Vince Cable, the next PM?


As a fan of Mrs Thatcher it might seem odd that I have just joined the Liberal Democrats. However times change, hard right policies are more likely to drive the large number of people depending on in-work benefits or working in the government into the hands of Mr Corbyn.  Labour, who shout loudly about democratic mandates, are likely to have another go at bankrupting the country as well as bring democracy into disrepute by promising endless giveaways.

The worst possible case for the UK is to have a Labour government and be outside the EU. Labour want out of EU because they can then rape and pillage the slightly rich – anyone who cannot bite back. Given the pasting that the EU gets from our press it is actually surprising that, as far as citizens’ rights go, it actually does work – and seems to be improving in many areas. It would be ironical if Brexit forces them to reform further in the interests of its citizens rather than its bureaucrats.

I would probably have not joined up had not Vince Cable become leader; he at least talks some reasonable sense – most of the time. Now he has the amusing task of saving the country from itself. The current fickleness of the British voting public means just about anything is possible but it will mean swallowing some liberal pride to get there. Looking from the outside, there is one little trick that might placate half the Brexiteers and that is a very strict residence test before there is any access to benefits, social housing, in-work benefits and possibly the personal tax allowance. By strict I mean at least five years…

This can be done without EU permission as long as it is applied equally to British citizens and can be a culmulative rather than continous period, affecting then only a trivial number of Brits. This goes against many liberal doctrines but swallowing them should be quite easy if it means staying in the EU. It also saves huge sums of money, up to ten billion depending on how it is played out… and, yes, it will be harder to get foreign nurses, and the like, but nothing to stop the government compensating them with a housing allowance from some of the money saved.

Whilst doing it without EU permission has its attractions, it would be much better to send Sir Vince off to Mrs Merkel, get her public blessing and then claim that the game has changed, and a second referendum needed. If the British people can see that foreigners in low paid jobs will be somewhat worse off than themselves, rather than taking their social housing etc, I think it would be enough of a game-changer to take the heat out of Brexit, the trend already running against it.

If it worked, Corbyn would be wrong-footed and Mrs May’s political ethos appear quite pointless. The press would go berserk for a little while but the pervasive view would be the country had just refound its good sense… and given that fickle voting who knows what the next election might bring the only party on the right side of things.

* Bill Fowler is an ex-Conservative supporter, exasperated by their combination of arrogance and stupidity

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  • jayne Mansfield 25th Jul '17 - 10:34am

    ‘ As a fan of Mrs Thatcher, it might seem odd that I have joined the Liberal Democrats’.

    Sadly, not odd at all Bill.

  • Sadly, in the light of recent experience, I have to agree with Jayne.

  • Andrew McCaig 25th Jul '17 - 10:45am

    I guess the reason we never did this is because it would affect British citizens who go abroad or perhaps marry a foreigner, lose their job or means of support and then come back to the UK to look for work and need benefits.. You can imagine the hard cases that would provide for the Sun and the Mail.

    Perhaps we could find some intermediate policy that would not leave innocent people in limbo and hardship?

  • Andrew McCaig 25th Jul '17 - 10:52am

    Maybe we could have a parental qualification, so that if you or your parents have paid NI in the UK for 5 years or more, you get the rights to immediate benefits?

    In general though, (even though I am not a fan of Mrs Thatcher) I have often wondered why we did not do something like this to defuse a lot of the EU migrant arguments that I was hearing on the doorstep from a former Lib Dem voter only last weekend…

  • Andrew McCaig 25th Jul '17 - 10:53am

    I should have said for 5 years or more at any time in the past…

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jul '17 - 11:46am

    Bill Fowler

    However times change, hard right policies are more likely to drive the large number of people depending on in-work benefits or working in the government into the hands of Mr Corbyn.

    Using language like “rape and pillage the slightly rich” to mean the sort of tax increases that are necessary to keep public services going is most definitely hard right. I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats and its predecessor the Liberal Party for 39 years, but I don’t want to be in a party that contains hard right extremists like you, Bill Fowler. I joined the Liberal Party to oppose people like you.

  • David Evershed 25th Jul '17 - 11:50am

    Free markets, open competition, consumer choice and free trade across borders have always been a fundamental belief of Liberals – just like Margaret Thatcher.

    Vince Cable privatised the Post Office, one state run business Margaret Thatcher did not get round to privatising.

    Encouraging self help would be another area in common between Liberals and Margaret Thatcher.

    Demonising Margaret Thatcher is the same as demonising some core Liberal beliefs.

  • @Matthew, that phrase jumped out at me too, and not in a good way.

    Corbyn in power would be bad for the country because of his incompetence and not bothering to check how much things like scrapping student debt might cost, but so far he hasn’t actually called for any kind of tax policy that could even approach ‘rape and pillage’, and the ‘slightly rich’ suffer when public services are neglected, although it doesn’t tend to hit them quite as quickly or obviously as the most vulnerable.

    Of course, nothing in the Labour or Tory manifesto is quite as damaging to the rich or poor as the hard-Brexit being pursued by the leadership of both parties, for no other reason than they are worried about losing votes to each other.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Jul '17 - 12:34pm

    “Given the pasting that the EU gets from our press” except for factually passed journalists at the Financial Times and The Economist magazine.
    A civil servant in Brussels told us that “Unanimity is required” which meant that the British PM intended to turn the collegiate Council of Ministers into a meeting where she could exercise a veto and block progress. It was therefore obvious that a change of PM was needed, which the Tory cabinet came to realise when they foresaw the 1991/2 general election. Recent memoirs refer: Ken Clarke “Kind of Blue”, Chris Patten “First Confession” and previous memoirs by John Major about the pain that dentistry did to him at the time. A period of stagnation under Mrs Thatcher was one reason why support for the EU dropped between the referendum win in 1975 with a large majority and defeat in 2016 by a much smaller amount.
    She had more determination than Keith Joseph and the support of Enoch Powell.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jul '17 - 12:38pm


    Corbyn in power would be bad for the country because of his incompetence and not bothering to check how much things like scrapping student debt might cost,

    Indeed, this is a somewhat fundamental issue. Corbyn does well in the election with the tuition fees issue being a major aspect of his success – then he admits he doesn’t even have a clue how much dealing with it would cost. Anyone with any competence ought to be able to work out at least a rough estimate of it, and then a rough estimate of how it could be paid for in taxation.

    The incompetency of the Liberal Democrat leadership was shown up by its failure to challenge Corbyn on this. I saw Labour posters all over the place saying something like “Vote Labour to save you £27,000”. Err, duh, ok, but what about the taxation that will have to replace it? Personally I would rather there is such taxation, but I would like to see some honesty on what form it would take involving actual numerate discussion.

    Sadly, we too in the election encouraged this innumerate way of campaigning by denouncing Theresa May’s honesty in at least suggesting a practical way forward to pay for the growing costs of social care. We didn’t point out that our acceptance of tuition fees came about because there was no way the Tories as the main party in government would drop their pledge to keep taxes down, so we wouldn’t have been able to get them to agree to the taxation necessary to keep to our original plan.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jul '17 - 12:43pm

    David Evershed

    Free markets, open competition, consumer choice and free trade across borders have always been a fundamental belief of Liberals – just like Margaret Thatcher.

    The phrase “None shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance and conformity” was developed to point out that the aspects you mention are not the only aspect of freedom. It has actually always been a fundamental belief of true Liberals that some aspects of freedom are enhanced by government intervention.

    Pushing the line that liberalism is about free market economics and nothing else is a modern invention, an Orwellian re-writing of history by extreme right-wingers who have wrecked the party I was once such a proud and active member of.

  • Yeovil Yokel 25th Jul '17 - 12:52pm

    Cable for PM? Definitely. I wonder if Beth Windsor is grimly observing what is happening to her Sceptred Isle and wishing that she could find some pretext to ask that nice Mr. Major to come back, or better still Vince the Enforcer to knock some sense into her foolish subjects.

  • Joseph Bourke 25th Jul '17 - 1:14pm


    I think this is a solid and practical suggestion. Mrs Thatcher was a divisive figure but it has often been said (by true blue Conservatives) that she was more of a classical Gladstonian liberal than a Tory. I think many people here would agree with your assessment that the “worst possible case for the UK is to have a Labour government and be outside the EU.”

    The issue of priority for social housing is an important one and a source of much discontent among people brought up her,e when they see newly arrived immigrants being housed in their area on the basis of priority need, while they languish on housing waiting lists.

    There has been revived interest recently in integrating the tax and welfare system with the introduction of a negative income tax or universal basic income to replace universal benefits, in-work benefits, the personal tax allowance and national insurance thresholds. I think a residence test of five years for immediate families would be a pre-requsite of such a system.

    A basic income would be a universal benefit to all British Citizens resident in the UK and long tern residents that have been here for five years or more. The income would be circa £3,000 per year i.e, what is currently saved in tax and national insurance as a result of the personal tax allowance and ni threshold. Most peoples after tax income would be unaffected.

    I like your suggestion of firming up a renegotiation on the issue of benefits as a prelude to a second referendum and think this could receive support in several EU countries dealing with similar issues.

  • Jenny Barnes 25th Jul '17 - 3:38pm

    It’s entirely possible that the LDs could turn out to be better political representatives of Capital-in -general than the Tories, who have recently focussed only on the financial sector and now seem to have completely lost their raison d’etre by prioritising party unity against the good of the class they used to represent. Brexit is not good for financial institutions, and the Tories have been poor at representing the interest of the rest of Capital for some time. The question here is, I think, is that what the LDs want to be? Clearly the Orange book wing is headed in that direction, but my feeling is that most of the party are a long way left of that. Even though LDs don’t really represent the working class very well either. Maybe that explains the low vote share.

  • @ David Evershed “Free markets, open competition, consumer choice and free trade across borders have always been a fundamental belief of Liberals – just like Margaret Thatcher”.

    Are you being serious, or are you just trying to be provocative, David, because there we have it in a sentence – agreeing with the author of the phrase “there is no such thing as society”. In fact what you’re saying is the equivalent of sitting on a one legged chair.

    And there we have it as to why today’s Liberal Democrat Party is in such a confused pickle and why it has lost so many of its traditional supporters and members. How did your message go down in Buckingham West ?

    @ Fiona “Corbyn in power would be bad for the country because of his incompetence and not bothering to check how much things like scrapping student debt might cost”.

    Hasn’t he said he was not committed to scrapping student debt, and that he would only ‘examine it to see what could be done’ ? Which is, I suppose, a bit different to Nick Clegg having to apologise for creating the debt ?

  • Nick Collins 25th Jul '17 - 4:54pm

    O brave new Liberal Democrat party
    That has such people (as Bill Fowler) in’t!

  • Andrew McCaig 25th Jul '17 - 5:14pm

    When asked about graduate debt, Corbyn said he “would deal with it”. Immediately after the election I was talking to my 30 year old son who said “I immediately regretted just having paid off £5000 of my student loan if Labour were going to pay it off for me!” He certainly interpreted it as a promise! He voted Labour BTW..But only to stop Theresa May…
    The completely blank page in the Labour manifesto after the promise to cancel fees (from Sept 2017 it turned out!) was on how to fund universities going forward.. As a university employee I was very interested in that.
    The Labour manifesto really was a most irresponsible document and the triumph for Corbyn politically was not quite getting into office..

  • Bill Fowler 25th Jul '17 - 5:15pm

    Hi, to clarify the five year residence test, it would not be five years continuous residence but five years in total, so if you were born here, went abroad, came back it would not affect you as long as you had been here five years in total. This kind of wording, applied to everyone but done in such a way as to not affect the actual nationals, is common in other countries… try getting free health care in Spain if you become resident there, are under 65 and don’t pay the minimum NI contributions, for instance.

    Hard right Conservative policies, BTW, would solve the problem by reducing benefits et al down towards zero, something I am no advocating.

    My comments on Labour taxes are based on having an ex-Marxist as chancellor, may be a bit of a leap but there is an equal case for lowering taxes increasing the actual money received and if increasing taxes decreased revenue it would be people who are sitting ducks, the slightly rich so to speak, who would get clobbered.

    I am willing to take bets that if Labour got in, looked at the books, first thing they would do was say how much worse things are than they thought, so sorry taxes have to go up a lot more.

    Think there may be many more refugees from the Conservatives joining up so interesting times!

  • David Evershed 25th Jul '17 - 5:17pm

    David Raw – Re the common thinking of Liberals and Thatcher

    Wikipedia says:

    Classical liberalism is a political ideology, a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom. It is closely related to libertarianism and to free market capitalism.

    Which is why Joseph Bourke points out above that:

    “Mrs Thatcher was a divisive figure but it has often been said (by true blue Conservatives) that she was more of a classical Gladstonian liberal than a Tory.”

    Sounds as though you are not too keen on Liberals being in favour of freedom.

  • Bill Fowler 25th Jul '17 - 5:25pm

    And there is no freedom in depending on the State…

  • Bill Fowler………….. Labour, who shout loudly about democratic mandates, are likely to have another go at bankrupting the country ….

    I’d imagine that even a fan of Mrs. T. might have a little more economic savvy than to still repeat that old chestnut..

  • Nick Collins 25th Jul '17 - 5:49pm

    Thatcher had nothing but contempt for Liberal Democrats.

    At the time, I believe, that sentiment was reciprocated. it still should be.

  • Katharine Pindar 25th Jul '17 - 5:53pm

    I am appalled by this article and not willing to try to pick out better bits of it. Thatcher’s rule was ruin for many, and paved the way for neo-liberal economics, the fatal compromises of Nick Clegg and his allies in government, the austerity programme and the suffering of the poorest and least capable of getting on in our society. If Bill were typical of Newbies, I would have to leave the party at last, but luckily he is not. And Vince, thankfully, can be trusted to put forward Liberal principles like land-value taxation, which he has already mentioned in an interview.

  • jayne Mansfield 25th Jul '17 - 5:53pm

    @ Bill Fowler,
    And there is no freedom in being in ‘in work poverty’. A record 60% of families are in work poverty and approx 67% of children are from working families.

    These are disproportionately represented in private rented accommodation and their situation has been made worse by rising rent caps, cuts to tax credits and universal credit.

    There are some who seem to take a perverse interest in blaming the poor for their situation and the state for creating dependancy. Perhaps the poor should be encouraged to spend some of their income on a copy of Samuel Smiles’ ‘Self Help’.

  • Nick Collins 25th Jul '17 - 6:17pm

    “Think there may be many more refugees from the Conservatives joining up ..”

    Sounds like a hostile take-over bid.

  • @ David Evershed “Sounds as though you are not too keen on Liberals being in favour of freedom”. Surely you can do better than that, David ?

    You’ll be telling me next that a rough sleeper in the Strand is free to go and dine at the Savoy if he/she so chose – out of the kitchen bins at the back, more likely. What you call ‘liberalism’ went out of favour well before Campbell-Bannerman became PM in 1905.

    Still waiting to hear if the good people of Buckingham West rushed out to vote for your ‘liberal’ message. Did you hit 4% or not ?

    @ Bill Fowler ” I would probably have not joined up had not Vince Cable become leader; he at least talks some reasonable sense – most of the time”.

    I’m sure Vince will appreciate your humility in giving him your conditional support, Bill.

  • paul barker 25th Jul '17 - 7:16pm

    Welcome to the Party Bill but I have to disagree stongly with you suggestion. The crucial thing about The Brexiteers is that dont have any reasonable points that can be compromised with, they are Nationalists & wrong in every sense, morally wrong as well as irrational & deluded. Any concessions will only encourage them.
    As Liberals we (mostly) think that Free Movement is a good thing, we are the only serious Party arguing that position & we should stick to it.

  • David Evershed 25th Jul '17 - 7:36pm

    David Raw

    As a paper candidate in the recent local County Council elections, the voters of West Buckingham did not get to hear my views, apart from a Question Time session for candidates when the neutral Chairman restricted Q&As to local authority issues.

    Sadly the announcement of the general election swamped all discussion of local issues and from a position of having reasonable hopes of gaining an extra Lib Dem councillor in the constituency we lost our sole constituency Lib Dem County Councillor of very many years standing. So our constituency returned to being totally blue.

    Incidentally the Buckinghamshire County Council has been controlled by the Conservative party for over 130 years which is the longest the same political party has been continuosly in power anywhere in the world.

    On the plus side our constituency party membership is at record levels approaching the 300 mark.

  • “I would probably have not joined up had not Vince Cable become leader; he at least talks some reasonable sense – most of the time.” Bill Fowler

    “And Vince, thankfully, can be trusted to put forward Liberal principles like land-value taxation, which he has already mentioned in an interview.” Katharine Pindar

    The trouble is talk is cheap…

    Let us take today’s news story on a UK-US trade deal, where Vince is quoted as saying: “It is parliament, not Liam Fox, that should be the final arbiter on whether to sacrifice our standards to strike a deal with Trump.”

    As we saw with the Article 50 bill, MP’s were in a position to effectively change the word “should” into “shall” (ie. Parliament shall decide if the Brexit deal is or is not acceptable) and totally failed to act in the interests of the UK. Here we have similar situation where Vince can use and abuse the Westminster system – just as others did to get an EU referendum, to force the issue because fundamentally that was what Brexit is all about the return of power to Parliament not to the PM and their cabinet.

  • Let’s hope that Katherine is right that Bill is not typical of the Newbies.
    One wonders whether his membership application was put through due process to establish that he qualifies for membership. Agreement with the Party’s principles is a necessary precondition. Being a disgruntled Conservative isn’t sufficient. It is also rather worrying that there may be a significant number who share Bill’s views that can attend our conference as voting members.
    To comment on the “substance” of Bill’s article, pride is irrelevant and we Liberals should not accept compromise on the principle of freedom of movement. However, if it can be proved, which I doubt, that it would cause harm to others that may allow some justification for transitional controls on migration where the strain on infrastructure, public services, housing etc. would otherwise outweigh the benefits.

  • David Evershed 25th Jul '17 - 9:23pm

    John Payne

    The Lib Dem party does not have a policy of free movement of people. We do not accept free movement of people from non EU countries for example.

    The Lib Dem policy is to be a member of the EU (the rules of which currently require free movement of labour).

    Even membership of the EU is not a principle but a means to an end, such as free trade, which can hopefully also be achieved outside EU membership.

  • Neoliberal economics are a disaster. They create poverty. They reduce freedom. They do not create freedom.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 25th Jul '17 - 11:25pm

    Bill, in his article is , I think, both genuinely enthusiastic, and audaciously provocative.

    It worked, it got those from left to right of the party at him and each other.

    Those , like me , who can see the merit in his views on the EU , and the nuance of the very blinkered support we mouth as a party for a policy that is not even the official one and is not adhered to in the rest of the EU, have something in common even here, with the article seeking solutions , that Joe Bourke , and some of us , are open to.

    But I completely understand and relate to the criticism from David Raw, and others, of the absurd notion of Bill that , in quotes, depending , on the state , destroys freedom. This is a myth too far. It only applies if the state is the head of an undemocratic totalitarian one. In a democracy we are only dependent by consent. Tell all recipients of the state pension , education, healthcare , emergency services, police, roads, they are not free because dependent on the state!!!

    David says this sort of stuff has been outdated since before Edwardian era , Liberalism.

    It is even further back than that. Too many date classical Liberalism , and equate , the same, to Gladstone. And laissez – faire.

    Actually, William Penn, with his Quaker belief in a better society , in the colonies, was one.

    Thomas Jefferson, was , Benjamin Franklin, and all thinkers , of the ilk that emphasised liberty and responsibility then in ways we would not relate too, still believed , unlike Thatcher,

    That there is such a thing as society, it is made up of individual , men , and women and their families !

    Therefore the state is what we make it.

    Roosevelt was a Liberal , as was Kennedy . They knew in the New Deal and New Frontier , you can have a government that is your friend.

  • I do not think the OP is trying to be provocative or start a debate. I think he genuinely supports Maggie Thatchers policies.

  • Welcome to the party, Bill. If you are a fan of Mrs Thatcher I do wonder why you think the Liberal Democrat Party is the correct party for you. Do you think people should have their freedom restricted by their economic circumstances? And if not what should the government do to ensure everyone in the UK have an equal amount of freedom?

    Bill, how do you feel about the government ensuring everyone who wants a job has one and everyone who wants to have their own home (own or buying or renting) has one and that no one should have to worry about paying their bills, or for food or for their transport costs?

  • Bill Fowler 26th Jul '17 - 7:54am

    Many thanks for the warm welcome. Mainly, I joined because I want to stop brexit and to do that you need a reason for a second referendum, and then to win it. That should bring us all together, at least in the short term. No one has come up with a better proposition yet. A lot of the comments are a bit like being on the Titanic just before it went down, recoiling in horror because the lifeboat had a few splodges of blue showing through the paint.

    It is the State’s place to equal out opportunity and the citizen’s choice whether he or she takes advantage of those opportunities (and obviously also the State’s place to take care of the ill and aged etc). That is what Thatcherism tried to do. I also admire the Punk ethos, going strong at the same time, that even if you were tone death you could become a rock star. Those two strands made for an interesting time, what I call creative capitalism.

    I favour proportional representation, equal treatment of races and genders, universal income (to replace benefits, personal tax allowance, pensions etc), legalising soft drugs, turnover taxes on large companies, means tested grants for uni and loads of stuff I am sure we could agree on. You will not excise a certain belief in the efficacy of the free market (energy etc are not free markets) and the fact that the bigger the State gets the worse it gets for the ordinary citizen.

    Who wants a large state and arrogant local government poking into their affairs, which is where both Labour and the Conservatives seem to be heading. The State is a necessary evil not something that is going to solve all the problems of everyone in the country. History is on my side and you all knows what happens when you ignore it.

  • Bill Fowler ……….. it would be much better to send Sir Vince off to Mrs Merkel, get her public blessing and then claim that the game has changed, and a second referendum needed…….

    “Hello, I’d like to see Mrs. Merkel; I’m Vince Cable”…..
    “Vince who?”….
    “Vince Cable; and I represent 6% of UK voters”…
    “How many?”…
    “Don’t call us; we’ll call you!”

  • David Evershed
    It is implicit from the context that my comment related to future arrangements with the EU.
    “The Lib Dem party does not have a policy of free movement of people. We do not accept free movement of people from non EU countries for example.” If you are correct, maybe these are two topics where we should formulate policies in line with Liberal principles as referred to in the preamble to our constitution as follows: “Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services.”
    As for free trade although the EU has a long way to go before becoming a free trading entity the UK has better prospects of achieving free trade by retaining the closest possible arrangements with the rest of the EU and EFTA.

  • I have followed these threads, with interest, for a while and this op-ed demonstrates that a party that tries to sit at the centre must end up including views from the entire breadth of the economic spectrum all of whom go back into long irrelevant history to prove that they, and only they, are the true heirs and owners of the word “Liberal”.
    Only a few voices, like Lorenzo, try to find a constructive blend of the best of all ideas.
    Most just raise their megaphones back to their lips and repeat what they have said a thousand times.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Jul '17 - 9:41am

    Jane Chelliah

    You may have joined the Liberal Democrat party but you haven’t shed your Tory skin. It scares me that you remain a fan of Thatcher after the evident disastrous impact of her neoliberal policies.

    Why are you using that word “neoliberal”? No-one used that word to describe Margaret Thatcher and what she stood for when she was Prime Minister.

    It is a propaganda word used largely by opponents of the Liberal Democrats in order to destroy the Liberal Democrats by making out that whatever they may say they stand for, underneath they are extreme right-wingers in economic terms. I’m not aware of anyone who actually described themselves as “neoliberal”, although the term originated from economic right-wingers picking out some aspects of liberalism and ignoring many others in order to hide what they were really about.

    The equivalent of using that word is to use the word “neosocialism” to describe fascism. Well, fascism did derive from socialism, and after all the most famous fascist parry called itself the “National Socialist Workers Party”. But would you get a socialist happy to use that term? No, so we should actively oppose it.

    A better term for what some call “neoliberal” would be “neoconservative” because it is the new form of Conservatism. Conservatism is about protecting the privileged elite with the claim that they are the best people to govern us and therefore should be placed in control. Back in the 19th century that meant defending the aristocracy and its powers. It was what the Conservative Party was about and the Liberal Party was against. The modern form of aristocracy is those who run big business. What is termed “neoliberalism” is about defending them and their powers.

  • Sorry, but Thatcherism was not about empowering big business but about empowering people to use their own abilities to start businesses, or to use their creative energies to, er, create things. Massive decreases in personal taxes led to increased tax revenues as it made taking a risk worthwhile. There was a massive empowerment of the individual, especially those from a poorer background. A lot of that could pass for Liberal policy except some believe the State can wave a magic wand to empower people.

    Yes, later, you had a lot of big companies go rogue and take the [expletive deleted], especially under Blair who was clueless as how to regulate business. When those nationalised companies were set up they were forced into efficiency by having to the cut their pricing for years because Thatcher recognized that left to their own devices you would end up with the current rip-off. It is not the fact that they are nationalised but hopeless regulation that is at fault.

    No argument from me that the current Conservatives are in the pockets of big business and churn out empty rhetoric to appeal to the general public but that has nothing to do with Thatcherism.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 26th Jul '17 - 11:10am

    Palehorse , thank you for that comment, it is really appreciated , as I put a lot of constructive thought into the efforts to contribute , here , and elsewhere , for the party , and politics at laarge.

    Mathew Huntbach is very caustic and understandably on the use of the word neo -liberal’ correctly showing it’s use is equal with national socialist as a way of denigrating others who use it , would not like. Particularly those to the left of the Liberal philosophy, use it to criticise liberals of any hue. If Mathew stopped using the description ,far right, as readily, it would help his case, yes centre right or right wing, but , as much as I weigh in against Thatcherite ideas, many called right wing are , today , being insulted unnecessarily, if , as Palehorse does, we could understand not everyone , or anyone , can be labelled so easily in democratic , broad church parties.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Jul '17 - 12:04pm

    Lorenzo Cherin

    I am old enough to remember that what you call “centre right” would have been regarded as far right extremism – it was not what the bulk of the Conservative Party would have stood for, let alone significant aspects of the Liberal Party.

    In the 1970s, the big political issue was indeed why socialism hadn’t worked, why those countries that had become socialists countries had ended up simply not providing what it was claimed socialism would provide. This was the end of what had been the predominant position in the decades previously, in which political discussion was dominated by socialism, it was supposed that socialism was the inevitable way things would go, and the main political question was how quickly to move that way.

    Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom”, which can be considered the bible of “neoliberalism” was a good attempt at explaining why socialism wasn’t working.

    But I think it is now the other way round. Socialism came to power as the firmest challenge against orthodox ways of thinking and the power of the elite. However, after a few decades its faults became obvious, and it became lazy, and used as an excuse for the new elite defend their power. What replaced it as the dominant political philosophy, what might have seemed fresh and new when it was first pushed as “Thatcherism” though now it tends to be called “neoliberalism” is just the same. It hasn’t worked in the way those who pushed it said it would, and it has become lazy and complacent, and an excuse to defend the power of the ruling elite.

    What is needed now is the equivalent of Hayek’s “Road To Serfdom” but saying forcefully why what is called “neoliberalism” has ended up providing the opposite to true liberalism. We in the successor to the Liberal Party ought to be doing that, just as we stood up to be an alternative to socialism when that was over-dominant. Instead we seem to be going down the road of saying “we too” to what I still call “Thatcherism” at just the time when its failing is so obvious. That is why, and no wonder, our party is being seen by almost everyone as irrelevant.

  • The EU permits and indeed encourages freedom of move to. It’s only the stupid British who put up with this. Try getting a job in France, for example as a hairdresser. Firstly you need an appropriate qualification, which means a French qualification which you’ve probably guessed already is not easy to get and be able to pass their equivalent of IELTS. All we needed to do was to act reciprocally. But the Tories and their big business buddies wanted cheap labour and this almost uncontrolled immigration has managed to turn the reasonably tolerant British into xenophobics in little more than a generation.

  • Expats: I understand that Mrs Merkel is hoping to form a coalition with the Free Democrats after the election in September. They have a similar level of support to our Liberal Democrats, although PR should give them rather more members of the Bundestag.

  • nvelope2003 26th Jul '17 - 1:02pm

    Michael BG: A Government could ensure that everyone has a home and enough money to pay their bills but how can it ensure everyone has a job without creating unnecessary ones ?

  • “The crucial thing about The Brexiteers is that dont have any reasonable points that can be compromised with, they are Nationalists & wrong in every sense, morally wrong as well as irrational & deluded. Any concessions will only encourage them.”

    Thus speaks the LibDems about the majority of our population. Although I didn’t vote to leave myself some of my family did. People who I have loved for decades and whose opinion I respect and trust knowing that they would have carefully thought through their choice.

    However, the above is how they are regarded by this party so it is little wonder that 94 voters in every 100 ignore it. What is obvious is the fury and rage that the Remain and social zealots offer to those who disagree with them. If you have so much disrespect for the people around you, you can’t expect much back.

  • Sue Sutherland 26th Jul '17 - 1:11pm

    OK so Bill has joined us in spite of his right wing views. It’s obvious from his post that he needs educating in what Liberalism is about. He thinks we’d be quite happy to abandon our Liberal principles in order to remain in the EU. His view of the state is still Thatcherite but he probably can’t help that at the moment, poor chap. So instead of panicking about this infiltrator let’s get a dialogue going and try to convince him that our way is better. We are going to have to do this if we are to get any higher in the polls. If people are joining us because of our stance on the EU we can convert them into true Lib Dems although it will be a struggle if Bill is anything to go by!
    I spent the Thatcher years fighting against her policies and the blind worship of the market which her followers practised. However, sometimes I find myself wishing that May was as clever a politician as Thatcher was. Thatcher managed to bring us physically closer to the rest of Europe through the channel tunnel while at the same time convincing the country that she was bravely fighting the EU and keeping her right wing colleagues on board. Quite a balancing act.
    However, Bill, she destroyed traditional industries without providing alternatives, many people are still waiting for a bit of the wealth a few people have to ‘trickle down’ to them and now her right wing colleagues have won, so more people will need “the state” to help them. Of course, for me as a Lib Dem the state is merely an expression of community and it is a community which helps those who have fallen on hard times by using money which I and many others give for just this purpose.

  • nvelope2003 26th Jul '17 - 1:11pm

    David Raw: I think many Liberal Democrats will be surprised to learn that the party no longer believes in free markets, open competition, consumer choice and free trade or is that just your opinion ? Maybe you are in the wrong party.

  • Sue Sutherland 26th Jul '17 - 2:50pm

    Nvelope2003. Isn’t this exactly what we as a party have to decide? In Thatchers’ day quite a few Tories thought the market was a combination of the tooth fairy and Santa Claus and could do no wrong, as well as giving money to the deserving rich. I certainly don’t support that view of the market but wish to see regulation to protect the consumer, for example, and a safety net for people working in failing industries.
    We have to define what we mean when using terms that others may use with a completely different take on them.

  • nvelope2003 26th Jul '17 - 3:25pm

    Sue Sutherland: Of course there has to be proper regulation to prevent abuses and protect people’s rights but David Raw seemed to be saying that these basic Liberal principles were out of date even before 1905. If that is so what exactly is liberalism ? I thought the whole point was to provide a progressive alternative to Socialism and Conservative policies.

    There is already unemployment and redundancy pay for those working in industries which close down. Are there any people who seriously oppose this provision ?

  • nvelope2003 26th Jul ’17 – 12:37pm……………….Expats: I understand that Mrs Merkel is hoping to form a coalition with the Free Democrats after the election in September. They have a similar level of support to our Liberal Democrats, although PR should give them rather more members of the Bundestag…..

    Sorry, but I fail to see the relevance of your post….In 2010 we formed a coalition with David Cameron; the leader of a party that Nick Clegg said we didn’t have, “anything to disagree on”…How did that pan out?

    I am with David Raw and Matthew Huntbach i wondering why someone who is an avowed supporter of Thatcher’s policies, or someone who’s only difference with the Conservative right is a ‘tiff’ over Hard/Soft brexit, should want to join the LibDems…Big fish/Small pond comes to mind in the second case…

  • Shaun Whitfield 26th Jul '17 - 3:57pm

    Bill Fowler: “And there is no freedom in depending on the State…”
    Try telling that to JK Rowling or Alan Bennett, or the 93% of children who attend state funded schools, or millions of others who have benefited positively from the support of the State.

    By the way, like Vince Cable, did you support the introduction of the large fee payable to take a case to an Employment Tribunal, now ruled to be unlawful by the Supreme Court?

  • @ envelope2003 Ah ! So now we’ve got it down from I was saying to…. I seemed to be saying.

    As with a one legged milking stool – you’re missing something, Mr Envelope : The Party Preamble

    “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”.

    Now, I know it’s sometimes said that ‘In the Kingdom of the Blind the one eyed man is King’, but maybe a visit to Specsavers would avoid you falling off your one legged stool and spilling all the milk.

    It’s also a bit naughty to say I’m in the wrong party. You’ll upset Lorenzo and he’ll be coming on to scold you.

  • jayne Mansfield 26th Jul '17 - 4:12pm

    @ Shaun Whitfield,

    The findings that the coalition government’s introduction of tribunal fees is illegal is a massive victory for justice. Well done to the trade unions, Labour and the Green party.

    I am utterly flummoxed as to why the `liberal Democrat Party is puzzled by their lack of support from many like myself who once thought they were on the side of social justice.

  • Julian Heather 26th Jul '17 - 4:59pm

    Bill Fowler – as someone who has been a party member for 45 years, can I welcome you on behalf of the majority of Lib Dem members. It is very sad that the first two comments were so unwelcoming, and dismissive. Please be assured that these two people are not representative of the Party, and are just part of a small clique who dominate LDV comments, and are the reason why so many ordinary members do not now take LDV seriously. There are alot of Lib Dem Forums such as Lib Dem Newbies which do not try and put down other members who disagree with their particular viewpoint. I suggest you are best spending your time there, and ignoring the many LDV comments of the type below, which tend to be toxic and vitriolic

    @jayne Mansfield 25th Jul ’17 – 10:34am
    ‘ As a fan of Mrs Thatcher, it might seem odd that I have joined the Liberal Democrats’.
    Sadly, not odd at all Bill.

    @David Raw 25th Jul ’17 – 10:37am
    Sadly, in the light of recent experience, I have to agree with Jayne.

  • Nick Collins 26th Jul '17 - 5:22pm

    Julian Heather, who elected you to speak on behalf of the majority of LibDem members?

    As someone who first joined the Liberal Party in 1962 and left the Liberal Democrats in 2011, may I say that , if yours, rather than those of Jayne Mansfield and David Raw, is now the authentic voice of the party then that is not the party which I joined and, clearly, I was right to cease my membership when I did but wrong to vote for it on 8 June this year.

  • Steve Trevethan 26th Jul '17 - 5:35pm

    If Thatcherism is the same as Austerity aka. Fiscal Consolidation, it does not work for the general benefit of the economy and the citizenry plus their families. Even the IMF says so in this article.

  • @ Julian Heather Don’t you think Mr Fowler was trailing his coat somewhat starting his first article by saying he was a fan of Mrs Thatcher……. and then going on to patronise Vince Cable by saying he talked sense most of the time ? Or do you think that’s OK. ?

    Imagine a new officer joining his battalion in WW1 and saying in the Mess he was a fan of the Kaiser and patronising the Colonel ? Bad form, Sir, and not the most subtle way to introduce himself. The principle applies to most organisations.

    Second I’m not part of any clique. I’ve never met Nick Collins, Jayne Mansfield or Mr Huntbach and don’t even know where they live. As a member since 1960 I speak for myself – although I admit the direction of the Party since 2007 (in performance and policy) has not best pleased me. You could describe it as the blkand leading the bland.

  • @ Bill Fowler

    It is good to read that you support some of our policies as well as universal income (hopefully keeping the extra benefits for those with long-term illnesses and disabilities). I think liberals should be neutral on the size of the government and take a pragmatic view – the size of government needed to maximise liberalism. Local government should not be arrogant; it should be representative of its community.

    I like the idea of taxing turnover, because we need to look at other taxes than just Income Tax and National Insurance.

    Do you really think that those who are fickle or make bad decisions should be less free than those who are not fickle and who only make successful decisions? Do you think that those who have few economic resources should be less free than those with large amounts of economic resources? It is a shame you didn’t answer my earlier questions.

    Thatcherite economics produced mass unemployment to reduce the power of those in employment or looking for work and to benefit those who employed people. This included big business. The poorest in society were not empowered, they became the disillusioned and the disengaged. The modern underclass was created while Thatcher was Prime Minister.

    @ nvelope2003

    I would like the government to manage the economy to ensure that fewer than 3% of the working age population are unemployed at the height of the “bloom” and to be the employer of last resort. This should not create any unnecessary jobs.

    Liberals in the past never supported “free markets” they recognised the need to regulate markets and brought in many regulations in the nineteenth century, they supported regulated markets.

    @ Palehouse

    7% of those who voted Leave voted Liberal Democrat in June.

  • jayne Mansfield 26th Jul '17 - 7:06pm

    @ Julian Heather,
    I was being honest.

    I would argue that Mrs Thatcher could not only claim responsibility for Tony Blair but for numerous Liberal Democrats too. It is why , despite there being so many stalwarts on here whose values I can relate to, I can no longer vote Liberal Democrat.

    I welcome everyone to my home. Nevertheless, I don’t feel constrained in disagreeing with them, especially when in my opinion, their views and behaviour causes harm to those least able to defend themselves. If I am impolite or offensive, or make too many posts, it is up to the editors to block my posts.

    Where is your evidence that it is the frequent posts of a small clique that is the reason that so few people take LDV seriously? Have you undertaken a questionnaire?

    I still consider myself to be a Liberal, something that is apparent to anyone who has followed what I do, not what I say. It seems that some so called ‘Liberals’ just can’t stand disagreement.

  • Bill,

    these are a couple of quotes from former Libdemleaders. The first may accord with your views, the second perhaps not so much.

    “The state owned monopolies are among the greatest millstones round the neck of the economy…Liberals must stress at all times the virtues of the market, not only for efficiency but to enable the widest possible choice…Much of what Mrs Thatcher and Sir Keith Joseph say and do is in the mainstream of liberal philosophy.” Jo Grimond, 1980.

    “I kind of see Tony Blair the way I see the Stone Roses, I preferred the early work.
    Tony Blair’s government gave us the national minimum wage. It gave us working tax credits. It gave us NHS investment and a massive school building programme.
    I disagree with him a lot, but I will not criticise him for those things. I admire him for those things. I respect him for believing that the point of being in politics is to get stuff done, and you can only get stuff done if you win.” Tim Farron, 2016

    These two quotes encapsulate the divergent views of a party that has merged the philosophies of Liberalism and Social Democracy and is still finding its way in a fast changing world. These philosophies are first and foremost concerned with freedom of the individual and social justice – the issues you are concerned with.

    “There is a body of socio-economic truth that incorporates the best insights of both capitalism and socialism, This ‘middle way’ is the philosophy of Henry George.” Robert V. Andelson, Auburn University.”

  • Bill Fowler 27th Jul '17 - 3:30am

    I have joined the Lib Dems, I support its policies and I am not trying to turn the Lib Dems into an outpost of Thatcherism, I merely mention in passing that I am a fan of Mrs Thatcher and how strange it is that I have ended up here. I find Vince Cable more fierce in taking on Labour than most Tories BTW and that is a jolly good thing IMO.

    So there is such a strong dislike of the idea amongst Liberals of a residence test that they would not swallow a little pride if it meant staying in the EU, the only context in which the idea is offered as a possible way back into the game? There is a further twist to the idea that would appeal to hardcore Labour supporters in a way the Lib Dems have never managed before but it would not be for the faint-hearted so I will keep it back for the moment, just see if anything evolves out of the original idea for I think there has been enough noise made for it to make the passing attention of those who could act upon it.

  • Sue,
    “However, Bill, she destroyed traditional industries without providing alternatives, ”

    I disagreed with many of Thatcher’s actions but she had help in destroying traditional industries. I started in one as a bright eyed graduate mechanical engineer. ‘Sunny Jim’ was PM at the time and this factory had been making heavy engineering products for 100 years. I soon realised that nothing happened, on the shop floor, without the consent of the Convenors who, I presume, thought their workplace was eternal and immortal.

    The site is now a retail park and on the exact spot where our workshop was is an Audi dealership.

  • Steve Griffiths 27th Jul '17 - 9:21am

    Bill Fowler

    I am happy to welcome you and all converts into the party if they truly are converts. You and many others on this thread have discussed Thatcher and Thatcherism, which many see principally as a ‘catch-all’ expression for hard right economic policies. I think it was more than this and am inclined to agree with commentators such as Peter Riddell, who saw Thatcherism as an amalgamation of feelings and prejudices, rather than a coherent ideology and Peter Jenkins who saw it as merely suburban prejudice; Britain’s perceived decline conveniently blamed on a multitude of bogeys from trade union power to inflationary economic policies to permissiveness and declining family standards.

    Those of us who lived through and were politically active during her premiership saw it all just that way. Like Matthew Huntbach and others, I joined the then Liberal party to fight that style of politics with every fibre of my being. We see something today very similar in UKIP, sections of the current Tory party (and I have to say there have been some echoes of it recently in Cleggism). I found the then preamble to the party constitution that others have referred to above that “None shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance and conformity” profoundly moving and neatly encapsulating everything I believed in. (It was sadly and unnecessarily adulterated at the time of the merger with the more rightward leaning SDP).

    I see no place for Thatcherite suburban prejudice in the Lib Dems.

  • Steve,
    “bogeys from trade union power ”
    You can believe what you like but my experience was first hand in traditional heavy engineering in the time of ‘Sunny Jim’.
    Any attempt at improving productivity was thwarted. It was the time when Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine tools were arriving.
    The company bravely bought one. It was immediately “blacked”.
    Do you know what the word “blacked” meant?
    It stood idle for months. Eventually it had to be manned up to the same levels as the capstans AND extra payments made to all “the members”.
    Needless to say further investment was there none.
    Note this is pre-Thatcher. She could not be blamed for the demise of this bastion of British engineering losing market share and eventually giving up the fight.

  • Nonconformistradical 27th Jul '17 - 9:51am

    “I disagreed with many of Thatcher’s actions but she had help in destroying traditional industries. I started in one as a bright eyed graduate mechanical engineer. ‘Sunny Jim’ was PM at the time and this factory had been making heavy engineering products for 100 years. I soon realised that nothing happened, on the shop floor, without the consent of the Convenors who, I presume, thought their workplace was eternal and immortal.”


    “Any attempt at improving productivity was thwarted. It was the time when Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine tools were arriving.
    The company bravely bought one. It was immediately “blacked”.
    Do you know what the word “blacked” meant?
    It stood idle for months. Eventually it had to be manned up to the same levels as the capstans AND extra payments made to all “the members”.”

    I remember it well. But I would also suggest that management practices at all levels of the UK economy contributed to the extreme ‘them and us’ culture and conflict which seemed commonplace then – and which I perceive still exists now e.g. in the ongoing rail disputes.

  • I keep getting this vision of a new Labour government reopening the coal mines, having one set of miners digging out the coal, another set burying it (no use for it in the Green Energy World) and so on, whilst a new department of well paid bureaucrats monitor the process…

    Then a Tory government coming in, closing it all down but reassuring everyone that Chinese investment is just around the corner… ideal place to put their nuclear waste!

  • I agree it is important that it is seen that immigrants don’t receive better conditions than residents. After all, in any job there is an “induction” period when you have to prove yourself. It must be carefully explained prior to coming so that expectations are managed.

  • nvelope2003 27th Jul '17 - 1:05pm

    The trouble with most of those who post on here is that they are mischief makers who cannot see any point of view other than their own. At least the Morning Star and the Socialist Worker represent a coherent ideology, even if it is misguided. We have a Labour Party which represents those who want to be better off and a Conservative Party which does that for those who are already better off but there is no party which represents the rest except for middle class idealists who talk a lot but reject every practical means of dealing with problems and talk about milking stools instead.

    I despair of all this and it is no wonder the party is almost irrelevant. In 2015 most of those who had previously voted Liberal Democrat went over to UKIP and the Conservatives and stayed there in 2017. Those groups who did not normally bother to vote went to Labour in 2017 in order to get a refund of their tuition fees. Not sure there is much space for the Liberal Democrats now.

  • @ Bill Fowler

    There are many members of the party who take a “fundamentalist view” of the free movement of people in the EU without wanting to balance it against the detrimental effects it has on social coherence and wages. However some of us think we need to modify our position. A five year accumulated residency in the UK for out and in work benefits (and for a future Citizens Income) might well be appealing to some voters. We might put less people off by not using the term “open Britain” and instead use “liberal Britain” which means the same without implying Britain should be open for everyone in the world to come and live here.

    While attacked Labour nationally appeals to you, it is historically a bad election tactic, as we do better when there is an anti-Conservative swing. This shouldn’t surprise anyone as historically we were the opposition to the Tories and then the Conservatives.

  • NonconformistRad,
    I’m sorry to disagree but I don’t accept equal blame on British managements. Not that I was a manager, I was only a very junior engineer. But they were trying to survive and advance the enterprise (and made some mistakes).
    I was given two other tasks as well as my normal production engineering. One was to work with the local University to add some science to the craftmanship in the factory and the other was to work with the machinists to generate improvements together, in harmony with the ‘hands on’ staff. I think it was called Quality Circles but it was the mid seventies and my memory may be faulty there.
    The lads loved being included and asked for their ideas. We were making great progess until one day the convenors walked in to our meeting. They said we were threatening jobs and that these meetings were banned. They instructed the lads to leave their notes and walk out. The lads looked sheepish and embarrassed but did as they were told.
    The University ideas were also great but using words like “efficiency” and “productivity” could get you officially ostracised and even banned from the shop.
    So this management tried to save the business but it was no use and they gave up the fight. But my main point was that this was in the reign of Callaghan and not Thatcher.

  • David Evans 27th Jul '17 - 4:17pm

    It is so interesting to read yet another article on LDV that essentially says “If things only work out exactly as I want, the future for Liberal Democracy will be fantastic.” So forward looking, so inspirational and so typical. If we had a thousand extra votes for every article of this type over the last seven years, we would probably only need another twelve million and truly the next prime minister would be a Lib Dem.

    So all we need is some bright spark to find a magic lib Dem ballot paper tree and we can all bask in the sunlight.

    Until then it’s back to the traditional ways that do deliver – lots of effort working for your community.

  • Nonconformistradical 27th Jul '17 - 4:22pm


    “I’m sorry to disagree but I don’t accept equal blame on British managements. ”

    Perhaps you could go back and read my post and point out just where I attributed EQUAL blame on British managements please. Because I cannot see that I did so – I referred to management practices contributing to the extreme ‘them and us’ culture…

  • David,
    You must be right in that it took decades of patient work to achieve the peak recently (‘ish) reached by the LibDems. But a debate on whether that could be repeated must be allowable?
    There may not be the activists with the time to spare these days. My elder sister (70 this year) was a devout Lib activist and even dragooned me into handing out leaflets. But that was then. My own children seem to work all the hours and couldn’t even if they wanted to work for a political cause.
    Worse still, would the motivation be there anyway? The 30+ years of intense effort led to no higher than 10% of the HoC and 240 seats short of a majority.
    The question must be will there be an army of footsloggers go through that again for those results?
    Again, it must be worth the debate?
    My own view is that we are in a state of political turbulence and a new offering may be contrived which might, just might, galvanise the public mind.
    It’s worth talking about.

  • Rad,
    I apologise. I thought the “them and us” point inferred equal culpability but you are correct it does not, necessarily, mean that.

  • Bill Fowler 28th Jul '17 - 8:32am

    Lib Dems now have to shape every policy to ruthlessly put the individual ahead of Big State and Big Business, ridiculing the former as Labour’s attempt to bankrupt the country and the latter as the running the Conservatives. Repeat several hundred times it might actually get through to the voters. I have done a little piece on how to rein in the greed of the energy companies that may turn up on here, for instance, that would be a vote winner in the sense it puts the voter first… but you have to do that in every area, every policy.

    The good thing is that the voters have become rather fickle so anything could happen. with the right leader with the right policies…

  • expats: The point I was trying to make was that Mrs Merkel is more interested in the value of a political party than how many votes it gained. The Liberal Democrats are the only party which is unambiguously and enthusiastically in favour of Britain’s remaining in the EU. I am almost certain the EU would not want it to disappear as there is always a chance it could revive given the right circumstances, although things look a bit bleak at the moment. This might be due to leadership issues but mainly due to the misguided policy of joining a coalition with the Conservatives in 2010, even though there was not really much alternative. The left have, sometimes unfairly, claimed the party failed to stand up to the Conservatives effectively but the Conservative victory in the 2015 election was largely the result of former Liberal Democrat voters switching to the Conservatives or UKIP. The idea that the Liberal Democrats are not really left wing enough does not bear close scrutiny.

    I would not think that the Lib Dems should reject support from those who have changed some of their opinions or who feel that their former party has moved away from them. If no one changes their allegiance the party will disappear. It is very unusual for both major parties to support the same side of the most important political debate for decades when it has divided the electorate down the middle.
    There must surely be a change in this unrealstic situation at some stage unless the Leave supporters abandon their more extreme stance, which of course they might conceivably do, then it will be problematic for the future of our party.

  • David Raw: The Party Preamble could be supported by the majority of people in all parties, apart from the extreme right. People want to know what makes the Liberal Democrats different. I think they are quite happy with the Labour Party they already have.

    I did not see many milking stools around even when I was a child. I would think they only exist in museums and film sets now. Not sure these idees fixes are much help, especially ones that are completely out of date.

  • David Evans 28th Jul '17 - 1:13pm

    nvelope, I am afraid you are totally mistaken. In depth analysis by electoral calculus showed that the Lib Dems lost net support to all other parties in 2015. However, of the 24% in their sample that self identified as Lib Dem voters in 2010, 7% (net) went to Labour, 2% went Green, and 1% Scot Nat. Only 3% went Con and 2% UKIP.

    We lost twice as many voters to left of centre parties as we lost to the right.

    I’m afraid your close scrutiny appears to be more like unfounded opinion.

  • David Evans 28th Jul '17 - 1:28pm


    The Liberals spent about 30 years hoping that something would turn up in the first half of the 20th Century and instead plummeted from 158 MPs down to 6. Then Jo Grimond came along and gave us an objective “to march towards the sound of gunfire.” We did that for the next 40 years and fought our way back to 62 MPs. After that we spent 5 years in coalition and 2 years out of it again hoping something would turn up.

    The evidence is there. If today’s new generation (and I don’t know if you are one or not) are not prepared to put in the effort, good things will not just fall into their laps, but will be lost.

    As a wiser man than me once said “Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves.”

    A lot of liberal freedom has been allowed to slip away.

  • @ David Evans Don’t bother him with numbers or the rules of gravity, David. All you’ll get back is a knee jerk response that you’re a middle class idealist. His most self revealing comment was “The trouble with most of those who post on here is that they are mischief makers who cannot see any point of view other than their own”. Aye, well, mirror, mirror on the wall.

    Agree with your summary on the effects of the coalition on the party’s fortunes. and of the hard graft so many of us put in over nearly fifty years to build it up. He doesn’t get it that those of us who stuck with the party despite what became of the legacy we built up are pretty furious, and he doesn’t get it that Tory lite policies between 2010-15 virtually destroyed its identity.

  • David,
    What you say must be correct. My point was that another 40 years of hard work for 10% of the HoC is a deal this generation will not buy. Certainly my limited spare time won’t be wasted on any cause I perceive to be lost and I continue to be disappointed by the response the likes of Bill and Humphrey get for pieces which simply ask whether there is a strategy to excite the public. They are quickly set upon and denounced as not ‘true’ liberals by those who hold up Jeremy Corbyn as the liberal role model.
    I would have thought constructive responses and argument building was the correct response for this phase of the party’s fortunes.
    The nation needs a new, energetic and ambitious political movement. The LibDems are capable of being that with fresh thinking and clear eloquence. However, too many, within its ranks seem to see it as a cross between a leaderless Kibuttz and a social club and use it as a vehicle to parade their spotless consciences before the world.
    The nation needs answers to problems that are complex, not simple and the party has the people who could construct those answers if those with the megaphones could switch them off, for a moment.

  • Joseph Bourke 28th Jul '17 - 2:43pm


    “The question must be will there be an army of footsloggers go through that again for those results?”

    When there is good cause, young people will mobilise as they are now in Venezuela or as the momentum group has done within the Labour party.

    I think It is more likely to happen online in forums like facebook than the old methods of churning our leaflets for the recycle bin – that’s progress and good for the environment.

    Vince Cable’s political journey started as a labour councillor in Glasgow. He joined the breakaway SDP and the Liberal Democrats as the old Liberal Party and SDP merged. He is a man of the left, just as Jo Grimond was, but firmly in the social democratic mould.

    To be relevant, Libdems have to be able to win the big arguments of the day on the future of the country. These bread and butter issues are constants – the market economy, NHS, Education, Housing, Energy, Defence, Law and Order, Britain’s place in Europe and the wider world and the environment.

    To win these arguments it is necessary to express and maintain a cohesive worldview grounded in a base of core values centered on freedom of the individual and social justice, as expounded in the preamble to the constitution. In doing so, policies and election platforms will both express and reinforce the core message.

    We should not be reluctant to harness the power of the market to improve standards of living or to intervene and control where monopolies and market failure are the cause of social harm. The question is not whether some activities are best run by the private sector or public sector, but what is the more efficient solution for the social good.

  • Joseph,
    I found your response constructive and helpful and free of any form of sneering. You are correct in that real world answers need to be found in all those areas but they need to be new, fresh ideas and looking forward, not back. ‘More money for the NHS’ is easy to say but is that a blank and ever increasing cheque, no matter how costs rise?
    Our nation is in desperate need of a new party or an old one with new thinking and constructive debate is the only path to such.

  • jayne Mansfield 28th Jul '17 - 3:04pm

    @ David Evans,
    Every local Liberal Democrat councillor or candidate that I knew, I voted for, including post 2010. I knew what they stood for and I knew that they worked hard for community. Unfortunately there is no longer any Liberal Democrat Borough Councillor representing my borough.

    I also voted for Edward Macmillan Scott in 2014, only to see this decent ( former conservative) man lose his place in the European Parliament to a UKIP candidate. Again it is knowledge of the individual and what they stand for that over-rides what happened during the coalition years.

    Your views most closely relate to my personal experience about how the party was built up and sustained, but now that local representatives have been lost, it is going to be more difficult for voters like myself, to determine just what any new Liberal Democrat council candidate stands for.

    There are many on here, yourself included, that I would have no problem voting for, but the diversity and divergence of views within the party means that, for me at least, long held allegiances have been broken, and it will be hard to make a judgement about how a candidate interprets the values set out in the preamble. I am unsure how people like yourself, Bill Le Breton at al, can rectify that from a now decimated base in the community.

  • David Evans 28th Jul '17 - 3:06pm

    Palehorse, You may well be right that “another 40 years of hard work for 10% of the HoC is a deal this generation will not buy,” but it was a deal previous generations of liberals were prepared to give to. It is their choice

    My parents were liberals from the late 1930s onwards, a time when it was deeply unfasionable to be a liberal. and for much of it up to the 1970s they were unsuccessful. The problem was that too many liberals were happy to be a party of the comfortably well off middle classes who had a bit of a social conscience. As a result, they spent too much time over afternoon tea discussing just how awful it was for those Jarrow marchers and insufficient time doing anything about it. My parents realised that this was the problem, but what they did was keep the liberal flame alive so that when that new generation of activists came along there was a party to they could work with to take things forward.

    As I have said, if the new generation expect things to be easy or just want to spend their time on the internet discussing how bad things are, things will continue to decline.

    Bearing in mind where we are electorally, there might not be a party there when the next Jo Grimond comes along.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Jul '17 - 4:30pm

    Excellent posts from Joe Bourke and Palehorse, a good level of co operation and common ground.

    I understand David Evans with his points about the damage to the reputation of our party and need for effort, but Joe is correct in his view , about new or modern ways to reach people, as is Palehorse on the possibility of a new movement we are at the centre of.

    The worry is that people associate us as a busted flush or tainted brand. I do not think it right , but we need to face it.

    There has been talk of new parties, that seems to be dormant , add to that the protection of good majorities by mps in other parties, and the only new centre or centre left party , has to be led by us, and we must face the lack of enthusiasm for trapsing for no results in a hurry, in an era when movements and reputations change overnight.

    Cue Podemos, Trump, Macron , Corbyn et al.

  • @ Palehouse
    “Our nation is in desperate need of a new party or an old one with new thinking”

    I am not sure there is any evidence for this. However we should have radical policies to solve the problems we face, which have at the heart of them increasing the liberty and freedom of people. It does not matter if they are brand new or old ones that worked in the past but are no long the orthodoxy. What matters is that we think they are the correct answer to solve the problem.

  • Bill Fowler 29th Jul '17 - 8:54am

    “we should have radical policies to solve the problems we face, which have at the heart of them increasing the liberty and freedom of people”

    That will be very appealing to a lot of Conservative voters annoyed with the current lot letting Big Business get away with murder, not sure it will appeal to people on benefits. Radical reform of the taxation system to enable the above needs to be added, Vince Cable has for instance hinted that capital gains will be treated as taxable income but why not include dividends, inherited money et al… and why not stop huge sums disappearing in pension contributions relief and even charity contributions (given that the net amount of the contribution to reach the actual recipient is often less than 20 percent whilst the tax relief my be 40 percent that could be better used for essential services in the UK).

  • nvelope2003 29th Jul '17 - 1:01pm

    David Evans: The figures from electoral calculus are interesting but if Labour gained 7% of 2010 Lib Dem voters in 2015 why did their vote only increase by about 1%. The 2% for the Greens is about right and also the 1% to the SNP. The problem with this analysis is that it does not reflect what happened in actual constituency results.
    Here the Conservatives made huge gains in former Liberal Democrat seats where it seems from the figures that former Liberal Democrat voters switched en mass to the Conservatives or UKIP. It is true that many former Liberal Democrat voters switched to Labour in the small number of seats where Labour was the main challenger and also in some seats where the Liberal Democrats were not a serious contender so we saw their vote drop from 15% to about 2 % and fell even further in 2017. However in a number of seats the Liberal Democrat vote actually rose in 2017.

    David Raw: I specifically stated that the main reason for the party’s failure was the misguided coalition with the Conservatives which I knew was a mistake from day one and I was one of the few people who said the Conservatives would win the 2015 election and the Lib Dems would lose most of their seats which they did.
    I find most of the contributions here interesting and thoughtful. Perhaps you should concentrate on reading or trying to understand what people write or say before jumping to conclusions which may be unwarranted. Mirror mirror on the wall but was it a milk maid who was looking at it – no.

  • nvelope2003 29th Jul '17 - 3:28pm

    In 1997 Tony Blair offered a centrist agenda which attracted voters tired of 18 years of Conservative rule but some former Labour supporters became disillusioned especially after the Iraq war and turnout dropped. Others turned to the Liberal Democrats when they appeared to offer a more radical agenda. How can they offer a more radical agenda than Jeremy Corbyn without alienating centrist voters ? In places like North Dorset where the Liberals or Lib Dems had been either 1st or 2nd since 1885 the Labour vote has soared (to second place) since the LDs lost 2nd place to UKIP in 2015 but so has the Conservative vote. In the Blandford Central council by election last Thursday Labour came within 3 votes of winning and had a threefold increase in their vote, the Conservatives almost doubled their vote and the LDs got almost the same vote and came third despite almost winning before. There was no Independent this time.
    Yet in other places things are different. We are experiencing a change in the electoral map. Support has fallen in the older strongholds which have filled up with retired people and risen in other places such as SW London, Bath etc. Eastbourne is a bit of a mystery – maybe down to the candidate.

  • @ Bill Fowler
    “That will be very appealing to a lot of Conservative voters annoyed with the current lot letting Big Business get away with murder, not sure it will appeal to people on benefits.”

    Controlling powerful big business is part of liberalism. I have no idea why people on benefits would reject radical solutions, such as ending sanctions, introducing a Citizens Income, the government becoming the employer of last resort, taking helping people find work away from Jobcentres and giving it to district and unitary councils and adding a requirement for them to assist those not working find fulfilling things to do.

    Dividends received by shareholders is taxable income. Taxing inherited money and assets as income does appeal to me. I would be interested in looking at the affects across the spectrum of money and assets bequeathed.

  • John Littler 29th Jul '17 - 5:05pm

    Unless FPTP voting goes to be replaced by PR ( NOT AV), there seems no place for the LibDems ever to succeed on a centre right position. It will neither be able to overcome the huge overpowering position of the Tories on the right and will certainly just be written off as Tory lite, by the left and centre left.
    I realise that The EU was the source of Vince Cable’s need to privatise the Royal Mail to promote efficient trade and competition and that he chose the favourable John Lewis model, but that issue will come back to bite Vince and the LibDems for a long time with potential voters in the centre and left.

  • John Littler 29th Jul '17 - 5:55pm
  • Bill Fowler 30th Jul '17 - 7:59am

    Dividend money, I far as I can recall, comes out of taxed company money and is then taxed at 20 percent but does not get taxed higher for higher rate tax payers nor get done for NI. It was supposed to be taxable income but in reality does not seem to be fully treated as such by the Revenue thus there is plenty of opportunity to reduce tax by getting paid via dividends rather than salary for company owners. Been a while since I have run a company but that use to be one of the big selling points of having a company rather than being self-employed. At the very least, tax should be increased to reflect that it is a way of avoiding NI (both personal and company contributions). There seem to be enough loopholes in the tax system that there is no need for the political suicide of a general increase in personal taxation.

  • Bill Fowler 30th Jul '17 - 8:08am

    Citizen’s income, to be affordable, would have to be set at £3000-£4000 for adults, half that for children and twice it for pensioners but would mean getting rid of the whole benefits system (except for housing and disability payments) and gutting the tax allowances down to a token amount of tax relief for pensions and charities. Everyone who could would be expected to top it up by working at least a little and paying tax on that income… this would come as shock to quite a large segment on benefits (20 percent?) who have got used to a free ride and the idea that they would actually have pay tax as well would be too much for them to cope with. At least it would justify some more govn jobs to deal with the psychological counseling etc.

  • @ Bill Fowler

    If you are correct that dividends are not taxed above 20% then it does indeed need sorting. I am sure lots of us would support National Insurance having to be paid on all income including rent, interest and dividends.

    I don’t think your view regarding those not in work and poor is liberal, it sounds you wish the state to punish people for not being in work and those who are poor. It sounds Tory. A Citizens Income could be introduced so it equals the Income Tax Personal Allowance. (In the long term it needs to be set at the same rate as the pension.) Yes we would need to keep housing benefits and the extra payments for those who are long-term ill or have disabilities. It wouldn’t be right to reduce Job Seekers Allowance or Universal Credit. Both need to be increased in line with inflation and the real value needs to be restored to its 2010 level. You need to recognise that living on Job Seekers Allowance restricts a person’s freedom and we need to fix this.

  • Bill Fowler 31st Jul '17 - 8:01am

    If you want to retain both the benefit system and have a citizens income then you would have to have tax rates at 35-60 percent, another election lost! Having excluded the old and ill from any cuts, not sure how I am punishing the poor because they have the option of getting work in the current economic situation and the citizen’s income would allow them great flexibility as they could dive in and out of work as suits their needs and without running back and forth to job centres with huge hassle of having a complex array of tax credits and benefits continuously adjusted, nor having to limit their work because they are frightened of losing one or another benefit. They would only be worse off if they refused to work and given the high min wage rate would soon rack up fiscal benefits.

    On another note, adjusting benefits or salaries for inflation causes yet more inflation so better off to delink all benefits and government salaries… but have a bonus system that kicks in as soon as the government runs a balanced budget. Sounds mad on the face of it but then everyone in the country, now getting their citizen’s income, would have a stake in a well run State because they would get a cut of the efficiency that resulted. That would be a radical reform worthy of the name and even help democracy which is currently on the edge of being destroyed by parties promising things that can’t be delivered.

  • Richard Underhill 31st Jul '17 - 12:45pm

    “Labour want out of EU because” No, Labour are divided as they openly admit, based on the seats they held before the (first) 2017 general election having voted in the 2016 referendum, in some areas to remain and in others to leave. Their leader claimed to have voted to remain, but with minimal enthusiasm, being asleep, or absent, at key moments in the referendum (All Out War). Corbyn claimed that he wanted the EU to change, but that was not on the ballot paper. Lib Dems also wanted some change, which the EU27 could do with sufficient political will, such as having the European Parliament meet in one place and save a lot of money. An alternative use for the buildings in Strasbourg was not suggested. As we remember the battle of Passchendaele, we should understand that Strasbourg is now a symbol of peace to France and Germany.
    Have a look at First Confession by Chris Patten, former Tory chairman and former EU Commissioner for External Affairs, a Tory pro-european. The book is about identity, including that of a Conservative Catholic in Northern Ireland and EU financing of the Palestinian Authority in the cause of peace.
    Patten’s comments on Ted Heath and Margaret Thatcher in relation to Hong Kong show how individual personalities affect international relations. China gave Ted Heath two pandas because they perceived the UK joining the EEC as creating a balance against USSR-Russia. Nowadays pandas are only lent (leased) and any offspring belong to China from the moment they are born.

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