not just Brexit. Or we will look a one trick pony. Hopefully all the ignorant personal insults on social media will stop. Also in Scotland emphasize we were the original home rule party.

  • Just to remind everyone that all the “current” Polls were taken before Question Time. If the show had any effect it wont show up till mid-week.

  • chris moore 24th Nov '19 - 1:02pm


    Bit strong, Peter.

  • John Barrett 24th Nov '19 - 3:45pm

    Peter Martin – You appear to have missed the point I was making about the link between austerity and spending made by the audience member who was having a go at Jo.

    Not all strong economies might run a surplus, but many have a commitment to reducing their debt, so even those economies are not saying that it is a good thing.

    The amount spent servicing our debt annually is in the region of £50billion (even with some of this going back to the government via the Bank of England).

    A budget surplus can be used to pay off debt or save for the future, so it is not so different from a company profit in many ways.

    One thing we are sure to see if there is a Labour government is a massive increase in debt and increased interest rates.

  • Katharine Pindar 24th Nov '19 - 4:43pm

    Are Mr Corbyn’s ambitious plans put forward with the expectation of a deal for a soft Brexit preceding their implementation? How will the plans be affected if the result of a new Referendum is to Remain?
    In the case of Mr Johnson, is his programme put forward on the basis of his Deal being accepted this winter, with no regard to the negotiations to follow on the Withdrawal Agreement?
    The questions of what is to be in a deal and what are the implications for the future, whether one is passed with or without another referendum are being avoided. They were even bypassed in the debate of the two leaders, asked but not put to them.

    The only clarity is coming from our party. Revoke and (as someone else wrote above) all the waiting and uncertainty re over; or vote Remain if a new referendum is called. In either case our own Manifesto proposals stand.

    Certainly Jo is right to refuse to deal with either Corbyn or Johnson. Let them clarify what they expect and hope, behind all the lavish promises, to achieve in the coming year. And whichever has the bigger majority at the Election, let our party proceed on the basis of supporting plans of action and policies with which we can agree.

  • Campaign HQ must heed Bill Le Breton. With “oven ready” they are perpetuating a myth repeatedly enough for it to become “fact” (ppGoebells) where “deal” is good and final.
    Repeal of article 50 is final!

  • Peter Martin 24th Nov '19 - 7:18pm

    @ chris moore @ John Barrett,

    If everyone in the 1920s and 30s had understood how economies actually work the history of the remainder of the century would have been quite different. There was really no need to have the Great Depression. There were no natural disasters for humanity to blame it all on. The war that directly followed killed some 60 million people. How stupid can we all be?

    Yes it never makes sense for me to save my own IOUs. It might make sense for you, ie chris and John, to save them up. They are, assuming I don’t default, which I never have, useful to you. They are just bits of paper to me. I can write out as many as I like. I can tear up as many as I like. It makes not the slightest difference. Think about it.

  • The audience selection/stacking on Friday’s programme is a serious issue. If you care about it, you know what to do:
    As I’ve said on here before, I’ve worked in media for 20 years – including dealing with the BBC. Believe me: complaining works. It makes them think. And, more times than you imagine, they do make changes. But that’s IFthey get a lot of complaints. If they don’t, they’ll just keep doing stuff like this. Why wouldn’t they?

  • Richard Underhill 24th Nov '19 - 9:57pm

    The SNP have changed.
    They were insisting on not having a veto from London on the timing of an INDYREF2.
    The Labour leader has declined to allow anything competing with his priorities in the first 2 years of the next government, if, of course, they get an overall majority in the Commons.
    The SNP have since announced that abolishing Trident is a red line for them, while making problems for Labour unity.
    Therefore a “loose arrangement” between Labour and the SNP is uncertain.
    On current information a Labour-SNP coalition is unlikely.
    The SNP leader would definitely not put Boris Johnson into Downing Street.
    The collapse of the Brexit Party position in opinion polls means they may get no seats at all, two less than UKIP achieved.

  • The big problem now is a gross imbalance in media coverage. Boris Johnson is everywhere you look, while Jo Swinson hardly gets a look in. I have noticed his picture is used even on articles which do not relate to him. The Tories have established total saturation dominance of practically all the media, not just the BBC, and this simple fact explains their rise in the polls. Whether this will translate into the election result is another matter.

  • Bill le Breton 25th Nov '19 - 8:40am

    Brian D – thanks for your support over the question of this election not scrutinizing the Withdrawel Agreement.

    Strangely, evidence of its disastrous impact maybe lie in the Tory’s modest manifesto initiatives.

    This press release from the NEISR spells out the depressive and deflationary effect of the agreement:

    “We would not expect economic activity to be boosted by the approval of the government’s proposed Brexit deal. We estimate that, in the long run, the economy would be 3½ per cent smaller with the deal compared to continued EU membership.”

    Ending Uncertainty is the greatest misnomer imaginable. One possible future for us is a Tory majority taking us out without an Free Trade Agreement. Remember, we shall be out – the future no deal is not ‘no deal on the divorce’ – it is no trade deal with 50% of our present market – and bang! – occuring in two year’s time year on 31st January 2022.

    The second is a humiliating deal with the 27 – trading most of the country’s assets for access to that 50% of our market + the horror of awaiting on the whims of the USA negotiators.

    Imagine the rise of the far right in these circumstances – the ungovernability of the country in thrall to economic depression. Imagine what the next general election could bring if Johnson is not defeated now, in the next 20 days.

  • John King: more we see of Johnson less of Swinson may in fact help Swinson!

  • Peter Martin 25th Nov '19 - 11:03am

    @ Bill le Breton,

    ” Imagine what the next general election could bring if Johnson is not defeated now, in the next 20 days.”

    We’ll almost certainly see soon enough so there’ll be no need for our imaginations. I’m not too worried about Brexit. 3.5% in the long run is neither here nor there. What does the long run mean anyway? I doubt anyone has sufficient confidence in the abilities of our economic forecasters to take much notice of that figure anyway. I am more worried about 5 years of Tory government.

    I’d say it is the other way around for many Lib Dems. They are worried about Brexit but they aren’t too worried about 5 years of Tory rule. If the choice is between Labour with no Brexit and the Tories with Brexit, then it has to be the latter.

  • A line from a recent black comedy novel about the rise of the Nazi party in Germany in the 1930s written by Eric Vuillard called “The Order Of The Day” stated
    Great catastrophes often creep up on us in tiny steps. Something for us all to reflect on?

  • Bill le Breton 25th Nov '19 - 11:50am

    Barry, I could not agree more with your choice of quotation.

    Post-Truth leaves democracy defenceless.

  • We now have some, uncertain indications about the effect of Question Time.
    There have been 2 Polls taken partly after the show, both showing a rise in our support.
    If we presume that the rise came entirely on the Saturday that would suggest something big, a “Cleggmania ” type boost.
    However, both Polls were showing very low figures for us before so we may just be seeing a “Reversion to The Mean”, a natural rebalancing which might mean very little.
    We just have to wait for more Polls.

  • Peter Watson 25th Nov '19 - 12:50pm

    @Richard Underhill “The collapse of the Brexit Party position in opinion polls means they may get no seats at all, two less than UKIP achieved.”
    Care must be taken when interpreting this. As I understand it, many pollsters have already factored in the fact that the Brexit Party are not standing in a large number of seats (e.g. prompting respondents with lists of parties that are standing in their constituency, etc.) so a poor national vote share might be misleading (much like the Lib Dems’ apparent slump nationally might hide a good performance in a significant number of targets).
    Obviously the opportunity/threat is that the way this polling is reported risks making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • theakes 25th Nov ’19 – 10:15am:

    “more we see of Johnson less of Swinson may in fact help Swinson!”

    If this is a reference to Jo’s approval ratings, then they don’t show what you think they show. They show that since Jo became leader, a lot more people hostile to the Lib Dems have discovered who she is. What they do NOT show is that people who previously liked no longer like her.

  • Arnold Kiel 25th Nov '19 - 1:13pm

    It should be clear now that a Johnson-majority means a no-deal Brexit at the end of 2020 (not 22!). Johnson’s changes to the political declaration prepare for social, fiscal, and environmental dumping; free EU market access is unavailable to a UK intent on that.

    This could only be avoided if the incoming Tory-Government fundamentally changed its outlook and intentions, and breaks one central manifesto-pledge: no extension of the implementation-phase (in reality the negotiation-phase). This decision would have to be made before July of next year. Given their track record, this date will pass before serious negotiations start, let alone the Tories levelling with themselves and the public.

    Alternatively, at the end of 2020 all EU-leaders would have to agree to a delayed (in breach of contract) request for an insufficient (they would never dare to ask for the at least needed full 2 years) standstill-extension requested by an adversarial UK Government to continue already acrimonious negotiations with little prospect of ending timely and constructively.

    This time not only Macron will say: enough is enough.

  • nvelope2003 25th Nov '19 - 2:25pm

    theakes: Mrs Thatcher was hated by some people but it did not stop her winning elections. Haters always shout about it but the others keep quiet. Most people are not full of hate and tend to admire those who seem straightforward and to know what they are doing.

  • Paul Barker 25th Nov '19 - 7:47pm

    We have now seen 3 Polls partly done after Jos appearance on Question Time, 2 show us going up & 1 has us staying level. What to make of that ?
    We need to see more Polls to be sure.

  • Doug Chisholm 26th Nov '19 - 8:05am

    I thought Jo did okay but she has logn way to go if she actually wants to reach out a wider audience. Of course she needs to be able to rebutt difficult questions and has others have said a few reminders about who actually started the Iraq war and introduced tutition fees wouldnt go amiss.
    But my biggest is the “PM” and “revoke” nonsense. Jo *has* damaged her credibility with these statements. The first is laughable and telling people something they simply dont believe just doest resonate well. Secondly “revoke” is out of step with where we should be as a party that beleives in compromise and moderation. It has irritated some remainers and again isnt even credible since we wont be forming the next government.

    However my biggest fear is that the leadership of the party has never shown much ability to change gear or make a “big move” – there is still time and I believe the potential support in the country for us to do better. But we will need to show more imagination about the big picture than we shown to date.

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