Welcome to my day: 13 May 2024 – and then there were two…

Natalie Elphicke? Really?

Well, you have to admire whoever it is in Labour who is handling Tory defectors – they’ve managed to smuggle out one of the more unlikely “converts” to their cause. And, if you really wanted to engender a sense of paranoia amongst the Conservative leadership, what better than to recruit someone like Natalie? Is anyone with a blue rosette above suspicion now?

But, beyond the Westminster bubble, how does this look? What message does it send in terms of principles? How big does a “big tent” get to be and still retain any sense of exclusivity?

Now, I do get it. We’ve welcomed a few controversial recruits over the years – I won’t name names and you’ll all have your own ideas – but in most cases, there was a big political principle at stake. And whilst, as I’ve noted in the past, expecting any new recruit to sign up to every dot and comma of our policies is naive at best, it should be reasonable to expect a significant philosophical overlap.

It’s being suggested that there is quite a lot of disquiet within Labour ranks this time. My guess is that Starmer and his team will assume that any rebels will “suck it up” to ensure victory whenever the General Election comes – after all, where else are they likely to go?

Conservatives and Net Zero – wrong and wronger?

I was somewhat surprised this weekend to see a member of Conservative Home’s editorial team support Net Zero. Not in terms of climate change, in terms of immigration.

Yes, that’s a proposal to reduce net migration to zero.

Now I do get it. Conservatives don’t appear to like foreigners much, and work on the basis that migrants are a net burden to the economy. But their virulently anti-migrant message fails to take into account what they’ve done to the workforce and to key industries. For example, discouraging foreign students when your university sector relies on their fee income is beyond stupid unless you’re going to help universities to develop other sources of income and give them time to make the adjustment. And as for care workers, the mature economies are competing for recruits on a global basis. Deterring those who might otherwise come when you already have a significant shortfall isn’t going to help Granny next week or next year.

Don’t Conservatives understand how markets work any more?

Liberals versus authoritarianism

I’ve found out this week that the Party’s Federal International Relations Committee is setting up a sub-committee to consider how liberals might deal with authoritarian regimes. And it’s an issue that has looming importance for democracies everywhere in the face of increasing interference with our civil society by the likes of China and Russia. It’s time that we got on to the front foot in terms of making the case of liberal democracy and I for one look forward to seeing what they come up with.

And what have you done with the real Suella Braverman?

Yesterday, the Conservative MP for Fareham called for the scrapping of the two-child benefit cap. Yes, you read that correctly. And no, she wasn’t calling for a one-child benefit cap.

It is a reminder that there is an undeclared war for the heart of a post-General Election Conservative Party, and that some pretty unexpected alliances will be formed in order to win that contest. It’s also a reminder that, on some policies, we might find ourselves making common cause with Conservatives in the future, no matter how uncomfortable that might make us. But a policy is right or it’s wrong, and if it’s right, you want to implement it if you can.

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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