What happens after 12 December?

It is clear that there are two possible broad outcomes to this General Election. The first is an overall Conservative victory. The second is no party with an overall majority, what the world will call a Hung Parliament.

There’s a subset of them both which is a repeat of 2017 where the Tories as largest party can get to an overall lead with the assistance of the DUP. The Irish borders issue (the main single reason we are now having an election yet almost completely absent from the election debate) may make that more difficult for Johnson though we must remember that the DUP combine two usually incompatible principles – never changing their mind on anything, and rarely refusing a big enough bung.

Putting that on one side, a hung parliament is actually 57 different varieties of confusion, some more resolvable than others. It all depends on the numbers. Quite small changes could make a huge difference in what is possible.

That will depend on both arithmetic and politics. The arithmetic is currently unknown. As for the politics, lots of quite firm things are being said now. But no-one knows what people will decide to do when the numbers are known. While everyone is doing everything they can to get Liberal Democrat votes on 12th December, I do hope some key people in the party are thinking about what happens afterwards! The rest of us, too, need to be prepared.

So what are the possible outcomes? The number needed is 650 divided in half (plus one) – 326. Less the Speakers team who bring it down to 324. Less Sinn Féin absentees, currently seven, which brings the number needed to 620. For every two seats that SF lose the number needed goes up by one (and vice versa). Here is an attempt to make a dispassionate assessment of the possible outcomes which are not all mutually exclusive.

Conservatives largest party. This currently seems likely (short of them getting an overall majority) and it will cause the biggest political headaches for everyone else. How the other parties add up will be crucial.

(1) Labour + SNP add up to enough. Labour do a deal with the SNP for a Labour minority Government and a confidence and supply arrangement (CSA) by conceding a new Scottish referendum within a year. SNP agree to the Corbyn Brexit renegotiation+referendum strategy. Result – a fairly unstable Labour minority Government with a highly uncertain future.

(2) As (1) but only with the support of all or any of Plaid Cymru, Green, SDLP (if any), Uncle Tom Cobley*. Outcome – even with a CSA, an even more unstable Labour minority Government – slightly less unstable if the Government is joined by any or all of PC, Green, SDLP, Uncle Tom Cobley. SNP unlikely to join the Government.

(3) Labour + Liberal Democrat add up to enough so SNP could be sidelined, the Labour Brexit plan carried out (with changes?) but no Scottish referendum before the next Scottish Paliament elections. Arithmetically not likely, but could a CSA ever happen with Corbyn as Leader? Probably about as stable as in (1).

(4) Labour+SNP+Liberal Democrat (possibly with others) add up to enough (but all three needed). Negotiations might take some time…

It is clear that numbers will be important. Deals of any kind between Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrats, Green, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Uncle Tom Cobley*…will be progressively more difficult the closer the Conservatives are to an overall majority.

*By “Uncle Tom Cobley” I mean anyone else who manages to sneak in. eg Alliance in East Belfast, Ulster Unionist (not likely to back Labour), odd Independents here and there (TIG and other Tory renegades, or in other places such as East Devon or Ashfield).

Labour largest party. This does not look likely. But in practice, all the likely options are as above. It will just depend on who they need for an overall majority, either for a CSA or a coalition. Everyone is saying there won’t be a coalition. It does look unlikely for differing reasons – but that’s now. What “Labour largest party” would do is make it very clear that the Tories are out.

There is an important matter which will affect the ability of any minority government to get its legislation through the Commons efficiently and that is the “English votes for English laws” (EVEL) position. This is a complex and little understood procedure forced through by the Tories after 2015. It means that English (or English and Welsh) MPs can veto legislation that only applies to them, which has been passed with the votes of Scottish MPs. If a minority Labour government (or a non-Tory coalition of any kind) relies in practice on SNP votes (and the SNP hold the vast majority of the Scottish seats) there is the prospect of severe disruption of government legislation by English Tories unless the EVEL rules are removed (and imagine the rows over doing that!) There is also the position in the House of Lords where (ludicrously) the SNP are not represented!

The really serious question is this – what happens if the Tories are the largest party but the other parties and Uncle Tom Cobleys cannot or will not do a deal of any kind, either between themselves or with the Tories? Johnson can just carry on as Prime Minister for a while, but sooner or later he will have to face a vote of no confidence in the Commons. If he cannot win that or carry the WAB (Withdrawal Agreement Bill), what happens to the 31st January Brexit deadline, and who will run the country? February General Election, anyone?

* Lord Tony Greaves is the Liberal Democrats Lords Spokesperson for the North of England.

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90 Comments

  • Paul Barker 2nd Dec '19 - 1:41pm

    Going slightly off-topic, something that is likely to happen here is a bad-tempered Post Mortem on our campaign/slogans/targetting etc.
    Can I appeal in advance for a period of quiet reflection & rest ? Lets leave talking about “What went Wrong” till January.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Dec '19 - 2:07pm

    Tony Greaves 2 December 2019 – 12:45
    It is clear that there are two possible broad outcomes to this General Election. The first is an overall Conservative victory. The second is no party with an overall majority.
    It all depends on the numbers.
    This was also debated on BBC2 Politics Live today 2/12/19.
    YouGov were there for the second half of the programme.
    The debate was about whether Labour can get enough seats to prevent Boris getting an overall majority, mainly at the expense of unrepresented Lib Dems.
    YouGov said they will do an MRP poll in Scotland, mainly because of SNP/Conservative marginals. He did not say anything about sample size plans.

  • Ian Patterson 2nd Dec '19 - 2:08pm

    @Paul Barker, we will not be given the luxury of a political omertà post 12 December. Press likely to be baying for answers. Nature abhors a press vacuum.

  • All the Conservative MP’s have signed up to Boris’s deal, unlike previously, so if Con’s were the largest party but short of a few votes then it is quite likely some maverick Labour MP’s would support the deal, especially if no-deal was impending, and Corbyn would grin and bear it in the hope his traditional supporters would come back to him. All those Conservative MP’s who would support an extension are no longer there so it really would be Boris’s deal or no deal this time round.

  • Paul Barker 2nd Dec '19 - 2:55pm

    Sorry, I should have put OFF Topic in Bold.
    I was talking about Us, talking among ourselves, about our Performance. IF theres a Hung Parliament then The Press will be baying for our line, thats why we elect a Leadership, they will be the ones being badgered, poor things.
    No-one else will be interested in our internal debate, there is no rush for us, here on LDV.
    After all, we are still talking about The Coalition, 5 Years after.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Dec '19 - 2:57pm

    Frank West 2nd Dec ’19 – 2:10pm
    All the tory CANDIDATES have signed up for Boris’ ‘proposed’ deal, even if they voted Remain in 2016.

  • “There is also the position in the House of Lords where (ludicrously) the SNP are not represented!”.

    They choose not to be, having the rather old fashioned democratic opinion idea that politicians should be elected. Not much ludicrous about that IMHO.

    The Scotsman 30 December, 2018

    “The Scottish National Party has repeated calls for the abolition of the House of Lords as figures showed that 22 new peers were created in 2018.

    Spokesman Tommy Sheppard MP (Edinburgh East) said it was “inexcusable” that successive governments had continued to make “chummy political appointments” to the Upper House of Parliament, at an annual cost to the taxpayer of £83,000 per peer.

  • We have a Conference in York in the middle of March. I hope that we get rather more useful ideas on how to involve the membership in decisions than wasting time on things like the supporters scheme.

  • David Allen 2nd Dec '19 - 4:48pm

    “Can I appeal in advance for a period of quiet reflection..?”

    No, because “Quiet” is what “loyalist” Lib Dems have always demanded, all of the time, from all the wider members and sympathisers. Leave it to a shadowy group around the leadership. Don’t fret when silly ideas like Revoke emerge from nowhere (from rich donors, perhaps?), to be foisted on the party with as little consultation as possible. Don’t ask questions. Tell everybody that the widespread suspicion that the Lib Dems lean toward the Left while quietly marching to the Right is just a figment of Labour’s imagination. Let clarity on Brexit help to conceal ambiguity on who should run the country. Help Boris by actively endorsing his opportunistic demand for a General Election, and forget about the People’s Vote option. Carefully put a little verbal distance between the present-day Party and the Clegg-Tory Coalition, but don’t burn any bridges, in case the opportunity to join a Tory-led Government might one day arise again.

    Oh and by the way, put out the only manifesto that seriously tackles the nation’s problems without losing all financial credibility. Stand up for the only Europe policy that will get the issue settled and won’t cause recurring crises and penury for decades to come. Corner the market for rational, achievable, forward-looking policies. But then – Don’t bother to look for telling campaigning points, such as the IFS’s declaration that the Lib Dem manifesto is more credible than either the Tory or Labour manifesto. Instead, spend the first two campaigning weeks bleating ceaselessly about being unfairly excluded from a few TV debates, because bleating is such a good vote-winner, isn’t it?

    “Quiet” is at the root of what has gone wrong. “Quiet” is why the Coalition lasted, until it buried its junior partner. “Quiet” isn’t only a negation of democracy. It’s also bad management. It helps mistakes and misjudgments to flourish. It doesn’t work.

  • Mick Taylor 2nd Dec '19 - 5:49pm

    Goodness me, David Allen. A period of quiet reflection was suggested rather than rushing in to pile ordure on those who ran the campaign. No-one is suggestion Tappist like behaviour, but thinking it through before committing it to paper. Bloody hell, it will be Christmas shortly after polling day. You know, season of goodwill and all that.
    As far as I can see from your rant, you’ve already decided your position, so no need to repeat it until the rest of us have had chance to draw breath and think how we respond to a result we have not yet seen.
    Happy Christmas

  • Brian Edmonds 2nd Dec '19 - 6:03pm

    David Allen: for once I couldn’t agree more. It is rapidly becoming clear that the ‘shadowy group around the leadership’ are no substitute for a competent communications operation. Sorry if this sounds unfashionably Campbell-esque, but so far it’s just damp squibs everywhere in place of a clean, clear set of positions; no cogent rebuttal line for the ‘betrayal of democracy’ trope; ‘apologise and move on’ rather than a robust defence of the coalition record; and yes, too much bleating and trying to score political virtue points. I happen to think that ‘Revoke’ is no more than an honest statement of the party’s position, and in fact it was the only conference motion of any weight and cut-through on an otherwise worthy but dismally insipid agenda. David refers to the Clegg era with customary distaste, but forgive me if I feel a tinge of nostalgia – why is it, I wonder, that the likes of Ollie Grender, Miranda Green and Polly McKenzie have all found more urgent business elsewhere?

  • Laurence Cox 2nd Dec '19 - 6:34pm

    Except for the unlikely possibility of a Labour overall majority (2% according to Electoral Calculus) Boris will remain Prime Minister until a new Prime Minister can show that he (or she) has the confidence of the House of Commons. If there is not a new Prime Minister before January 31st then the UK could be Brexiting with no deal by default; it is not obvious that the EU will allow us any further extension, as we have made such a mess of the extensions we have been given.

    Also German politics is getting messier, the SPD look like they are about to withdraw from the Grand Coalition, which could mean new elections there and the end of Merkel. Without the restraining influence of Germany it is likely that the EU will follow the other major power, Macron’s France.

  • My there seems to be a lot of defeatist attitudes on here before the results are even known.
    Ok Liberal Democrats were never going to win a majority, however, they need to start looking at this election in the long term and using this platform now whilst there is media attention and setting out idea’s and ambitions for the long term.

    Example
    (1) Build on the £10k Education budget and do not make it “age restricted” make it available to every adult at any point in their life. There are many people who under achieve at school due to poor circumstances or tragedy restricting their ability to get their full potential from education at that time. We cannot then have people waiting till they are 25, 40 or 55 to be able to have access to funding. We should ensure that GCSE, A-Levels and City Guilds Level 1 & 2 will always be free to any person at any point in their life.
    (2) Make Qualifications for Nursing, Dr’s and Paramedics fully free subject to a 10 year contract with the NHS which only has to be repaid back on a sliding scale if they were to terminate the contract early. We must do something about encouraging more people to go into medicine and to stay working within the NHS instead of going into the private sector or abroad once qualified and heavily subsidised by the tax payer.
    (3) Along with the Increase in raising LHA with average rents, I would make it a requirement for all Private Landlords to have to offer their properties to their local council Private leasing scheme (if they run one) before being able to rent on the open Market, Yes the councils rate is slightly less than the open market, however, the rent is guaranteed as it is the council who is the tenant as are all damages to the property, plus there are no management fee’s etc. We have to do something about the housing shortage especially for social housing and it is going to require much more radical policies.

    The party has thrown everything at this election on brexit and it has not come to fruition so it needs to start using the remainder of what is left of this election whilst peoples attention are turned to politics and there is some media attention on what the parties ambitions are in the long term, get people’s attention now and don’t make it all about Brexit as that has not worked. You need to start reaching out to Voters NOW, catch their attention now, the earlier they get their eye on you the more likely they will want to listen in the future

  • Tony Greaves 2nd Dec '19 - 9:03pm

    Johnson (call him Boris if you like and fall into his trap!) remains PM until he resigns, or fails to win a confidence vote in the Commons in which case the Queen will invite someone else to try to form a Government, or until a no confidence motion is passed under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – when either someone else is able to put together a majority within a fortnight or there is a General Election.

    It is quite possible he will keep going, hold the State Opening on 19th December, and introduce the Withdrawal Agreement Bill into the Commons. The crunch vote might be the Timetable motion which is the point at which any pro-Brexit Labour rebels would have to show their hand. I don’t know how many of such people are left who would be hard-line enough to keep the Tories in power just after a General Election they had failed to win outright. (Some of the most hardline people such as Mann and Stewart have gone).

  • Tony Greaves 2nd Dec '19 - 9:08pm

    By the way I am not “the Liberal Democrats Lords Spokesperson for the North of England”. Vince Cable persuaded me to accept the title against my good judgement but it turned out to be just a useless non-position so I quietly withdrew!

  • I actually liked our manifesto and out of the three main uk wide parties it was and is the best. However i heard very little locally and that was always our strength. We played a good hand badly and made it about brexit at first, when other concerns needed addressing. We are currently being squeezed by labour and our national vote is going down, so hopefully we can do betrer in our targeted seats

  • Laurence Cox 3rd Dec '19 - 9:32am

    @Tony

    The fact remains that if the UK Parliament has not passed the current withdrawal deal before 31st January, then unless there is a further extension from the EU, we will be leaving with no deal on that date. A VONC in a Conservative Government would mean that the 14 days plus 5 weeks for an election campaign would take us past January 31st.

    Effectively, that means that either Johnson’s deal will pass and he will remain Prime Minister, or we will have Prime Minister Corbyn and, depending on numbers, we will have to vote for Corbyn or (at best) abstain. This is exactly the position that Parliament was in in the lead-up to October 31st, but this time there is no guarantee of a further extension from the EU and it is EU law that decides our leaving date.

  • Well said, Matt, at 6.35 just above, urging us to start thinking now about ‘the long term’. For now, I think and hope he means the election to follow this one: potentially soonish, but presumably no more than five years away.

  • David Warren 3rd Dec '19 - 10:34am

    Thank you Tony Greaves for putting into words the scenarios that I go through late at night just before I drop off to sleep.

    I just hope that if we do end up with a hung parliament it eventually leads to the introduction of some form of electoral reform.

  • chris moore 3rd Dec '19 - 11:04am

    I am surprised by some of the pre-mature defeatism of some posters.

    I have always criticised the whole Remain Alliance strategy and was strongly against Revoke. (I am one of the small minority of LD members, who was a “dealer” like Norman Lamb.)

    But I believe we are going to get an OK result. Mid- to high-teens is what we can expect (given we have nothing to say to half the electorate – Leavers.). But that would be a decent result given the institutional bias against us and our own strategic errors.

  • @Roger

    That is exactly what I meant.

    People need to stop being so defeatist now before the results are even known. They need to be using this election campaign and media airtime to set out it’s ambitions for the long term (following election) which as you say will probably be in the next couple of years and hopefully not 5 years.
    While peoples attention is turned to politics, get their attention now, they are then more likely to continue to follow what you say over the next couple of years as you develop your ambitions.
    That has got to be a better tactic than waiting for an election and then trying to reach out to people at the last minute.
    The party needs to start promoting it’s policies and ambitions which are not about Brexit as that has not got peoples attention, the tactics of turning every policy about being dependant on stopping brexit has failed imo.
    The party needs to start now getting more radical on policies like I mentioned earlier, get people interested now and to start following you now and build up on the core vote, that is what is going to win the party more seats and a stronger base in future elections, just concentrating on the remain message is not going to build on the core vote which the party desperately needs for the future and stronger representation in parliament

  • Peter Hirst 3rd Dec '19 - 11:36am

    I don’t think predicting outcomes is particularly helpful; I’d rather watch what happens and look for opportunities to avoid Brexit, especially a no deal one. Our electoral system is ill suited to this and other situations. If we could argue for electoral reform instead of another referendum, we could have a further General Election under a revised system.

  • nvelope2003 3rd Dec '19 - 11:56am

    Peter Hirst: You can argue for electoral reform but I do not think you will get it because the Conservatives and Labour depend on the present system to maintain their duopoly and why would they change it ?
    PR does not always provide stable government. Look at Germany where the Social Democrats have just elected leaders whose policies barely differ from the former Communists because their participation in the coalition with the Christian Democrats has severely damaged both parties and led to the rise of the extreme right AfD and strengthening of the former Communist party, although the Greens have benefitted. A coalition of the SPD, the Left Party and the Greens in Berlin has not proved very beneficial. The same situation in Austria led to a coalition of the centre right and the hard right and that could happen in Germany, and even in Great Britain if Brexit turns out not to be the panacea it was claimed to be.
    Even in Scandinavia the moderat left are in decline and the hard right have gained because of PR.
    Be careful wht you wish for. PR in Scotland did not give much of a boost to the Liberal Democrats in the Scottish Parliament.

  • Peter Hirst 3rd Dec '19 - 12:05pm

    nvelope2003 Ignoring party politics for a moment, the present system is unfair, outdated and illiberal. We could show ourselves above party politics and have a vision of what is best for the country. People are tired of Brexit so let’s talk about something different that we’ve been campaigning for for decades.

  • John Marriott 3rd Dec '19 - 12:53pm

    Being the ‘new kid on the block’ (yes, despite being an active part of the parliamentary mix since the 1970s, most people are still wired into the black and white of two party politics that has been around for centuries), the Lib Dems have yet to learn the lesson of treading carefully. Hate him or not, Blair understood this when he decided to announce that he and New Labour would stick initially to the Tory economic strategy if returned to power after the 1997 General Election. That he chickened out on real reform when FPTP handed him a landslide is another matter.

    This is a Conservative country, certainly as far as England is concerned. That is Conservative with a small ‘c’. It doesn’t like change. It really does like leaders rather than government by committee, or parliament, for that matter – not my view, by the way. If you want change you have got to tread carefully. I won’t get into the ‘revoke’ argument, but I’m sure many would understand what I am getting at. If not, then there really is no chance that we will get anywhere.

  • Paul Barker 3rd Dec '19 - 3:08pm

    The News is not all bad, our average Polling seems to have bottomed out just above 13%. Up till 2 Weeks ago we had been falling steadily for 2 Months.
    Of course 13% sounds terrible compared to the 23% we got in 2010 but its a massive improvement on 2017.
    We have also made progress on concentrating our Vote in some areas which is what we need to do to break through under First Past The Post.
    It was always unlikely that we would Break The Mould at a General Election without coming at lest 2nd in a couple of Local election cycles. For all the Gains, we werent even close to 2nd in May.

  • nvelope2003 3rd Dec '19 - 5:34pm

    Peter Hirst: I was using Brexit as an example of what could go wrong but it could be something else. Yes FPTP is unfair to smaller parties but the Liberals & Liberal Democrats (and other small parties) have campaigned for PR since 1922 without success because a change can only be made by one or both of the 2 larger parties and they will not do it unless they are forced to do so. They would rather lose power for a period than give PR as the price for the support of the Liberal Democrats or any other smaller party unless they considered there was no other way that they could ever come to power again.
    PR would allow extreme right/left wing parties to gain a foothold in the House of Commons. THE BNP, UKIP and the Brexit Party could have had over 100 seats if their supporters felt they had a good chance of getting in. There would need to be some safguards to ensure that the largest party could be in Government, such as those used in Greece, without having to seek the support of extremists to gain a majority as happened in Germany.

  • John Marriott 3rd Dec '19 - 6:39pm

    @nvelope2003
    There is an easy way of making sure that parties need to get a specific percentage of the popular vote before they get any MPs. Since 1953 Germany has what is called the ‘Sperrklausel’. This means that a party must get at least 5% of the popular vote before it gets any MPs. Half of its MPs are elected like ours in constituencies. The other half are returned based on a Party list, as we do in the EU parliamentary elections.

    The Lib Dems’ sister party in Germany, the FDP, usually gets all its MPs via the list method and has on at least one occasion failed to overcome the 5% hurdle. As for MPs from extremist parties being ‘elected’, my view is that, if their party can get over 5%, then they should be allowed representation.

  • Laurence Cox 3rd Dec '19 - 6:42pm

    @nvelope2003

    I am rather concerned that you think democracy is only OK if the right people get elected. The danger is, of course, that those excluded from being represented tend to reject democracy itself and are more likely to support extreme parties of right and left. Read this article:

    theguardian.com/news/2019/dec/03/anywhere-but-westminster-vox-pops-understanding-uk-political-landscape

    and you will see that many of those now supporting the far Right are ex-Labour supporters from white working class backgrounds that the Labour party relied on for years without doing anything for them. John Harris has written many articles for The Guardian and you will find similar examples in his other articles.

  • Mick Taylor 3rd Dec '19 - 8:27pm

    John Marriott. It’s not quite as you say. Yes, you get representation if you get over 5%, but even if you get less than 5% you get representation if you win 3 directly elected MPs. The FDP did just that immediately after reunification when it did get 3 directly elected MPs in East Germany.
    However, I, and I hope the party, want STV when every MP is directly elected in multimember constituencies using a quota, just like we elect people to the various committees of the party and as happens in Scottish local elections and for all elections in Ireland, including TDs and for European elections in Northern Ireland.

  • John Marriott 3rd Dec '19 - 10:04pm

    @Mick Taylor
    You are, of course, right. I realise now that I ought to have differentiated more clearly between those MPs who are elected directly and those who are ‘elected’ from regional lists. As to whether the FDP gets any ‘direkte Mandate’, that’s why I used the word ‘usually’.

    As to which system of PR you or the Lib Dems want, it quite frankly doesn’t bother me as long as it’s proportional. Certainly I don’t want the alternative vote, although I suppose it’s marginally better than FPTP.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Dec '19 - 11:19am

    David Allen

    Tell everybody that the widespread suspicion that the Lib Dems lean toward the Left while quietly marching to the Right is just a figment of Labour’s imagination.

    Well, here is something that suggests this is true: that we are actively working to pick up the votes of traditional Conservatives in the elite part of the country.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Dec '19 - 11:19am

    Meanwhile, traditional opponents of the Conservative Party are saying they will be voting Conservative.

    Why is this? Because they are unhappy about the way our country has become more unequal, with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and how control of our country seems to have switched to shady billionaires. They have been persuaded to believe that democratic control and a more equal society will be obtained by leaving the EU, and they are voting Conservative because the Conservatives have become the Brexit party.

    In fact, the Brexiteers leading the Conservative Party want Brexit to be able to push things even further their way towards an extreme right-wing economy run by and for shady billionaires.

    And what is our attitude to this? To persuade them that they have been conned, and what had caused their unhappiness is actually the economic policy of the Conservative Party rather than the EU? No, rather we have dismissed them and let the Conservatives tricksters win. I.e. people are voting Conservative in order to show their opposition to what the Conservatives stand for, and we have done nothing to persuade them that that is nonsense.

    And now it seems, from what is written here, that we want to take that further, by pushing the impression that we are the party that stands for what the Conservative Party used to be about. Doing that to obtain the votes of a few very wealthy people in elite parts of the country, while throwing away the support of millions who used to be why we won seats especially in arts of the country where people felt no-one else understood their concerns and spoke for them.

    This is madness, and is wrecking our party. If the aim really is to turn us into what was the 1980s Conservative Party, please let me know, and I shall leave after 40 years of membership which started because I felt the Liberal Party was the best opposition to the Conservative Party where I lived.

  • Joseph Bourke 4th Dec '19 - 12:09pm

    Matthew,

    one of the big trends of the last 40 years is that it has been shown that the assumption that the country is made-up largely of dyed-in the wool Conservative and Labour voters a false one. Since the Thatcher years there has been massive churn in voting patterns with the Conservative party now drawing much of its support from Labour’s traditional working class base and the Labour party increasingly reliant on middle-class professionals.
    That should tell us that all voters are open to change. It is the mission of the Liberal Democrats to argue that there is a credible alternative to the politics of left/right class division. It is the mixed market Liberal democracy that has its closest counterpart in the Nordic economic model with its focus on private markets and the provision of Universal public services including crucially affordable housing and childcare.
    The current Libem manifesto is a big step in the right direction.

  • marcstevens 4th Dec '19 - 12:58pm

    Well said Matthew, I totally agree with you. Sometimes I come on here and feel that those of us at the other end of the scale, council tenants on a low income like myself, are being shut out. Some members on here seem more interested in attracting well off tories or ex-tories than social liberals who would like to see better funded public services and local government which is hardly inclusive.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Dec '19 - 1:32pm

    Joseph Bourke

    Since the Thatcher years there has been massive churn in voting patterns with the Conservative party now drawing much of its support from Labour’s traditional working class base and the Labour party increasingly reliant on middle-class professionals.

    So, does that mean the Conservative Party supports what is necessary to build a more equal society, with more support given to poorer people to save them from being enslaved by poverty, so that is why working class people are switching to the Conservatives?

    NO!!!!!! Instead, they feel they gave been ignored by the Labour Party, and they have been tricked into thinking that it’s membership of the EU rather than Conservative Party economics that has caused their lack of freedom due to big government cuts and privatisation passing control of everything to billionaires.

    And what are we doing to show those people they have been tricked and so to get their votes? Not just nothing, we have actually done what is required to push them away from us so they would never even consider voting for us.

    The core support of the Liberal Party, the people who gave it what it needed to revive, were working class people in southern and rural areas who felt that Labour had no interest in them, because Labour was only about those places with big industry and strong trade unions. They voted for us because they saw us as the best opposition to the Conservatives where they lived.

    So now with the collapse of big industry with trade unions, nearly the whole of the country is like that. So we should be booming, getting the support of working class people everywhere. Instead, we seem to be happy to push them away from us, insult them because of how they were fooled into voting Leave, and put ourselves out as the modern version of the Thatcherite party so we can our support can be mainly wealthy middle class people.

    Madness, madness, madness, and it has wrecked our party.

  • @ Matthew & marc. Correct. Whoever advised the Leadership to bang on about how awful Jeremy Corbyn was failed to understand it would reawaken memories of 2010-15 and all that that entailed…… at the same time frightening tepid Tories back into their own fold.

    A more positive stance – articulating radical policies to tackle inequality, low pay, social care, restoring local authority services, a serious stance on climate change, and a positive attempt to re-unite the country would have received a better hearing. Instead it’s been a combination of unreal claims to be Prime Minister, negative personal attacks on opponents, and changing tack from a second referendum to revoke (and to heck with the 52% who didn’t vote remain).

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Dec '19 - 2:03pm

    Joseph Bourke

    It is the mission of the Liberal Democrats to argue that there is a credible alternative to the politics of left/right class division.

    What left-right class division? Class division has massively grown in recent decades, in the 1979 we were one of the most equal countries in Europe but now we are one of the most unequal. This is all down to the Conservative economic policy since then, which was largely supported by the Labour government of Tony Blair.

    Class division has grown, yet you are saying it should be less of an aspect of politics rather than more because of that? These days it doesn’t seem to be something that gets talked about. One might suppose from how politics gets covered today that the main left-right issue is that the left are anti-semitic and the right are anti-islamic.

    So, people who are not comfortably wealthy feel that no-one in politics cares for them or will do anything to make their lives better. As a result, they get conned into supporting extreme right-wingers, and instead of challenging that, we seem to be happy for it to happen, and so and say all we can to keep them there.

    How very different from how our party used to be. Our Liberal Party survived and grew precisely because we rejected the idea that the main issue of freedom was giving power to businessmen to run everything. We insisted, when the merger with the SDP took place, that the party should retain as the main description of what it was about “none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”.

    I have been active in the party for over 40 years. I was leader of its council group in the London Borough of Lewisham, when it grew to be the main opposition to Labour, and grew to get a close second place in very constituency in 2010. We certainly did not do this by pushing ourselves out as supporters of Conservative economics, and we were destroyed when the leader of the party in 2010-15 did just that.

    So now, I am trying to tell the party what it needs to do to win back the support it used to have. Instead, it seems to be doing the opposite, and as a consequence facing a disaster in the next general election.

  • Some polling evidence that “Revoke” vs “Referendum” is not the problem: https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/89cgl1a6k7/InternalResults_271119_BrexitQ.pdf
    With all three of Labour voters, Labour+Remain voters and Lib Dem voters … the two policies get basically equal favourability scores (Labour voters marginally prefer the referendum policy, Lib Dem voters marginally prefer straight revocation, but it’s very close). Con+Remain voters are more in favour of revocation.

    In other words, there’s no clear evidence that the revoke policy is putting people off the Lib Dems – and it may even be marginally helping – but on the other hand Labour’s policy is “good enough” for most Remainers too, so then other factors will come into the decision.

  • Tony Greaves 4th Dec '19 - 5:09pm

    Discussion has wandered a bit away from the question of the numbers on 13th December. But it’s our reaction to those numbers which will save or destroy the party in the short term and perhaps for some time beyond.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Dec '19 - 5:26pm

    David Raw: I was canvassing in Kensington yesterday and I can tell you people there who are scared of Corbyn. It’s the same in Richmond Park, same everywhere the Lib Dems are challenging the Tories. The way to get soft Tories to vote for us is to convince them that we will not help Corbyn into No 10. It’s the exact opposite of how you think it is.
    Momentum’s army of keyboard warriors are going to keep on about the Coalition regardless of what they say. The latest line is that Lib Dems “scrapping” (sic) the pledge to revoke Article 50 is evidence that we are preparing for a coalition with Johnson. For them, a Lib Dem spokesperson opening their mouth is evidence that we want to go to bed with the Tories. Fortunately, ordinary voters care a lot less about the Coalition than the Corbynistas seem to think. To get it into perspective, today’s undergraduate students were in primary school at the time of the tuition fees bungle.

  • nvelope2003 4th Dec '19 - 5:52pm

    John Marriott: Several states have a threshold in addition to Germany such as Austria and Sweden (4%) and Greece but it has not stopped hard right parties getting into their Parliaments – the AfD, Freedom Party, Sweden Democrats, Golden Dawn from time to time.
    I do not think the disaffected would be satisfied with a few MPs. What they want is a Governing party and I agree that many people feel betrayed by the present middle class parties and are looking for something different. I have been banging on about this for ages and until today I was ignored or ridiculed but now the chickens have come home to roost and panic has set in. Good – I just hope it is not too late. Almost all the subsidies promised by the Labour and Liberal parties will mostly benefit the middle class and be paid for from the taxes of the cleaners and bus drivers who get up at 4 am to start their shift.
    Mick Taylor: I think it was mainly the PDS (former Communists) and the Greens who benefitted from a relaxation of the 5% rule in the 1990 all German election as it was applied separately in the former East and West German areas.

  • I pointed out here some months ago that the Revoke policy is highly anti-democratic. Insulting over 17.4 million of the electorate who voted to leave the EU and a significant number of Remainers who think that the democratic decision should be respected is not the best strategy to win an election.

    Go back to your constituencies and prepare for public rejection.

  • Paul Barker 4th Dec '19 - 7:54pm

    One of the things that will inevitably happen After December 13th is an important round of Local Elections in early May, itw way too soon to assess our chances then but its worth reminding ourselves that Life & Politics carry on even if we are forced out of The EU.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Dec '19 - 9:00pm

    Peter: The Revoke policy simply says what we would do if enough people vote for us to give us a Parliamentary majority. The point is that this would give us a DEMOCRATIC mandate to revoke Article 50. What democracy can do, democracy can undo. If you don’t like the policy, you don’t have to vote for us. But you have absolutely no business declaring it “anti-democratic”, as though the referendum result was sacrosanct . Campaigning to do something if you get enough votes IS democracy. And if that overturns a previous mandate, well, that’s what democracy does all the time. The 2016 referendum result is probably the most fetishised vote in the history of modern democracy. (Is there any other vote in which the number of votes on the winning side is repeated as a slogan?!?!?!?) The Revoke policy may have served its purpose of shifting the Overton window somewhat on Brexit. It wasn’t so long ago that even holding a referendum to potentially replace the mandate of the 2016 referendum was considered “anti-democratic”. The utterly false, wrong, dangerous and anti-democratic idea that democratic campaigning to replace a previous democratic mandate can ever be considered anti-democratic is something that needed challenge, and I’m pleased that we have done so.

  • Peter Watson 4th Dec '19 - 10:27pm

    @Alex Macfie “The point is that this would give us a DEMOCRATIC mandate to revoke Article 50.”
    The unfortunate flip side of this policy is that Lib Dems cannot deny Johnson the same democratic mandate to implement his version of Brexit if he secures a majority in Parliament even if he falls a long way short of 50% of the vote. Any attempts to derail it or put it to a “People’s Vote” would look hypocritical. There are obvious problems with the “revoke” policy but It has never been clear what the benefit of it is to a party which was never going to win a parliamentary majority and which was already firmly associated with remaining in the EU.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Dec '19 - 5:17am

    Peter Watson:

    “Lib Dems cannot deny Johnson the same democratic mandate to implement his version of Brexit if he secures a majority in Parliament”

    What makes you think we would? Of course Johnson would have a mandate to implement his Brexit if he won a Parliamentary majority: that’s how the system works. The Lib Dems would, of course, oppose it and vote against it in Parliament, as that would be our mandate as part of the Opposition. However, in practice, there’s very little that an opposition party can do against a determined PM supported by a majority of MPs.

  • Re revoke
    Personally, I think the LDs got over excited by good results in the Euro (the Brexit Party did better) and local elections. The possibility that electorate were using these elections as a safe way to register a protest vote was ignored. Spin took over from reality.

  • Peter Martin 5th Dec '19 - 9:09am

    @ Joe,

    “Since the Thatcher years there has been massive churn in voting patterns with the Conservative party now drawing much of its support from Labour’s traditional working class base and the Labour party increasingly reliant on middle-class professionals.”

    The safest Labour seat in the country is Liverpool Walton. The safest Tory seat is Christchurch.

    And, you’re saying this is because the country’s “working class base” has decided to relocate to Christcurch and Walton has suddenly become a magnet for “middle class professionals”?

  • Peter Watson 5th Dec '19 - 10:52am

    @Martin @AlexMacfie
    Although Lib Dems could not block a majority Tory government and would not have to stop opposing Brexit, they’ve thrown away the right to challenge the legitimacy of a majority Tory government implementing Brexit with the support of less than half of the electorate and they have undermined any ongoing campaign for a People’s Vote under such a government. And what was the benefit of the Revoke policy? If the electorate returned a majority Remain-supporting Lib Dem government it would surely have supported Remain in an immediate second referendum.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Dec '19 - 10:58am

    Glenn

    Personally, I think the LDs got over excited by good results in the Euro (the Brexit Party did better) and local elections.

    It’s similar to what happened in 2010. Hard work by local activists brings the party up, but then the leadership thinks it’s all to do with what they are doing, and wreck it.

    In 2010, given that we knew the general election had to take place because it was five years after the previous one, many of us activists put a lot of effort into putting out leaflets, before the election officially started, in order to help build up support. And it worked, with the polls showing our vote share increasing.

    But briefly when Clegg appeared in a television show, given that hardly anyone previously knew about him and he seemed to be reasonably ok, it helped put share of votes in polls up a little more. The problem then was that this was described as “Cleggmania” and it was put out that Clegg was the sole reason why voting intention for us had increased. Given that he didn’t do that wonderfully in the rest of the election, but that it switched what people thought the LibDems were about and lost attention to local activity, our votes then went down again.

    So, in 2019, local activity pushed our vote up in local elections. That was good, it helped people see we were a strong party, so the new parties that were being suggested to be produced were not needed, and people voted for us in the unexpected Euro election.

    The problem then came with the incorrect belief that it was solely our support for Remain that had given us this good vote in the Euro election. So pushing out the idea that this is all our party is about has damaged us because it means we aren’t seen as we were seen when we won votes due to hard local work in local elections. I.e. a party which works hard, is genuinely concerned with the issues that people have, and which has plenty of ideas about how to deal with them.

    Switching the idea that this general election is just about Leave/Remain is terrible, because it isn’t, it’s about who could be governing us for the next five years. Pushing the idea that the only thing that matters is Leave/Remain has just strengthened those who supported Leave into becoming more firm supporters of it and voting Conservative even though they were previously firm opponents to general Conservative policy.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Dec '19 - 11:15am

    Peter

    I pointed out here some months ago that the Revoke policy is highly anti-democratic. Insulting over 17.4 million of the electorate who voted to leave the EU and a significant number of Remainers who think that the democratic decision should be respected is not the best strategy to win an election.

    For me, the main issue is that what the Conservative leadership want from Brexit is almost the exact opposite of what many, perhaps even most, people who voted Leave thought they were doing it for. Many people voted Leave because they are unhappy about the way our country has gone due to Conservative economic policy since 1979, but the Conservatives want it to be able to push things even further that way.

    It was listening to ordinary people saying why they wanted to vote Leave, and then seeing the sort of discussion about it happening in elite right-wing economic places, that turned me from someone who wasn’t too bothered either way to becoming a strong supporter of Remain.

    Does that make me anti-democratic? Well, if you are a worker and someone asks you to do a particular task because they want it for a particular reason, and you know that it will lead to the opposite of what they said they wanted it for, what should you do? Do it anyway? Or try to explain to then why you think it won’t give them what they want and ask them to think again and say whether they will really want it?

    If you were someone who deliberately tricked those paying you, because you wanted what they did not want, and you let them believe untruths, or just failed to give full information about how it all works, doing that to get them to agree to what you want, well, then you would just do it.

    But a fair and decent worker would not. And that’s what a second referendum means here.

    Our party needed to make this clear. We did not. And we are being crushed because of that.

  • David Evans 5th Dec '19 - 12:00pm

    Matthew has once again expressed my views very accurately.

  • nvelope2003 – “I just hope it is not too late. Almost all the subsidies promised by the Labour and Liberal parties will mostly benefit the middle class and be paid for from the taxes of the cleaners and bus drivers who get up at 4 am to start their shift.” – another right-wing talking point, I have heard this time and time again from the Trumplicans and the Canadian Tories, while Canada is the living example where progressive social liberal policies help lift over 1 million people out of poverty in 4 years.

    “Several states have a threshold in addition to Germany such as Austria and Sweden (4%) and Greece but it has not stopped hard right parties getting into their Parliaments – the AfD, Freedom Party, Sweden Democrats, Golden Dawn from time to time” – these are one-issue parties that only find success thanks to fear of migration crisis (and, austerity policies from meanstream parties as well). And before talking about the AfD, let’s remember that the Grune outmatch them and are actually posing to replace Merkel.

  • nvelope2003 5th Dec '19 - 2:56pm

    Thomas: I am neither a “Trumplican” nor a right wing Canadian Tory or any other type. This is what people are saying and they do not really believe that it is possible to give free services without someone having to pay for them. I believe that instead of subsidising products or services where the rich also or mostly benefit, those who need more money should be given it but of course the middle class people here do not want to hear that as they are looking forward to receiving the free or subsidised services which they no doubt believe they are entitled to.
    This is the sort of thing which is making so many people angry that they have given up on the present party system.

  • A referendum is a mechanism for letting the people decide on an important single issue in an unambiguous way. It is normal convention for parliamentarians to accept the stated will of the people. Although not enshrined in law, it was indicated that the result would be acted upon at the last referendum rather than being taken as advisory. It is therefore a shocking break with convention to ignore or reject the vote.

    The circumstances of the referendum were unusual. The main parties were unprepared for a Brexit vote and a leave result. This meant that they were split internally and unable to form a credible policy or support for it. Theresa May managed to preside over a completely shambolic attempt to deliver the referendum result.

    Conservative Remainers betrayed their manifesto, their party members and the public by voting against the will of the people. MPs from other parties joined in the rejection of the referendum result.

    The call for a second vote was yet another disgraceful move aimed at rejecting the democratic result. The whole sorry mess has been a spectacle of incompetence and absence of integrity which has destroyed trust in parliament. It has damaged our democracy, trashed confidence in referenda and made our once proud country a laughing stock worldwide. This party has made an unnecessary contribution to the the depths of political squalor on public display by introducing the revoke policy. Shame on those who support it.

  • I’m dreading party infighting over a “poor” result. FPTP and the fact we are miles behind in all but a handful of constituencies combined with predictable squeezing from the two “main” parties were always going to take a toll. We will almost certainly receive significantly more of the vote than 2017 or 2015, but this may not translate well into seats.

    My concern isn’t about policy or the media performance of the leader but that we haven’t repeated the mistake of 2010 of thinking we were realistically going to win far more seats and spreading our resources too thin, especially with the defections. I hope we’ve not allocated too many resources to trying to win unlikely victories.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Dec '19 - 4:24pm

    Peter

    Theresa May managed to preside over a completely shambolic attempt to deliver the referendum result.

    then

    The call for a second vote was yet another disgraceful move aimed at rejecting the democratic result.

    This is completely contradictory. What Theresa May came up with is what Brexit in practice means. Oh, we could have a softer Brexit, putting us like Norway and Switzerland, which was pushed in the referendum, but it seems most of those who want Brexit reject that. They say they’d rather stay in the EU and at least then have a say in it than leave it and still be under its control, because of the sort of acceptance of trade deals etc those countries have.

    Others, however, reject a harder Brexit, saying they didn’t want it like that and would rather stay in the EU than have a Brexit that breaks all those deals. Given that the soft form of Brexit was in effect proposed when Norway and Switzerland were given as successful non-EU European countries, that’s fair enough.

    So, whatever form of Brexit is proposed, it seems a majority would rather stay in the EU than have that form.

    People voted Leave thinking it would be a magic solution to so many problems, but it’s just nit possible to invent form that gives everyone just what they want, with what you say about the only practical attempt managed to actually get a workable form illustrating that.

    So I think it makes perfect sense once what Brexit really means is developed, to ask people again to say whether now they have seem it, do they still really want it. And give a choice of several forms, with AV to avoid the fear that by voting for what you mist want you could split the vote and so give victory to what you least want. And I do think Remain has to be an option, given the way most say about any form that they’d rather stay in the EU than have that form.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Dec '19 - 5:53pm

    Andrew T: Actually we have a tight targeting strategy. as reflected in constituency polls indicating large surges in seats we are targeting (e.g. F&GG, Esher & Walton) but modest advances (or even falling back) in seats where we were low to start with and are running token campaigns only (e.g. Great Grimsby, Workington). Some of our targets are not the ones one would expect from 2017 results, but then the 2017 election results are not good indicators of what is going to happen this time. The error in 2010 was that we mostly abandoned targeting in favour of the old “one more heave” strategy, following a very superficial surge in national poll support. We are doing pretty much the opposite now.

  • David Allen 5th Dec '19 - 6:58pm

    The crucial question now is what can be done in the last seven days to turn this election. Big late changes can happen. But only if big things happen in the campaign or the news.

    What hasn’t happened yet is – Anyone pricking Johnson’s defensive balloon of bland evasion and lying. The key text must be the working-man voter interviewed last night who said “This is going to sound awful, but it’s Boris who’s saying what I want to hear!”

    Labour are in a dilemma. They could say, and rightly, that working class voters are being conned by the Tories into voting for their own impoverishment. But that would sound too patronising, and would cost Labour votes. So Labour pull their punches. Labour could also say that 3 months to do Johnson’s Brexit is a fantasy and that even the 12 months the BBC suggests is nothing like long enough. But Labour can’t say that, because the Labour Brexit would also, in truth, take many years to complete.

    Lib Dems can say the truths that Labour can’t say. They can risk annoying the voters of Mansfield and Bolsover by telling them they risk falling for a Conservative Con, because we’re not going to win in those constituencies anyway. And who knows, perhaps we could prick Johnson’s balloon, and persuade enough working class voters not to vote Bullingdon Club, enough to deny Johnson his majority.

    Worth trying???

  • @ Alex Macfie “large surges in seats we are targeting (e.g. F&GG, Esher & Walton) but modest advances (or even falling back) in seats where we were low to start with and are running token campaigns only (e.g. Great Grimsby, Workington).”

    Prosperous Esher & Walton gets resources and priority – Alex Macfie has nothing to say and can’t be bothered about poor old Workington (15% support in 2005 dropping successively to 2.7% last time). Time was Liberals used to be bothered about poverty and inequality but now my old Council colleague Neil Hughes is left to get on with it.

    How revealing. Maybe when Alex gets a chance a google the Analysis below will reveal how the legacy of austerity has impacted far away from the leafy suburbs of the south east. Sorry is the hardest word…………….

    Deprivation Analysis Allerdale – Cumbria County Council : http://www.cumbria.gov.uk › eLibrary › Content › Internet : Workington’s Moss Bay ward and Maryport’s Ewanrigg ward. … pockets of severe child poverty across the district’s wards.

  • Whilst on the subject of inequality and the poor being hardest hit interesting to examine the findings of new research by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), published today, shows a staggering increase in the cost of public transport in the last 20 years, while the cost of motoring has plummeted by a quarter in the same time period.

    The research shows that while the cost of motoring has fallen by 24%, rail fares have increased by 38%, and bus fares have rocketed by 80%. The proportion of distance travelled by bike in the period is unchanged, but that the proportion of journeys made by foot it down.

    Now why could that be ?

  • Richard Elliott 5th Dec '19 - 8:41pm

    A couple of reflections – the national party somewhat misread the pre election period regarding our support and did not fully understand the dynamics of the current two partly system. Our rise in the polls was due to good work on the ground around local issues outside a general election context and a protest style vote at the Euros. Yes our base has improved from 2015 but not as much as some in the party perceived and the problems arising from the coalition will take much longer to work through. Also, Labours move to support a second ref while good in itself allows labour remainers to remain in labour.

    General Elections have become a process whereby the two party bias, aided by the media, kicks in and most voters focus on who should be in No.10 and who they don’t want – with Johnson and Corbyn provoking very strong negative feelings drawing voters in for the fear of the other. Also Opinion Polls having been telling us that the Lib Dem vote is the most unsure – ie liable to move to others. Therefore it means that firstly there is a squeeze and reducing overall poll ratings are inevitable however well our campaign is run, and secondly that we must focus on a narrow range of seats. 20 seats and 14% would be a good result in these circumstances. Brexit and Greens are suffering a bigger squeeze than us. To present Jo as a future PM with a presidential style launch in these circumstances is therefore not credible, and this should been foreseen – Jo was never going to be able to live up to this expectation.

    My message would be don’t beat ourselves up if we only make modest progress, build on an excellent manifesto and make the party less tribal by focusing on the inclusive politics typified by the remain alliance and cross party movements.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Dec '19 - 8:42pm

    David Allen

    The crucial question now is what can be done in the last seven days to turn this election. Big late changes can happen. But only if big things happen in the campaign or the news

    Yup. I’ve spent a lot of time writing things here in the past few days because I think I do know what the LibDems need to do to recover, and despite everything I’m still a member and I really do want the party to recover.

    I don’t like the way the party has gone in recent years, but if it had done well, as the leadership each time said it would, I’d have to accept that while it’s not what I want, it makes sense in terms of the party growing.

    It hasn’t worked, however. For years now I’ve been saying what the party needs to do, and I’ve been completely ignored, and it’s done the opposite, and the party has continued to get nowhere in terms of being able to win a significant number of MPs.

    Oh well, at least again I have tried.

  • @Matthew – The referendum quite correctly gave an in or out choice. The leave campaign was about taking back control. That means leaving all EU regulated activities. Any type of soft Brexit would be Brexit in name only. The EU itself made this crystal clear by insisting that any benefits of the EU would have the price of full regulation acceptance. In effect, a soft Brexit is a contradiction in terms since it does not escape EU control. It was Remainers sticking to this argument that helped to waste two years of precious time.

    Assuming that the current poll is essentially about Brexit, we shall see if Leavers still want to leave the EU. I suspect that they have not changed their minds at all. The voters knew what they were doing even if the politicians hoped that they didn’t.

  • David Allen 5th Dec '19 - 11:20pm

    Matthew Huntbach,

    Yes, you’ve tried. I have tried. Quite a few others – some leaning toward “loyalist”, others leaning toward “dissident”, have also tried. I have a sense that – belatedly – our leadership has begun to listen. But far too slowly.

    Now, I find that your perspectives help me analyse what to do with indepndent thinkers. You see, about two-thirds of the time, my reaction is “That nails it!” But one-third of the time, my reaction is “Huntbach is really missing the point here!”

    I suspect that you – and others – might say something a bit similar about my inputs! Nobody, including yours truly, is immune from talking arrant nonsense from time to time.

    Now – that’s what democracy, and consensus thinking, is designed to deal with. It is well known that, if you ask many individuals to tackle an awkward problem of making the best choices between alternatives, the best answer will come from simply determining the consensus result – the series of choices with greatest support. Smart individuals will out-perform the consensus on specific questions where they are expert, or where they gain a brilliant insight. But overall, the boring overall consensus will make fewest gross errors, and thus get the best results.

    The moral is – Listen to Huntbach! But don’t take his ideas as gospel. Don’t treat Allen’s ideas as gospel, either. And for heaven’s sake, don’t treat the ideas from some rich Lib Dem donor, or from the Leader, or from any other individual “insider”, as gospel either. Get a debate going. Seek a consensus. Go with that.

    We didn’t do that early enough. It will hurt us. We need to change. As soon as possible.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Dec '19 - 10:18am

    Peter

    The referendum quite correctly gave an in or out choice. The leave campaign was about taking back control. That means leaving all EU regulated activities. Any type of soft Brexit would be Brexit in name only.

    I very much do remember Norway and Switzerland being mentioned as part of the campaign for Leave, given as examples to show that a country does not have to be in the EU to be successful. So how can you claim, which in effect is what you are doing, that not a single person who voted Leave did so because they had been influenced by these examples? The agreement those countries have with the EU is what you call “Brexit in name only”.

    Does having no agreement whatsoever with your neighbours give you complete freedom? No. It means you can’t trust them, they can’t trust you, you have to be cautious and concerned about what they might do, so it reduces your freedom.

    What is the actual control that would make Britain a wonderful and much better and more democratic country giving us all what we what if we left the EU? What is the EU stopping us doing that it would so transform our country without it that it is worth voting Conservative to get it, even if you dislike all other Conservatives policies?

    Where I live there have been Brexit Party campaigners in the high street, I’ve asked them this, and I have got no clear answers.

    So, the EU is about trade agreement and freedom of movement within Europe. That is not the same as complete control of our country which is what you are suggesting. Leaving the EU means we lose the freedom to move to other countries and to trade with them. Do people feel that’s ok or not?

    My real concern, however, is that we need to work with other countries to stop the way that real control of the world has switched to international companies run by shady billionaires. So that is why we need the EU. And it is why the right-wing Conservatives want Leave – not to give control back to people but to give it even more to the billionaires.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Dec '19 - 11:01am

    Peter

    Assuming that the current poll is essentially about Brexit, we shall see if Leavers still want to leave the EU.

    So I think that’s the problem: people have an unrealistic assumption about what Leave will give us. When a real version of Brexit was suggested, people said they didn’t want it because it didn’t give them what they wanted. The problem then is whatever form Brexit takes, it will not be a magic solution to everyone’s problems, i.e. it will not give the what they though they were voting for.

    For that reason I felt from the start that what was needed was an actual version of Brexit to be worked out, and once that is done for a second referendum to take place to ask people if that is what they want.

    That’s absolutely standard. If you are a worker providing a service for someone, and they ask for something vague, of course what you should do is work out a detailed form of it in practice, and ask them if that is what they really want. If you listen to why they say they want something, and you think it will not work in the way they think, actually it will do the opposite, you have a duty to tell them that, and ask them are they sure it’s what they really want, and not just go ahead and do it anyway.

    And that is what I have been saying about the Liberal Democrats. We should have shown a sympathy and understanding for those who voted Leave, not just dismissed them. We should also have put an effort into explaining what the EU does and how it works. This to explain to people that the idea that the EU has complete control of us, so leaving it will transform our country is untrue. The things that are making people unhappy are more to do with Conservative economic policy making our country a much more unequal one than it used to be. So it was very convenient for the Conservatives to let people think it was the EU to blame, so they could continue to get support – when actually they want to leave the EU to push things even further that way.

    But we have done the opposite of all this, and so helping the Conservatives to win and indeed supporting them in what they are doing. Perhaps the most effective argument put for Leave was “it will turn the clock back”, because that’s what people want to reverse what I still call Thatcherism, given that it started in 1979. And who said that?

  • nvelope2003 – “Thomas: I am neither a “Trumplican” nor a right wing Canadian Tory or any other type. This is what people are saying and they do not really believe that it is possible to give free services without someone having to pay for them. I believe that instead of subsidising products or services where the rich also or mostly benefit, those who need more money should be given it but of course the middle class people here do not want to hear that as they are looking forward to receiving the free or subsidised services which they no doubt believe they are entitled to.” – you are not a Trumplican/Tory yourself, but you are advancing their talking point, and that makes you their indirect spokesman. And, you can literally replace “Labour and Libdem subsidies” with things from “The New Deal”, “The Great Society” to “The NHS”. You know why Trudeau was re-elected even after Lavalin and blackface, because his progressive policies (many of which you would have called “middle-class subsidies”) delivered real results and materially improved people’s lives, and thus the Tories could not do anything than spewing ad-hominem attacks on Trudeau himself rather than his policies (of course I am talking about Canada excluding Alabama of the North).

  • Matthew Huntbach – the natural liberals are the Brahmin Left, which consists of civil servants, public sector employees, medical and law practioners, teachers and professors, students, intellectuals and scientists, modern knowledge workers and more progressive businessmen. Yes, you have to admit that they will be the core base of any successful centre-left liberal political party in the world today, not just here in Britain.

  • Laurence Cox 6th Dec '19 - 2:37pm

    @David Raw

    “Prosperous Esher & Walton gets resources and priority – Alex Macfie has nothing to say and can’t be bothered about poor old Workington”

    It’s not just our Party; Labour has also failed these same people:

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/dec/06/people-are-fed-up-tired-and-scared-the-battle-for-wrexham

    Also see their articles on Bishop Auckland and Morecambe. These should all be safe Labour seats and it’s no use tactical voting turfing out Dominic Raab if Labour lose more of their heartland seats to the Tories. Remember that every Tory candidate is signed up to Johnson’s Brexit deal, so it’s only the number of them that matters. “Portillo moments” are only good memories if your side also wins overall.

  • @ Laurence Cox I’m unclear on your point – and you seem to be unclear on mine.

    If you say there is disillusion with all political parties you may have a point….. although only the Tories (and Lib Dems) have held power and responsibility for events since 2010. Many in areas such as Workington and Bishop Auckland (I know both) have been worn down by austerity since 2010. No wonder they lose faith in politics. My point is Lib Dems seem to have no interest or traction outside the leafy home counties.

    To give an example. The Sure Start Children’s Centre programme, introduced in 1998 by the last Labour government, brought together ‘under one roof’ services for young children and their families. Focused initially on the most disadvantaged areas in England, the programme was later extended to all areas. By its peak in August 2009, there were 3,632 centres, with over half (54%) in the 30% most disadvantaged areas. However, in recent years, its status as a key national programme has diminished, accompanied by substantial budget cuts and increasingly uneven local provision.

    The repeated (and belated apologies) given to Andrew Neil is too little and too late. The days when Jo Grimond (5 April, 1957) could state Britain should abandon its independent nuclear deterrent are long gone. The simple unqualified ‘Yes’ to the use of it a few days ago chilled my blood.

    Grimond also said (in 1953) that the party declined because, “it forgot that man is a social animal who has always lived in communities and relaxed their efforts to ameliorate poverty and injustice by state action” .

    That still applies to…. Workington, Wrexham, Bishop Auckland et al…. which you and Lib Dems of Alex Macfie’s ilk seem to regard as no go areas.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Dec '19 - 5:23pm

    David Raw

    My point is Lib Dems seem to have no interest or traction outside the leafy home counties.

    You think everyone is wealthy and happy in “leafy home counties”?

    That’s precisely the problem that the Liberal Party used to tackle in those places, and why I joined it and became active in the first place, growing up myself in what people elsewhere thought was a place where everyone was wealthy.

    But I grew up in a poor working class family there, and that’s the issue. Thanks to the disproportional representation system, we had no-one to represent us. Labour didn’t seem to understand us or care for us, given that their MPs all came from very different places.

    Back then Labour was seen as the party of workers in big industry and big trade unions, so nothing to say or do to support those of us in places where industry was small and there weren’t any big trade unions. So an issue now is the way we thought then is more general across the country.

    Working class people in supposedly wealthy places where outsiders hardly knew we existed saw Labour and the Conservatives as much the same in terms of not caring for us. So that made the Conservative Party look much stronger than it really was, because it led to working class people voting Conservative not because they really supported them but because they didn’t think much of Labour either.

    That’s why when the Liberal Party did put in effort to win our support, and put out material to us that showed a genuine concern for us, we jumped to support them. So the core support for the Liberal Party in “leafy home counties” was actually poor working class people there.

    And that’s why, now the Liberal Democrats seem happy to put across the idea that they are like the Conservatives in terms of economics and like Labour in terms of supporting “civil servants, public sector employees, medical and law practitioners, teachers and professors, students, intellectuals and scientists, modern knowledge workers and more progressive businessmen” what used to be their core support have gone away from them, and thinking that no conventional politicians support them have been conned into thinking that Leaving the EU is the only way to get politics which gives them a better life.

  • @ Matthew Huntbach I agree, Matthew.

    AsCchair of Trustees of a Foodbank, I well know there are plenty of pockets of poverty in the areas you mention, and in the scattered rural areas where isolation, social care and medical needs are also present .

    Whether the modern Liberal Democrat Party either knows or cares about this is a good question. There was a lot to apologise for in the Andrew Neil interview….. just a pity it was not done sooner…… or even that it was necessary.

  • Matthew Huntbach, David Raw – “now the Liberal Democrats seem happy to put across the idea that they are like the Conservatives in terms of economics and like Labour in terms of supporting “civil servants, public sector employees, medical and law practitioners, teachers and professors, students, intellectuals and scientists, modern knowledge workers and more progressive businessmen” what used to be their core support have gone away from them, and thinking that no conventional politicians support them have been conned into thinking that Leaving the EU is the only way to get politics which gives them a better life.” – these groups, as I called them the Brahmin Left, generally supported higher health/NHS, social and education spending, strong social safety net and free public education system including free university (yes, free tuition fee). Many of them voted Libdems in 2010, especially students and those working in the public sector, but we put them off wholesale during the Coalition. I will tell you frankly, we will not win those votes with a Tory-lite platform.

    Just ask yourself why Trudeau swept Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal/Vancover but did not win much in rural West in elections? The progressive anti-austerity policies worked for the majority, but those rural dudes always speak against them. I don’t care much about rural folks, let me tell you that they are hostile to social programs very often.

  • To add to my previous comment, I believe that the expansionary economic policies to win over the Brahmin Left will also mostly appeal to the working class. But, we have to remember that they are naturally socialist and thus they will gravitate towards an actual socialist party unless that socialist party is too weak.

  • David Evans 7th Dec '19 - 8:24am

    Thomas, I think you will find that the reason so many rural folks, that you don’t care much (says a lot that) and that you tell us are hostile to social programs very often, is often because many social programs don’t get rolled out to rural areas, be it subsidised buses, trains (both long gone subsidised or not in rural areas), sure start (miles away) or whatever, NHS dentists (forget it) and hospitals (a two hour journey to a big city, on a bus that doesn’t run anymore). In theory they may be described as universal. In practice they are a long, long way away.

    Until people like you start to realise that rural issues are different and really work hard to understand that, a society where “no one shall be enslaved by poverty,” will be just a pipe dream and the “role of the state to enable all citizens to attain these ideals” will only apply to those who live near you.

    Liberalism applies to everyone.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Dec '19 - 8:35am

    Thomas

    Are you suggesting that I am saying we should have a Tory-lite platform? I have actually been spending my time saying we should not.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Dec '19 - 8:49am

    We needed to explain from the start that the 2010-15 coalition was caused by the electoral system supported by the Labour Party which boosts the Conservatives and leaves poorer people in rural and supposedly wealthy areas without representation. It resulted in a Parliament where the only stable government that could be formed was one where the Conservatives dominated and we would only have a small say. So what it did is most definitely not what we would do if we were the dominant party in a government. Or even if the representation was proportional, so we would have had two-fifths rather than one-sixth of the proportion of the coalition, and could have formed an alternative coalition with Labour if the Conservatives did not give in more to us.

    By not doing this in the 2015, 2017 and now 2019 general elections, we have let the idea that we are a Tory-lite party in terms of what we stand for economically continue. Or maybe even Tory-strong with the only difference being that we support staying in the EU and the Tories do not. This has lost us most of the votes we used to get, and doesn’t seem to have got us many new votes.

  • Peter Watson 7th Dec '19 - 9:18am

    @Matthew Huntbach “we have let the idea that we are a Tory-lite party in terms of what we stand for economically continue”
    Given that until a few weeks ago my Lib Dem candidate (Antoinette Sandbach in Eddisbury) was the incumbent Tory MP, it is pretty hard not to draw that conclusion. The local party appears to be putting more money into sending out leaflets than previously, but I have no idea if she has reversed her position on policies she previously endorsed and stood for (fox hunting?, grammar school expansion?) so it feels like this could remain a safe Tory seat returning either a Brexit Tory with a blue rosette or a Remain Tory with an orange one.

  • Matthew Huntback – I mean we should move away from a Tory-lite platform completely, and one of the key thing to do is to have a new progressive stance on tuition fee.

    “It resulted in a Parliament where the only stable government that could be formed was one where the Conservatives dominated and we would only have a small say. So what it did is most definitely not what we would do if we were the dominant party in a government. Or even if the representation was proportional, so we would have had two-fifths rather than one-sixth of the proportion of the coalition, and could have formed an alternative coalition with Labour if the Conservatives did not give in more to us.” – to be honest, Clegg was clearly pro-Tory, as demanding Brown to resign as a condition to form Coalition was already extremely annoying for any Labour negotiator, even though Brown was unpopular.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Dec '19 - 9:29pm

    Thomas

    Yes, I know Clegg was a pro-Tory type, I was certainly no supporter of him. I remember in one of the last party conferences I attended, just after the Coalition started, him giving a speech which essentially said that if we adopted Tory economic policies we’d get a whole load of new members, and anyone who disagreed with that should just leave. Well, after that I dropped out of much of the activity I used to give to the party, though I have retained membership.

    However, I think the idea that is essentially being pushed when we are criticised – that we could have got the Tories to drop all their policies and agree to everything we asked for – is nonsense. That is what I think we need to say, and our leadership has never said it.

    On tuition fees, the issue is that we could not have got the Tories to agree to the tax rises that would have been necessary to stop what happened. So had we pushed them not to raise tuition fees, it would have been paid for by huge cuts, and a big reduction in university places. Given the horrible things that happened because of the cuts that did take place, I think I have to be grateful we didn’t do that. And the way it stopped cuts that would have taken place in universities has saved us in universities – as a university lecturer I have to be grateful for that. The point we need to make is that this was not our ideal, just the best we could get from the Tories.

    By the way, my name is Huntbach not Huntback. There are a few English places whose names end in “bach”, and that is where my surname originates. Another such name is Sandbach. I know I’ve said my background is southern working class, but my father’s father came from a different background, see here for someone who turns out to be a distant relative with the same surname.

  • Matthew Huntbach – “On tuition fees, the issue is that we could not have got the Tories to agree to the tax rises that would have been necessary to stop what happened. So had we pushed them not to raise tuition fees, it would have been paid for by huge cuts, and a big reduction in university places. Given the horrible things that happened because of the cuts that did take place, I think I have to be grateful we didn’t do that. And the way it stopped cuts that would have taken place in universities has saved us in universities – as a university lecturer I have to be grateful for that. The point we need to make is that this was not our ideal, just the best we could get from the Tories.” – well, without the income tax cuts put forward by Clegg, we could have done something with tuition fees, at least blocking the hikes. Income tax cuts, either for the poor or the rich, would most likely reduce government revenue (yes, unlike some trickle-down myths), and certain public spending would have to be cut accordingly.

    David Evans – I see your point. I was too cynical, before I realize that British rural areas are still much better than American rural areas (well, you know, have gone full-blown MAGA).

  • OK, to come back to the original point – I don’t think the EVEL rules are necessarily a problem for a Labour / SNP coalition. Firstly, the SNP generally don’t vote on matters which don’t impact Scotland, so even without EVEL Labour would need support elsewhere to get these through. Secondly, if they did agree to vote on English legislation, it would be fairly simple to put through a rule change to get rid of EVEL (which would, of course, get support from the Lib Dems too.)

    On the campaign – I have my views from a distance on what I’ve seen. But a public forum in the last few days before an election is completely the wrong place and time to air them.

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