What Jeremy Browne did – and DIDN’T – tell The Times about the Lib Dems

the times browne pointlessLib Dems ‘are pointless’ – that’s today’s Times front page lead, reporting an interview it carries with Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne.

You might imagine, therefore, that Jeremy Browne had at some point in his interview said the Lib Dems “are pointless”. But if you read the article you’ll be disappointed. He doesn’t say it. That a newspaper with the reputation of The Times should put in quotation marks made-up quotes is quite something.

However, the headline isn’t based on nothing, even if one of the words attributed to Jeremy Browne is an invention. So here is what Jeremy did say to trigger it in his full interview with Rachel Sylvester:

He supported Nick Clegg for the leadership and thinks he was brave to take the Lib Dems into coalition, but he is disappointed by the direction in which Mr Clegg is taking the party now. “He thinks he has to meet his detractors halfway in political no man’s land. As a result of that, he has less clarity and definition as a liberal politician than I think he would otherwise have had, and I think we as a party have less clarity and definition as well. A lot of people who might quite like the Lib Dems they see in their locality have a difficulty getting what the Lib Dems stand for and why they are relevant.”

It’s not enough, in his view, to position the Lib Dems as a moderating influence on the Conservatives and Labour, as the deputy prime minister has tried to do. “Every political party and every politician has to be able to answer the question, ‘If you didn’t exist why would it be necessary to invent you?’ I’m not sure it would be necessary to invent an ill-defined moderating centrist party that believed that its primary purpose was to dilute the policies of other political parties, whereas I do think it would be necessary to invent a bold, ambitious liberal party. Liberalism is emphatically not the equidistant point between conservatism and socialism, it’s an ideology in its own right.”

This is a familiar criticism – that the party’s appeal to centrist voters is a betrayal of its radical liberal roots – albeit one less often advanced from the economic liberal (‘right’) of the Lib Dems, much more often by the social liberal (‘left’).

I’m not unsympathetic to this criticism. But it doesn’t alter the simple fact that the Lib Dems have no choice but to fight the 2015 election as a party of the centre. As I wrote last July:

From that day on, 11 May 2010, the Lib Dem strategy for 2015 was defined. It wasn’t defined by us: it was defined by our situation. We became, instantly, a party of the centre. It’s a phrase few of my fellow Lib Dems like. For years we’ve railed against it, pointing out (justifiably) that liberalism is neither left nor right, but is its own distinct and radical philosophy. To many activists being in ‘the centre’ suggests we’ve become a party that’s content with wishy-washy, please-all-the-people, split-the-difference mushiness.

Yet the reality is it’s precisely because we are perceived to be moderate centrists that many of the electorate vote for us. And if we are to continue as a party of government – which almost three-quarters of Lib Dem members would like us to do – then we will have to do a deal next time with either the right-leaning Tories or left-leaning Labour. We may not place ourselves in the centre, but our circumstances do. We need to make the best of it. …

By default, therefore, the Lib Dem strategy for the next election is already in place. It was put in place the moment we decided to join the Coalition. We’ll fight 2015 from the centre because there’s no other position from which we can credibly fight it.

None of that means we can’t put forward radical, liberal policies in our manifesto – it’s just that it’s very unlikely if they’re that radical or that liberal they’ll get very far in a coalition agreement (or if they do it will be in exchange for something that we Lib Dems find Highly Objectionable).

That’s what makes the next manifesto especially hard for the party. In the past, our manifestos have been almost an intellectual exercise – “imagine if the Lib Dems formed the next government…” – without any of us really expecting that fantasy would come to pass. This time, we know there’s a pretty reasonable chance we might form the next government, but it won’t be in the Dream World where every Lib Dem manifesto idea makes it into legislation. This is how I described the circle the party is trying to square in LDV’s ‘Lessons of Coalition’ series last summer:

Not only do we need the fully worked through policies which give our manifesto credibility and enthuse party activists, we need also to work up the bite-size policies achievable within the compromise of Coalition that will nevertheless move us in a liberal direction. Because if we don’t claim that space, as we so effectively have on taxation but have generally failed to do on public services, we can be sure the other party we’re in Coalition will do it for us, whether Tory or Labour.

And that’s still the dilemma.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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41 Comments

  • An old editor once explained to me that double quotation marks are for direct quotations and single quotation marks can be used for summarising what someone says. In which case, the Times have acted fairly here.

    1. It’s funny how, to understand Jeremy Browne , we have to buy his book or subscribe to the Times paywall. I would rather literally throw my money down a drain.

    2. If Jeremy Browne was happy with the direction of our party, I would be deeply worried. The fact that he isn’t, reassures me in my happiness with the party at the moment.

  • Paul In Twickenham 12th Apr '14 - 8:32am

    As I comment on another thread, the question is why is Mr. Browne chooses to push his libertarian agenda now. We are at the most sensitive point in the election cycle that will determine the future of the Clegg leadership and Browne chooses this moment to diss Clegg and his agenda. One would be forgiven for thinking that the timing was deliberately intended to maximize the difficulty for Clegg.

  • Stephen Tall
    You seem more than a little confused. You quote what you say Jeremy Browne “actually” said, including —
    “…I’m not sure it would be necessary to invent an ill-defined moderating centrist party that believed that its primary purpose was to dilute the policies of other political parties….”
    You then go on to repeat a line you have made on many previous occasions, that there is no alternative to the party fighting as a Centre Party in the 2015 General Election (the campaign for which will be in full flow just 50 weeks from now).
    It is odd to say that you are not unsympathetic to Browne’s criticism of Clegg and the Centre Party but to go on to say that you are convinced that there is no alternative but to be a Centre Party when it comes to fighting the General Election.

    Is this some sort of Orange Booker attempt to rehabilitate Browne because you think he has gone too far?

    Have you perhaps taken note of the New Statesman review of Browne’s book? — which concludes —

    “……Outside of the City of London, there is almost no appetite for the turbo Thatcherism advocated by Browne. As I’ve noted before, if Ed Miliband is a “socialist”, so are most of the public. Around two-thirds of voters support a 50p tax rate, a mansion tax, stronger workers’ rights, a compulsory living wage and the renationalisation of the railways and the privatised utilities (putting them to the left of the Labour leader).

    Browne might contend that only his vision can save Britain from inexorable decline, but he should not delude himself that he would ever win a mandate for it. “

  • I don’t foresee a rush to Taunton at the next election.

  • I am a member of the Labour Party who has often thought that a Lab-Lib coalition would be better than a Labour government with a majority. It would be a Labour government without the stupidity, authoritarianism and tribalism. However, Jeremy Browne’s ideas would be a total non-starter in negotiations to form a left of centre coalition.

  • The Labour candidate in Taunton is probably pleased. She or he will get a respectable vote now!

  • Radical Liberal 12th Apr '14 - 9:57am

    Banging on about being a centrists party is one sure way to lose yet more activists – you know the people you expect to run 50 odd separate by election campaigns in a year’s time. If you want to be a centrist go and join Labour and sit on the right of their party or join the tories and sit on the left of their party. Liberals are meant to be something very different. I’m not sure why you think people vote for us because they think we are ‘centrists’.

  • Nick Collins 12th Apr '14 - 10:00am

    @ Paul Walter.” It’s funny how, to understand Jeremy Browne , we have to buy his book or subscribe to the Times paywall. I would rather literally throw my money down a drain.”

    Exactly. And that’s the definitive answer to all those on the THREE threads about Browne’s book (ask yourselves: isn’t four threads devoted to Jeremy Browne’s burblings at least three too many? ) who bleat ” You mustn’t criticise Brown’s ideas until you’ve read his book”.

  • Bill le Breton 12th Apr '14 - 10:17am

    Browne repeats that old chestnut, “A lot of people who might quite like the Lib Dems they see in their locality have a difficulty getting what the Lib Dems stand for and why they are relevant.”

    I have never really understood why that should be, until I remember that those who say it have never ‘emerged’ from the community which they later represent.

    I remember Browne tripping up at the Leader’s office – a careerist. Likewise Laws arriving ‘fully formed’ in Malcolm Bruce’s office. Somerset was a good bet for the politically ambitious, so off they trooped to present themselves to the good people of Yeovil and Taunton. It might have been Bodmin or Torbay if there had been a convenient vacancy.

    That is not to say that they do not do very good jobs as caseworkers and campaigners in their adopted communities. But really they just took the campaigning techniques and the help from good community campaigners and stood on the shoulders of great local campaigners including for one Jackie Ballard and for the other Paddy Ashdown.

    The same of course is true for Nick Clegg. If you were to cut Nick in half you would see ‘out of Hampstead into Putney’ in large letters running through him. Sheffield???

    What those three never understood was that the reason for our success locally and then in the European Parliament and Westminster was our very different approach to power and what ‘office’ was for.

    Now ‘power’ is a magic word in politics. It is so ‘dangerous’ that it is surrounded by taboos and rarely brought out into the open. The whole of the ‘unwritten’ constitution of the UK is an elaborate cloak disguising the possession and use of power.

    That has always been convenient to the Labour and Conservative Parties as they were willing – given ‘buggin’s turn’ – to leave it in its dark cupboard so that when it was their ‘turn’ they could use it to reward their ‘people’ and to help retain it for continued use.

    Liberal Democrats in every council that they were elected to (and in time had influence over) worked to shine light on this darkness: to help people take and use power for themselves in their communities, so that what replaced Labour and Conservative rule was not another hegemony, but people who changed the system so that people had the information and the opportunity to exercise power over the decisions made in their community.

    Why on earth should that process stop the moment we arrived in Westminster. Power – power exercised from Whitehall – still works though communities. Nor was that how LD MPs acted upon election. They were always exposing abuse of power, they were always helping their constituents take and use more of their power in their communities.

    So, when our chance to be seen affecting decision in Whitehall came, unlike when we did this in councils or in Scotland or in Wales, we just accepted the system, accepted the existing way power is abused and played the game – actually we played the game indistinguishably from the Conservatives and Labour – no wonder people have difficulty knowing what we stood for, because for years in their localities they knew and then this ‘lot’ arrived on their TV sets and looked and did exactly what they had seen Labour and Conservative politicians do for years and years.

    Why did our leaders in Scotland and Wales in 1997 not behave the way our leaders have done in Whitehall since 2010? They has a different philosophy. Cut Jim Wallace or Mike German in half and you didn’t find Hampstead or the Foreign Office running through them, you found the soil in which they were born, bred and in which they campaigned.

    The great insight which Liberals in the 1970s realised and passed down to us by their example, is that all politics is community based; in that everyone sees things and experiences life within communities – the street, the club, the office, the factory floor, the football terrace, the book club, the sowing circle.

    Everyone wants to see power being given back to those communities so that they can *among their fellows* have more opportunities to realise their potential, not as individuals but as social beings in association with one another.

    That is how you campaign as Liberal Democrats with a very distinctive set of ideas, ambitions and actions. A manifesto supports that approach or it is not true to our core value.

    Thanks if you got this far !

  • I don’t think Paddy had a history in Yeovil when he arrived there. That said, I don’t think anyone would accuse him of arriving in Yeovil “fully formed”.

  • Nick Collins 12th Apr '14 - 10:48am

    Bill le Breton. Thank you for that. To those who come after, please do not be put off by the length of Bill le Breton’s comment; it is well worth reading.

  • If you did not read to the end of the comment from Bill le Breton 12th Apr ’14 – 10:17am
    Go back and read it again!

    This should be printed on a piece of paper and put through the letterbox of every Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate and MP.

  • ”… if we are to continue as a party of government – which almost three-quarters of Lib Dem members would like us to do – then we will have to do a deal next time with either the right-leaning Tories or left-leaning Labour. We may not place ourselves in the centre, but our circumstances do. We need to make the best of it. ….”

    The tragic thing is that the more obsessed the party becomes with positioning itself with a view to the hypothetical – and historically extremely unlikely – prospect of a hung parliament, the more it diminishes its appeal and makes a future coalition even more unlikely.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Apr '14 - 12:47pm

    First of all I’m not a fan of Jeremy Browne’s lack of loyalty at the moment. However, I can’t say much in that department.

    Secondly, I am dismayed by the absence of respect for centrism. I love centrism, for me it is about proportion, moderation and listening to people’s real concerns, no matter who they are. People can disagree with it if they like, but it is a very honourable philosophy and I don’t think it is attractive for people to show disdain for moderation.

    Thirdly, although I disagree with it, I think the centre-left is a very honourable philosophy, I share many of the centre-left’s goals, however if you want to actually make a difference, rather than be righteous losers then people should not embrace the far left.

  • Of course, Bill Le Breton’s post goes back to the essence of community politics Liberalism (the sort that was taking off with Trevor Jones in Liverpool, the Young Liberals with Tony Greaves, and all the others we remember with affection ) so I welcome the post to demonstrate the sort of thing the party collectively has believed in and struggled night and day to achieve over many years. Hence the sometimes contradictory strands in the party, when we try to integrate our localism from different places into something which will work at national level. We must remember, however, that under Jo Grimond we had a very distinctive national and international politics, and that the “local” was meant at that time to reflect our wider political approach. Since I have “done politics” as a candidate at various levels, and as a Town Councillor in a biggish town, I have tried to practise this dual approach. It has not always been easy, alongside others, who although Lib Dems, have some very different ideas, and sometimes very little of a wider credo.

    If Jeremy Browne has been a Lib Dem for 26 years, that means he joined at the outset of the new party, and at the very back end of Thatcherism, which was always (eg Clause 28 etc) a socially authoritarian movement along with its more well-known freewheeling capitalist economics, and anti worker collectivist anti public service ethos. It is quite possible that the likes of Browne (and Clegg, let’s admit) were attracted to the party’s liberal opposition to Thatcherite social policy, and because our party has often had people from all over the economic spectrum, were less aware of the great tradition of people and worker power, and of environmental action which many in our party have represented.

    In terms of locals “growing out of their communities” as representatives, that is a good thing, of course, and “Maria Miller syndrome” is clearly a bad thing. But I think Lib Dems have been guilty of taking it too far on occasion. What a Councillor or an MP needs is an understanding / empathy with the community they seek to represent. There are some who can live in a place all their life and still not really get it! By the way, Paul Walter, Paddy did quite a large amount of things in Yeovil while he was there before trying for Parliament (see his various books), including being unemployed there – an important experience.

  • Bill le Breton 12th Apr '14 - 1:29pm

    Paul, I had the pleasure of sharing a platform with Paddy well before the ’83 election when he was first elected. He also wrote interesting pamphlets on how to ensure Liberal policy was based on helping people take and use their power. Best wishes, Bill.

  • Frank Booth 12th Apr '14 - 2:19pm

    Is Labour really left-leaning? Ed Miliband perhaps, but I’m not convinced he’s got his cabinet with him, certainly not Ed Balls, student of Larry Summers. There was one idea Dugher was suggesting recently about targets for ethnic minorities in the civil service, which seemed quite radical, but what other left wing ideas have Labor been espousing?

    Banker bashing – not left wing
    Bashing energy companies – not left wing
    Raising the top rate of tax back to 50p – not left wing
    Opposing the sell off of the Post Office – not left wing

    Those who talk of equidistance between Tory and Labour (in economic terms anyway) seem to me to be those who secretly want the Lib Dems to be a Party of the right. There’s so uch talk about the centre and yet so little analysis of where the public stand on every issue. Only 50% of the public at most will vote Labour or Tory at the next election. They’ll probably only get 2/3rds of the votes at most, he rest being split between LD, Ukip, nationalists, Greens. Why should the centre be defined as halfway in between wherever David Cameron and Ed Miliband position themselves each day? This is just political tactics from people concerned with where power lies.

  • Paul Pettinger 12th Apr '14 - 4:46pm

    I wish Bill le Breton would save some of his wisdom for more Lib Dem Voice articles of his own. Jeremy Brown’s intervention also suggests Nick Clegg’s authority as leader is continuing to wane.

  • Simon Shaw

    In the pre Clegg days many Lib Dems would have supported those positions – the good old days for many of us.

  • Adam Robertson 13th Apr '14 - 12:43am

    I think what Jeremy Browne has done is sparked a debate, which I think is needed within the party. I joined the Liberal Democrats, in January 2012, because I was impressed by their attitude in dealing on how to deal with the benefits culture within Britain, as well, as the Health and Social Care Bill. I did mainly join at the time because the Lib Dems did moderate the Conservatives and still do but they are more humane and gregarious towards the population – unlike the right-wing Conservatives, who espouse Thatcherism, with no care for the poor.

    Perhaps I can be accused of joining the party because I am seen as a ‘moderator’ of the big two parties but what I have learn is that we have lost our identity, as a party, since we have been in Government. Although, there have been liberal things like Gay Marriage, which have shown our liberal side at its best, the majority of this has been lost on the population. On the doorsteps, we do get asked, “What is the point of the Liberal Democrats?”. We now just seen as a diluting force on the Conservatives or Labour in a minority council, if we have Councillors. We offer no authentic policies of our own because of the fact that we are so determined to be the ‘Coalition’ party and cause least offence to all people.

    However, we have lost our liberal identity – which I have grown to learn since I have been part of the Liberal Democrats. A lot of my friends are left-liberal but ask me, “Why are the Lib Dems, want to be seen as a party of Coalition, when they should be offering a Liberal alternative?”. I think that is a fair question to ask and I think Bill Le Breton and Tim13, raise this point effectively with the ‘community politics’ strategy, in where we engage with our electorate by being prepared to fight for our values and ideas to the community – we live in.

    This is being super-secede by the need to make the Coalition work – while our identity is being lost in the process. Although, I agree that it was right for the party to be in the Coalition, as the Conservatives, would have won an October election in 2010, we have lost the main thrust of our identity. Therefore, apart from areas where we are strong, the electorate are just going to turn away from us (maybe apart from the EU issue – where we are clearly for IN) because all we are doing is ‘moderating’ other parties, not offering them any ideas at all. This is being seen throughout from National to Local level – I am sorry to say.

  • Peter Chegwyn 13th Apr '14 - 1:53am

    Glad I enrolled Bill Le Breton into the Party some 35 years ago!

    Bill speaks sense as always.

  • “not as individuals but as social beings in association with one another” .In one brief phrase Bill has clarified the fault line running through our party between two different ways of seeing the public. The guy is a genius ! By pitching the party’s message at theoretical individuals and not at real social beings we get the poll ratings we currently do and squander our political capital. Q.E.D

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 13th Apr '14 - 8:51am

    Bill le Breton describes the party I originally joined. But the party I have tried to return to doesn’t recognise me – I’ve just received a Welcome pack. The reason I was not a member for a few years was because I didn’t recognise the party’s values had continued after 2010. It really is this centralist stuff which has taken over from local members having a say in the party they loved. Surely, if a party is run from a centralist position – everything has to be watered down in order to maintain that driving aim of being central. How can members have a say in that other than attending conference, voting and being ignored because the central management will decide anyway. I decided to give the Lib Dems one more try by playing my small part in helping to shape the Manifesto for 2015. Of course members understand that there has to be compromise when shaping a party’s election manifesto but the statement recently was that the party decision-makers would listen to what was being said by members.
    Yesterday, I laughed at the Welcome pack’s invitation to get involved; this is from the party I campaigned and literally almost died for. I’m not sure how I feel about a party which has moved so far away from the individuals it serves. I will soon find out.

  • Peter Chivall 13th Apr '14 - 9:41am

    As a Member of the Party (and its predecessor) since 1971 I have seen its ups and downs. However, Bill le Breton has described a vision of the Party and its purpose more closely and succinctly than anyone else I have heard over the years. Our problem now is that during the Blair years we suffered the sort of ‘entryism’ that other larger Parties suffered. Our ‘entryists’ were not essentially ideological: most of them were young men ‘on the make’. I remember these hordes of 20somethings in suits and white shirts at Bournemouth and Brighton in the’noughties’ talking earnestly with each other about who had been shortlisted for which seat. Not one of them seemed to me to belong as Liberal Democrats.
    Fortunately, few, if any, got elected in 2010, but their influence seems to pervade HQ and the Parliamentary staff, of whom surprisingly few seem to have any understanding of the Pary’s roots and underlying values, and I suspect many of them aren’t even Party members.
    And there’s the rub: on our Membership cards is printed the famous extract from the Preamble to our constitution. Those advising the Leader should recite it to themselve every morning with their croissants and coffee: if they can’t accept it and its implications, they should find another job.

  • Martin Pierce 13th Apr '14 - 10:02am

    What Bill le Breton said in his post…. The funny thing about Browne (or at least what The Times reported him as saying) is that I agree with him! Except it is Browne and Clegg and his ilk that have made us pointless – for the reasons Bill sets out. The truly excruciating things about the Coalition are: (a) we have had an opportunity to show what Lib Dem government might be like for the first time in my 50 years on the planet and 30 years in the Party – and we have thrown it away, and (b) – worse if anything – it will now be impossible to persuade voters in the future that Lib Dem government could be fundamentally different and better

  • Meanwhile, in other news, the Party is now polling at 7% according to two different polls today.

  • Malcolm Todd 13th Apr '14 - 11:46am

    Jedibeeftrix
    “You know, of course, the old saw about the benefits of keeping people inside the tent?”

    The “old saw”, of course, assumes that people inside the tent will open the flap and aim their p— outwards.

  • Nigel Quinton 14th Apr '14 - 11:57am

    Sorry to comment late but just had to add my thanks to Bill le Breton for reminding me why I still have my membership card. Isn’t it about time that those who believe in ‘what Bill said’ actually got moving and removed our disastrous leadership?

  • Stephen Howse 14th Apr '14 - 3:01pm

    “The great insight which Liberals in the 1970s realised and passed down to us by their example, is that all politics is community based; in that everyone sees things and experiences life within communities – the street, the club, the office, the factory floor, the football terrace, the book club, the sowing circle. ”

    Noble words. But the reality is that not all politics is community-based; not anymore. That might’ve been true when the theory of Community Politics was first articulated and published, but now we are living in a country where “Did Not Vote” is going to win a plurality at the next General Election, and where for an increasing number, particularly amongst the young, politics now means signing an e-petition or retweeting something.

    In many ways, it is a good thing that the political parties are losing grip – in their place, a multitude of campaigning groups, charities and community groups are coming to the fore. People are still engaging politically, but they are not engaged with political parties. And why should they be – we have so much choice and so much control in the rest of our lives that the old binary model of politics is hopelessly outdated. Why campaign for a party, warts and all, when you could pick out the one or two issues you really care about and campaign for those?

    So community politics is important and it has its place – but we cannot and should not neglect the big challenges of the day, the big issues which require visionary thinking, which are bigger than my neighbourhood and yours.

  • I commend Bill le Breton on his focus on the empowerment of local communities that is at the heart of Liberal philosophy.

    Stephen Howse notes “So community politics is important and it has its place – but we cannot and should not neglect the big challenges of the day, the big issues which require visionary thinking, which are bigger than my neighbourhood and yours.”

    I would remind Stephen of that commonly used phrase coined by the former US speaker of the house, Tip O’Neill – “All politics is local” that encapsulates the principle that a politician’s success is directly tied to his ability to understand and influence the issues of his constituents. Politicians must appeal to the simple, mundane and everyday concerns of those who elect them into office. Those personal issues, rather than big and intangible ideas, are often what voters care most about,

    The concept is contrary to the notion that most people, somehow, in local elections are casting votes to “send a message” to the highest levels; instead, the principle predicts that most people will not decide who to vote for in local elections simply as a means to act on feelings about national politicians, such as concerns about a current prime minister, but that they make decisions based on how they feel local interests are being addressed. The prediction is that most people who vote, or debate issues, are focused on resolving their local issues.

    During the 1982 congressional elections, O’Neill introduced a $1-billion jobs bill to the table. House Republican Leader Robert H. Michel of Peoria, Illinois opposed the bill, but O’Neill delivered an address broadcast in Peoria that showed how many infrastructure problems in Peoria would be fixed by the bill. By hitting his rival where he lived, O’Neill translated a wholesale debate over national economic policy to the local, retail level.

  • Stephen Howse 14th Apr '14 - 4:53pm

    ‘I would remind Stephen of that commonly used phrase coined by the former US speaker of the house, Tip O’Neill – “All politics is local” that encapsulates the principle that a politician’s success is directly tied to his ability to understand and influence the issues of his constituents. Politicians must appeal to the simple, mundane and everyday concerns of those who elect them into office. Those personal issues, rather than big and intangible ideas, are often what voters care most about.’

    A good point you make there – but the intangible stuff still needs to be addressed as part of that, specifically its effect or lack thereof on the local area. (E.g. hysteria over immigration from people living in 98% White British shire counties.)

  • Chris Manners 14th Apr '14 - 5:27pm

    “All politics is local”

    If it were, people would vote in local elections.

  • David Evershed 18th Apr '14 - 4:01pm

    Bill le Breton makes the point that one of the distinguishing features of being Lib Dem is that politics should be community based.

    In the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution it says:

    “We are determined to strengthen the democratic process and ensure that there is a just and representative system of government with …….. decisions taken at the lowest practicable level”

    This is consistent with Bill le Breton’s theme.

    However, teh preamble also says:
    “Within the European Community we affirm the values of federalism and integration and work for unity based on these principles” Not much localism in this statement.

    So is the community referred to in the Constitution meant to be the European Community rather than the local communities which Bill lists as “the street, the club, the office, the factory floor, the football terrace, the book club, the sowing circle”?

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