What’s the point?

In the few days since Ed Davey was announced as our new leader, I’ve been saddened to see more than a few  people, good solid liberals,  thinking about leaving the party. It’s worrying that both young people, and longstanding activists and councillors, are questioning whether the party can recover sufficiently to deliver the liberal country where no-one is enslaved by poverty ignorance and conformity, to quote the preamble to our Constitution, that we all want to see.

I’ve had many such conversations over the last few days. What has been particularly disappointing is the way in which some supporters of Ed have been so aggressive to those expressing their concerns on social media. One senior activist who should know better told another to “jog on” out of the party. The aggressors sounded more like the Brexiteers baiting Remainers in the aftermath of the EU referendum than members of a liberal party and it was really sad to see. Of course people are going to let their emotions show on social media when they’ve lost and the way to deal with it is with grace, sensitivity and kindness, not aggression and cruelty. I am pretty sure that Ed himself would not condone this behaviour and they do him no credit whatsoever.

So why is it that people are questioning their future in the party, particularly those who survived the coalition years?

It’s nothing personal about Ed. It’s more that the party has seemingly chosen a path that will lead to more of what they see as the bland managerial centrism that, let’s face it, has not done us many favours in the past 10 years. They are simply not up for more of the same and don’t believe that the party can recover if it pursues this tactic. “What’s the point?” is something I’ve heard a few times.

I do have some sympathy with that. This party is at its best when it is bold and radical and does the right thing, not necessarily the popular thing. The voters weren’t exactly clamouring for Paddy to stand up for the rights of citizens of Hong Kong, but it was the right thing to do and he enhanced his reputation by making that argument.  We forget how massive a thing it was when Charles Kennedy opposed the Iraq War. It took a huge amount of political courage to take that stance and he took absolute pelters for it at the time, but he was ultimately proved right.

It is the language we use and how it resonates with people that will be crucial in our future success. We have not been very good at articulating what we are for and telling our story. Ed Davey was right to say that we are going to concentrate on listening to voters. That part of his acceptance speech jarred with me a bit because that is our trademark in so many of our local campaigns that we actually give a damn what people think. But then, that is not the perception people have of us nationally and, let’s face it, party members were not the focus of his remarks. However, I did find the phrase “National Listening Project” more Orwellian than empathetic. They might want to fine tune that one.

I do understand why people have been thinking about leaving the party and I really hope that they don’t. Ed has his mandate now and he needs to be given the chance to show that he can deliver on what he said during the campaign. I will be staying because I strongly believe that the immense talent within the parliamentary party, within our council groups up and down the country and amongst our talented staff and volunteers up and down the country can get us back on track if we work together and co-ordinate our efforts. We need to show that we are operating on the same set of values across the whole of the UK.

If I have any anxieties it is on tactics, not values. If I thought that any of our leaders didn’t share the values in our Preamble, I’d have been out the door a long time ago. And you can see how they have been living our principles in what they have been doing in Parliament. Jamie Stone fighting for those who have excluded from government help during the pandemic. Christine Jardine trying to achieve indefinite leave to remain for NHS and care staff who have been on the Covid front line (more on that later this week when she launches her Bill on that subject), Layla leading with her Coronavirus enquiry making sensible recommendations to avoid a second wave of the virus, Munira holding the government to account for its failures on test and trace and in care homes to name many issues, Alistair pushing the government to do more to press China on their horrific treatment of the Uighurs. Daisy fighting for freelancers and for more help for the creative industries.

We have a mountain to climb and we can all play our part, nationally and locally, in the party’s recovery. First stop on the campaign trail is 11 council by-elections in Scotland scheduled for this Autumn. Then a huge number of national, London and local elections in May.

This country really needs a liberal party which will fight for human rights, civil liberties and against inequality and poverty. We are it and people at the sharp end of this awful government’s incompetence and ideology need us to be there for them. People struggling with no income, in poor housing, who desperately need libraries to help them learn, whose relatives need decent social care are relying on us.

That, for me, is the point in being part of this movement. Together we can win again and make people’s lives better at Council, Scottish and Welsh Government and London level.

I also remember that in 1999 I was more than a bit “meh” after Charles Kennedy won. I voted for Jackie Ballard in that one and I was not entirely convinced that the Establishment-backed Kennedy would be much good as leader. And then he did the right thing at a crucial moment and he earned the respect and affection of a nation. It was a lesson to me not to judge too hastily.

 

 

 

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

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82 Comments

  • To be honest I’m not sure that articles like this are particularly helpful. Ed has just won an overwhelming mandate from the party membership as a whole- he now deserves the chance to implement the plans and ideas that win a huge victory without sniping and abuse from within the party.

    Layla has had the same opportunity as Ed to outline her vision over the last few months and that has been rejected by the vast majority of members. It is disappointing to see some Layla supporters now using threats of resignation to try and force through an agenda that the membership do not support.

    I also struggle to see how anyone who watched Ed’s victory speech could possibly think that his plan is for ‘more of the same’. He was explicitly clear that we have become out of touch with the concerns of ordinary voters, and that we will not win more seats until we change as a party.

  • @John smith. If you actually read the article you’ll find that I do actually say that Ed needs to be given the chance to deliver on his mandate. However, it is concerning that so many people are considering leaving the party or have done so and that just can’t be swept under the carpet.

    I’m trying to offer them some good reasons to stay.

  • ” People struggling with no income, in poor housing, who desperately need libraries to help them learn, whose relatives need decent social care are relying on us.”

    If they’d done that – and been seen to do it – between 2010-15, Caron , instead of making things worse there wouldn’t have been a problem.

    And if they’d taken a bit more notice of the Alston’ UN Report on Poverty and Inequality in the UK’ in the last two years there’d have been even less of a problem. Repeated efforts have been made by some of us to draw their attention to it ……. with absolutely no success.

    If you personally could press these points with the people I know you know, you would be doing a great service to the party some of us have supported with heart and soul until very recently for well over fifty years.

    Listening, Sir Edward, should be the precursor to informed action.

  • George Kendall 30th Aug '20 - 6:28pm

    Hi Caron,

    I completely agree that we need to come together. We are a broad church, and that no one should be telling anyone else to leave. We should be tolerant of different views, and not condemn other party members as beyond the pale because they have a different opinion.

    But if we are calling for people to come together we would be wise to be careful about our language, and I’m afraid I’m not sure you have in your article.

    You appear to be implying that Tim Farron, Vince Cable and Jo Swinson were leading the party with “bland managerial centrism”, that Ed is the same, and so are those who voted for Ed Davey. That’s going to upset a lot of people who voted for Ed.

    You name the key radical points of Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy’s leaderships, but in many other policy areas, I remember exactly the same criticisms made of them. All our leaders since 2015 have had key radical points. On Brexit our leaders were anything but bland, though there will always be people who want a policy to go further. In 2017, we were the only nationwide party that allocated funds in our manifesto to reverse the 2015 Tory benefit cuts.

    We are a broad church. If people want to used words that will upset those who voted for Ed, they have the right to do so. But if they want calm tensions and help bring the party together after a bruising context, it might be better if they didn’t.

  • James Burgon 30th Aug '20 - 6:30pm

    Thanks for writing this: I’ve been feeling increasingly demotivated by recent events, including voices I respect questioning their place in the party. Articles like this definitely help those of us who are wavering.

  • A good article.

    And it’s disappointing if people have been nasty to fellow lib Dems on social media.

    I would add two things.

    Good or bad – elections are pure fiction. Never sadly as good – or as bad -as you think they are!

    Of course people lick their wounds when they go badly for them but the mistake I have made is not realising what seems a brick wall is a mere speed bump! But of course that needs support from people around you. And I remember losing my council seat (for the first time I am a serial loser!) and I was the only one to lose my seat locally that year! And a lot more TLC and support from my colleagues would have been nice. But it wasn’t the end of the world either. So support people. And hopefully if people can it’s best to try and treat life’s setbacks as mere speed bumps not brick walls! Even if that’s easier said than done!!!

    Secondly remember that paddy ashdown did not give up the fight when we were a mere asterisk in the opinion polls. (Not actually true but it makes a good story and we were not high in them). We owe it to Paddy, Charles, David Rendell (my voice in that election) and all the great liberals before us to get up, put something on a bit of paper, shove it through someone’s letter box and make this country a great liberal country because as Caron says it’s at its best when it is a great liberal country!

    …and besides a bit of exercise makes you feel better!

  • Democracy is not the dictatorship of the majority. Those that see this as a win, should consider the wider view.

  • Stephen Howse 30th Aug '20 - 6:55pm

    Good piece, Caron.

    I think the lesson at the end re: Kennedy is one people’d do well to imbibe. Don’t judge Ed before he’s had a chance to show what he can do now he’s the leader and we are no longer in limbo.

    I think the phrase ‘act in haste, repent in leisure’ is one people’d do well to remember, as well. Give him time. If you’re still not feeling it, reassess your options. And always, *always* remember that there is more to life than party politics, you’re not obligated to stick around, you do have a choice and your own future is yours to make for yourself. Maybe a little perspective would do some good.

  • Walsall Liberal 30th Aug '20 - 7:08pm

    Give Ed a chance. He has just won a big victory and deserves the opportunity to give Liberalism a boost in our country

  • John Littler 30th Aug '20 - 7:09pm

    Any individual noticing a number of people leaving is only ever likely to be anecdotal as there is a lot of churn in terms of people joining and leaving and nobody is likely to be able to see more than a tiny fraction of what is going on.

    But Ed does risk getting lumped in with the Clegg era and centre right works. It is not a position in UK politics under FPTP that can exist, next to the internal coalition that is the Tory Party.

    Ed had better put his best radical hat on and come upon with some innovative headline policies that grab attention and don’t just get lost in endless policy documents. He needs to be bold and to to out think and outdo the slow moving Labour Party, with it’s Union and affiliate baggages.

    Ed needs to figure out what out of this government, annoys Tory voters and to make a list of them and keep banging them out until they sink in

    Ed also need to work his vocal presentation style which is presently soporific and would be great for Jackanory, but not for modern media.

  • I don’t want anyone to leave the Party.

    As I have only been a member since October 2019, I don’t have a wide Party network yet, so nobody has shared such thoughts with me yet. If they did, I would ask them to pause and ask themselves why nearly 2/3 of members voted for Ed. Does the disaffected member really think that all 2/3 fail to understand UK politics and what it takes to make the Lib Dems relevant?

    Full disclosure: I nominated Ed through the nomination system, and tweeted that I had done so. However if Layla Moran had won, I would be preparing to march forwards under her leadership, not taking my bat and ball home because my preferred candidate had not won.

    In July 2019, I would have remained in the Conservative Party had anyone won the leadership other than Mr Johnsoin. I resigned from the Conservative Party only because I considered Mr Johnson morally unfit to be Conservative Leader. That is the threshold before you leave a political party due to concerns about its leader.

  • John Marriott 30th Aug '20 - 7:18pm

    @Caron Lindsay
    I could say a great deal about why the Lib Dems are currently where they are. I won’t, mainly because I did not renew my membership a couple of years ago. You will notice that I did not say that I had “left the party” because I still want it to succeed, as I know that it has in its ranks some very sincere and dedicated people, who are possibly too idealist for their own good.

    Let me just draw your attention to the paragraph in which you highlight the way that Lib Dem MPs are, as you put it, “living our principles”. Your average citizen would read what you wrote and probably think “fine; but so what?” If that is all that the Lib Dems are prepared to offer instead of addressing the real issues that affect the lives of the majority of our citizens, then 6% in the opinion polls may indeed be a reflection of the party’s relevance at the moment.

  • “I am pretty sure that Ed himself would not condone this behaviour”

    It’d be good if he said so, very publicly.

  • James Belchamber 30th Aug '20 - 7:37pm

    Far too much of LDV’s front-page is currently articles about disaffected Layla supporters. You’d have thought that a significant proportion of the membership was planning on leaving!

    As many have pointed out now, this isn’t reflected in the wider party – indeed, many people are bewildered by these kinds of stories. The overwhelming viewpoint I’m hearing (outside of Lib Dem Twitter) is that both were good candidates, and they’re pleased we picked one of them, and we need to now turn our fight to the Tories.

    People should be allowed to grieve a loss, and if this means they no longer feel they have a place in the party then they should feel no guilt in leaving (or step back for a bit). Hopefully in time Ed can bring them round, and I hope we can rebuild in a way that they again feel included, and I would be the first to welcome them back.

    But there needs to be a sense of proportion – one of these articles was surely enough.

  • Two brief points:

    To the comment by @John smith – it’s describing the ideas generated by Layla’s campaign as having been “rejected” by the membership that is going to cause problems. If that is the approach to be adopted towards the ideas supported by a third of the party we’re not going to all get along or pull together.

    The broad church point is well intentioned and broadly true, but my feeling is that many of us are considering how we can be useful in society, what this results indicates about the intentions of the party and, therefore, if the Lib Dems are now likely to help us realise that. For many our starting point will, of course, be to stay to influence and campaign. But we need time to reflect. Personally, it’s probably convenient that Lisa Nandy didn’t win the Labour race because otherwise that decision would now be a lot harder. I’d be prepared for some more serious organising by groups to continue the ‘Layla agenda’ and, as some good recent articles have observed, would it be such a bad thing if internal debates were a little tougher?

  • Peter Taylor 30th Aug '20 - 9:15pm

    @Mohammed 2/3 of members *didn’t* vote for Ed. Not even 2/5, in fact. That is a huge problem that the party needs to address somehow.

  • I’m not sure we are strong enough as a party to shut out any factions, and with 11MPs we couldn’t do it if we tried. So those who backed Layla should have no fears about being left out. Indeed one of Ed Daveys characteristics is bringing out the strengths in others – I would expect things to be a lot less presidential now.

    However like others I have to query “ It’s more that the party has seemingly chosen a path that will lead to more of what they see as the bland managerial centrism” as appropriate. That argument has been tested to destruction in the leadership campaign and shown for the fallacy it is. The differences between the candidates were trivial compared to the range in the leadership contests of the big two.

  • @ Peter Taylor

    I stand corrected about the slight imprecision. I should have written “Ed got nearly 2/3 of the votes.”

    I make no assumptions about those who did not vote.

    I have never abstained in either local, national, or party elections, because one is never completely indifferent about the candidates. All elections are about voting for the candidate you feel most aligned with, out of the candidates on the ballot paper, not about seeking a candidate where you feel 100% aligned before you will vote for them.

    Either those who abstained were equally happy with both candidates, or they were waiting for the perfect candidate who does not exist.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Aug '20 - 10:30pm

    We need to fight poverty. There are 4.1 million children living in poverty in this country, and that seems all too likely to increase under this government and with the increasing post-Covid unemployment. It’s in our Preamble – ‘No-one shall be enslaved by poverty…’ and when I asked Sir Ed to make it his first priority, in the very first hustings, he said yes he would, quoting the Preamble and saying Beveridge inspired him too. We have to hold him to that, and if he will take it as part of the Social Contract the country needs, he has a great overarching theme to campaign on, poverty being the first of the five major social ills which the Social Contract is to combat.

    The trouble with our party is that we keep blundering. It was a bad blunder, as David Raw keeps reminding us, to ignore the devastating report of the UN Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, published in May last year, following his fact-finding visit of November 2018. It was a terrible blunder last autumn to have our then leader’s hubristic campaign along with the mistaken Revoke policy. What a waste that was, after the heights we reached with the local elections of May last year, and the amazing success of the European campaign too.

    However, we DID reach some heights last year, so no reason why we can’t do so again, with this dedicated and vastly experienced new leader. Rebecca Hanson, one of our Cumbrian county councillors and a nominator of Ed, has written an enthusiastic blog about his understanding and wisdom over energy choices and development, and I too remember being similarly struck when he talked to us during Rebecca’s Copeland by-election campaign. Putting Social Contract principles along with his Green New Deal, Ed has plenty of scope for leading us in a bold new initiative.

    Besides, we have a failing government, with a Prime Minister offending his own party and losing their lead in the polls. and an Official Opposition still so far from united that bright new initiatives seem unlikely from them. This gives us opportunity this autumn to help our suffering country, and our party’s fortunes will surely rise if we can do so.

  • @Doug Buist

    Any election is about different candidates putting forward different ideas that voters then make a judgement on. I could see your argument if this had been a close result, but the fact is that Layla’s platform was not supported by the vast majority of those who voted.

    It makes little sense then why Ed should have any obligation to implement a plan that has been overwhelmingly rejected by the membership, just because a few people on twitter supported it.

  • @John Smith

    Your approach is far too polarised. Just because one candidate decisively won the election with a clear majority of votes cast does not necessarily imply that the platform of his opponent was “overwhelmingly rejected”. For many members, the choice between the contrasting personal qualities and platforms of both candidates will have been an agonisingly difficult process and, ultimately, quite a marginal decision – and, for whatever reasons, 43% of members opted out altogether.

    So, in these circumstances, nobody should be feeling too triumphalist … and I trust that Ed, if not some of his more bellicose supporters, will show due sensitivity to the concerns of those who are sceptical and will also seek to uphold our liberal values of inclusivity and respect for diversity of opinion. However, we must accept that he has won a legitimate mandate and now give him a chance to demonstrate how he actually intends to lead the party.

  • The first comment on Caron’s reasoned piece was from someone (presumably from the Ed team) rubbishing it … I cannot see that we can be a unified party any more. The establishment don’t want radical politics – they want steady-as-it-goes boring mushy politics. Ed is the champion of that … you cannot deny that Ed’s leadership will be “not rocking the boat”. I am sorry that so many in the party thought that was a good way to reconnect with the people who feel that no-one speaks for them.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 31st Aug '20 - 1:22am

    Can unify or divide as a result of elections or articles. The election might have accomplished one or other .This article from Caron attempts the former with a helpful aim, but does the latter by accident only in its language on centrists.

    george kendall picks this up as he often does, by offering a sensible point to consider, and we ought to.

    was the rhetoric of Farron, Cable, Swinson, bland, centrist? I’d say the opposite. We got extreme anti Never Brexit, and more, swearing on shirts in the European parliamentary sphere, revoke, and inability to listen, or offer the middle way beloved of so called centrists.

    As for including the coalition years in that description, the government of Cameron clegg was not lousy when centrist, but was good, its being lousy was on punishing those at the bottom, not very top, right wing stuff, not centrist.

    The present government is social democrat in comparison, left of Blair on spending, and very to the left of the coalition on economic agenda in practice. The facts need to be spoken. What we hear is views based on little but rhetoric in politics. This article is not that, that phrase does not fit the rest.

    If we yearn, as liberals, for truth, let us admit. it is Mohammed Amin who is right. People like or dislike individuals. He would be a Tory, his described reason not, Johnson. Sunak a year ago, no Mohammed Amin here.

    Some of us preferred Layla. If anyone leaves because she is not leader, its not due to views. You cannot put a policy forward, where there was real disagreement, in hustings. I voted for her because she is more open minded, than Ed and , less knee jerk, more considering of issues, less rhetorical posture. She is also, as was Jo, less likely to pander to those she does not necessarily agree with, and neither change position on many issues. For my views, in the broad centre ground on much, centre left on some, centre right on conscience ones, Layla, as with Jo, offered more. I like Ed, as a person and mp. His coalition loyalty bothers me, as does his automatic disagreement with all the Tories do since, even when they are good and correct. Example, support for decriminalisation of non payment of tv licence, Ed, Daisy, ought to be enthusing us about this highly liberal notion, supported now, as ever, by most of us as members, and truly Liberal mps or peers like the rarely mentioned, terrific, Ming!

  • I agree with Caron. The Party is more than just the leader. I also didn’t vote for Charles in 1999. I think I voted for Simon Hughes by a short head over David Rendel but it’s a long time ago so difficult to recall.

    Let’s hope Ed exceeds my expectations to the extent that Charles did.

  • Richard Easter 31st Aug '20 - 6:22am

    Davey is simply too right wing for me. I cannot be the only one with this feeling. I hope the aim now is for the party to make the best of the situation and aim to be a centre right alternative to the Tories, and go on an aggressive attack on M25 Tory seats – especially unpopular figures such as Hunt, Grayling, Gove, Raab and others it may be able to dislodge.

    I cannot see how Davey can appeal to the centre left at all, given his support for market economics, privatisation and anti trade union viewpoints. Therefore the FDP strategy is the best bet.

    I wonder if this makes me a “yellow Starmerite”.

  • I don’t get all the angst. We had an election and somebody won. They are now the leader of the Party. I go back to the days of Grimond and until Tim Farron I had never voted for the person who won the leadership. I was “Anyone But Kennedy” and he ended up, rather by default, as being one of our most popular leaders. As I keep saying, we have lost sight of our key values and need to get back to focusing on those rather than believing that any one person has the ability or ideas to lead us out of the slough of despond.

  • This is a very good article – if people take the trouble to read through to the end.

    I seem to remember that Paddy had a national listening project, although perhaps he didn’t make it sounds so Orwellian. He went round the country “in civvies” helping with charity work and community projects and such like. In fact I think he wrote a book about it.

    It was all very typical Paddy, hands-on and get-stuck-in:

    “Amid stories of doom and gloom, in 1993 Paddy Ashdown set off to see for himself what was going on in Britain. He travelled up and down the country – from Cornwall to Orkney – spending time on housing estates, in schools and factories, with social workers and policemen, working alongside miners, dustmen, farmers and fishermen, talking to pensioners, gay rights activists, town planners, schoolchildren. And he discovered an astonishing and unexpected fund of strength, courage and resourcefulness. This book is a journal of his travels and paints a vivid portrait of Britain today. All is far from well – the recession has hit hard and daily life for millions is a struggle. But time and time again, the author was struck by the way that local communities have found ways forward, ingenious solutions to problems that from Westminster look insoluble.”

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Westminster-Finding-Hope-Britain/dp/067171340X/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&qid=1598858580&refinements=p_27%3APaddy+Ashdown&s=books&sr=1-5

  • Humphrey Hawksley 31st Aug '20 - 8:39am

    Thank you, Caron. All that needed to be said clearly and openly. There is a culture within the Liberal Democrats that needs to be eradicated. When things go wrong and decisions don’t work, the culture is to turn on others within the Party creating internal division and recrimination. Coalition, tuition fees, stopping Brexit, why and how elections were lost, are but few examples and huge energy is wasted. The Party is not an activist group, nor is it a communal therapist created to listen to people. It is a well-organized political movement which in the current center ground vacuum and with the right unequivocal message should be gathering support to win seats. In politics, a lot doesn’t work. Most things do not go your way. You have to pick yourself up, brush yourself down and move on. To those considering leaving because the leadership election didn’t work for them, maybe think how best to use your time. Maybe politics are not for you.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 31st Aug '20 - 8:43am

    Sadly, this has been quite an acrimonious contest. What is needed now is for both sides to show kindness to the other.
    This article does, I feel, give the misleading impression that aggression on social media has been all, or mostly, from Ed’s supporters. Actually there have been some aggressive, even abusive, posts on social media from both sides. I have seen, or heard of, many very unpleasant personal attacks against Ed’s supporters, or Ed himself – some even mentioning Ed’s family. *Any* personal abuse on social media or elsewhere is unacceptable.
    It is right to discuss the feelings of disappointment that many people do have at the moment, and as Caron says, these feelings should not be “brushed under the carpet”.
    But I feel rather uneasy that Caron, as the Editor of Lib Dem Voice, should write an article which makes it so clear that she shares this disappointment, and is so very pessimistic about our new leader. Wasn’t the editorial team supposed to be neutral in the contest, whatever their personal views?

  • Paul Murray 31st Aug '20 - 8:43am

    A 57% turnout in a leadership election says far more about the state of the party than any individual can say about it.

  • I’ve vote for Ed – twice. But really disappointed by his ‘not fighting the culture war and going off to listen to people and understand their concerns.

    What concerns are those? Racism? Islamophobia, Anti-trans people. Liberalism isn’t about listening to the intolerant it’s about confronting it. If those on the right want a culture war that consists of making those who are a bit different feel afraid and vulnerable than that needs standing up against.

    As I’ve said numerous times I don’t think the party now is the same party it was previously. The centre of gravity has shifted quite a bit. Whether I renew my membership is a bit 50/50 (and I don’t do anything meaningful in any case). Whilst is (now) a poor fit for my beliefs it is better than anything else on offer.

    What I would say to those thinking of leaving though is this. When you leave, no-one cares 🙂

  • John Marriott 31st Aug '20 - 9:03am

    Quite clearly, Sir Ed doesn’t excite some people like Layla Moran clearly does. However the big world out there is not really interested in excitement, especially after having a bellyful of Johnson.

    Just say that Ms Moran had won. I can imagine a few of our more notorious pundits in the media would have been salivating at the prospects of mischief afforded them by her much publicised private life and other positions she has taken. She might have great ideas; but would she have been able to get them across. Surely you know how people lap up tittle tattle and irrelevances. Indeed, how they get the wrong end of the stick.

    He might be boring to radicals and too right wing for some; but, as a human being, Sir Ed has a back catalogue with which many people can identify. I lost my own mother at an early age; but I still had my dad and my granny to bring me up. Since then, domestically speaking, life has been pretty good. I wonder how I might have coped had I had the problems that Sir Ed has had to face. Good luck to him, I say and stop carping you lot – unless you feel like forming or joining another party.

  • Peter Martin 31st Aug '20 - 9:56am

    ” It was a bad blunder…..to ignore the devastating report of …. Philip Alston, published in May last year…..”

    Yes. However, the Alston report isn’t much discussed in left wing circles. The feeling is that we don’t need the UN or any “Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights” to tell us what we already knew anyway. Anyone can see it all for themselves.

    A report isn’t going to change anything. Either you want to do something about the problem or you don’t. And you have to do the right things are not start spruiking neo-liberally based non-solutions like the UBI.

  • “People struggling ….. are relying on us”. The point surely is that they are not; they do not even consider us relevant and most of them do not know who to turn to. Apart from that I like Caron’s article.
    People who are struggling pick up the occasional simple message that seems to promise them help, often coming from the Tories. At the moment they probably are ignoring Labour as well as us, since there is no clear message yet from Kier Starmer as to exactly what Labour want to achieve for people. On the other hand, sophisticated thinking people are starting to like the calm but strong thoughtful way that Kier Starmer speaks and I know a few Lib-Dem members who are tempted to switch to Labour now, particularly because of what they read in the Guardian and the assumption that Labour is still on the side of greater economic equality. They also feel that because of its size, Labour is in a stronger position than us to bring down Boris and his cronies.

  • Peter Martin 31st Aug '20 - 10:22am

    On a more positive note:

    The dominant paradigm in macroeconomics , New Keynesianism, (should really be Not Keynesianism) has been steadily disintegrating as the difference between its empirical predictions and reality becomes too great to ignore. The pandemic has, of course, been the big problem worldwide in 2020. Still, every cloud has its silver lining. We might have finally jettisoned the mainstream economics fictions about government deficits and debt, which have hampered prosperity over several decades. Rishi Sunak has been remarkably pragmatic in his economic response to the Covid19 lockdown.. There are still a few who are still asking “where the money is going to come from” and if it’s fair “to burden our grandchildren with debt” and all the other nonsense we used to hear ten years ago but that’s no longer the mainstream view.

    There is a general consensus that we can’t return to austerity economics. No matter how “bad” the debt and the deficit might start to look. If the Tory party can change as much as it has then surely the Lib Dems, even under Ed Davey, can change even more. A change in economic thinking will be more significant than any report on poverty from the UN.

  • James Fowler 31st Aug '20 - 10:28am

    Interesting article and interesting comments. In my view Layla Moran’s campaign banked heavily on channeling the kind of angry idealism that was much in evidence elsewhere when Jeremy Corbyn was Labour leader. I saw this type of politics as a busted flush in its own terms, and in a crowded marketplace in which Labour and Green would always be more credible vendors than us. If someone is in search of a radical torch bearer then Ed Davey is indeed hardly the man. Frustrated radicals may well depart for the Greens or just sit this out.

    What I find curious about their surprise and annoyance is that history shows that the majority of LD and Lib leaders have been solid establishment figures. Grimond and Thorpe had impeccable credentials, as did Ashdown and later Campbell and Clegg. Both Steel and Kennedy managed to have a foot in both camps by presenting their Scottish connections and origins as making them semi-‘outsiders’ to the English establishment. The only truly non-conformist radical in our times was Tim Farron. As I see it, the LDs are historically an establishment party with a radical fringe – a legacy of 19th century religious non-conformity, re-invented in the 1960s and 70s as part of the ‘small is beautiful’ romantic revolt.

    There are a lot of radical complaints about being marginalised, but actually non-conformist voices are loud in the Party, a function of our distance from actual power. This also partly explains the volume of disgruntlement – a more sedentary majority have made a clear choice – which can be highly unexpected and deeply irritating to the strongly motivated. Radicalism delivers vital energy, but quickly gets high on its own hyperbole and can have a very tin ear to the quotidian rhythms of normal life which voters venerate.

  • Katharine Pindar 31st Aug '20 - 10:43am

    Ed describes himself as centre-left. Give him a chance to show it. I agree with Sean Hagan, it was quire a difficult choice for many of us, which may also be a reason for many not voting at all. I voted for Ed in both elections, but I think Layla has a lot to offer the party and I hope she will have an influential role.

  • Much as I am so disillusioned with the state of our country and the way it a being governed at present it is even more dispiriting to realise that the Liberal Democrats are just as petty, mean spirited and unfriendly as other political party’s. Differences of opinion is usual and welcome on diverse subjects but the present anger and conflict caused by the leadership election has been a bit of an eye opener. As a man of a certain age I have no time for social media and contributing on this site has been my first entry into this type of interaction and perhaps I have have had my doubts about such participation confirmed. Life has changed a great deal for my wife and I over the these past months not the least being my long held political beliefs. Very naive of me I know!

  • @Martin, my experience is not so much the list of concerns you post but more a concern that some people feel that they are expected to change their beliefs to accommodate those people who are choosing to make their home here. For example over the last two decades governments have almost snapped their own spine when talking about cultural sensitivity but also attempting to condem actions such as female genital mutilation (how many prosecutions so far this year?), honour killing and forced marriage. At the same time we have some politicians and leaders openly stating that Shia law and courts should be accepted in Britain, that angers some people. Also some legitimate concern not so much about immigration, but numbers, it is notable that most politicians run away when asked what they think is a sustainable population for Britain, eighty million? one hundred million? Eighty is already on the cards yet we don’t have a modern infrastructure to service our current poulation.These are the concerns I hear people raising not transphobia, homophobia or racism as you suggest.

  • neil sandison 31st Aug '20 - 11:14am

    As far as I am concerned Ed Davey is still in a probationary period in his new job ,Its up to him to prove he is worthy of the members support and up to the challenge . I hear the words from Ed but I don’t feel their is much substance in his comments . Should he stand up for local democracy and say no to the further cancellation of local elections where the Tories have no mandate for that cancellation ( even with COVID 19 we could have full postal elections and electronic counting ) We could speed up our climate change policies under Ed by adopting some of Laylas proposals on car scrappage and a hydrogen and Methane gas network if it is an emergency Ed treat it as one.

  • Christopher Curtis 31st Aug '20 - 11:29am

    I found this helpful.

    I was really not sure who to vote for and made my decision not knowing whether I was right or not, despite reading material from both candidates and watching some hustings. The contest seemed interminable and I didn’t get any more clarity or enthusiasm the more it went on. I wonder if others in that situation did not vote: the turnout was remarkably low and that’s probably the most significant thing.

    I can understand people giving up on membership. I’ve been a member since just after the referendum but I still have no real idea what that means except I get lots of emails asking me to donate or to attend conference. I don’t feel like I am a part of anything much, really. The pandemic hasn’t helped recently, but no-one has ever reached out to find out about me, why I joined, what I might offer, how I might help. I get occasional offers to train in existing processes and systems and campaigning, but I don’t know what they are for, how they work, whether they work and I have deep doubts abut whether I want to be a part of the usual processes that accumulate masses of data on potential voters and target them with phone calls and messaging.

    The election review was a breath of fresh air, calling us to examine what we do, how we do it, how we are structured and what we are for. A common theme was just how bad we are at digital and online. Ed is committed to “implement” it, but that already seems to be happening in structures and meetings that are exactly like all the other structures and meetings that don’t seem to help.

    Sorry to be so negative. Politically, LibDem values and approaches are where I belong, but does it have to be with a party that doesn’t seem able to make itself heard and involve people in its discussions and development, even among its own members? I have just renewed membership for another year and will continue to look for my particular niche and contribution. I wish Ed and the party every success but I can understand people feeling (as some of the leavers have said) that they might have more impact in taking forward what they believe in outside the party.

  • Peter Martin 31st Aug '20 - 12:01pm

    @ Barry Lofty,

    “….the Liberal Democrats are just as petty, mean spirited and unfriendly as other political party’s.”

    No. To be fair to the Lib Dems you aren’t.

    Maybe you don’t have any experience of the Labour Party. You can’t get more mean spirited than sabotaging an election campaign simply because you disagree with the Party’s choice of leader.

  • David Franks 31st Aug '20 - 12:23pm

    A member for getting on for 50 years, and still very active, I voted for Layla because “more of the same” is just not what we need right now. We need to give Ed a chance to show that’s not what he wants to give us.

  • David Garlick 31st Aug '20 - 12:31pm

    Good article.
    If you ‘value’ the Liberal Democrat values then surely the Liberal Democrats are the only place for you. Keep Calm and Carry On springs to mind with only Keeping Calm being the right thing here.
    Dorothy Thornhill made it clear that carrying on as normal was not an option and I agree that Ed’s speech was for the wider public audience. Whoever was to take on the role would have faced the same situation(s) that Ed has to deal with and he needs and deserves all of us swinging behind him to deliver for us.
    Make no mistake there is not an quick and easy route to improve our position but do remember that we are on an upward curve and if we get on with it we can continue our slow and steady rise.

  • I voted for Layla but I dont see anything either Liberal or Democratic in Leaving just because “Your” Candidate lost.

    Both sides in the Leadership Contest wildly exagerated the Ideological differences between The Candidates. In practise it was mostly about personal qualities – Experience versus Charisma ?

    PS I am glad to see that Local Byelections will be resuming in Scotland soon, does anyone know whats happening in the rest of The UK ?

  • I thought Caron’s piece was remarkably balanced in the circumstances. However I simply want to pick up on her reference to the mountain which we have to climb. In May 2015 following the General Election my youngest ward colleague, as he is now, suggested that it would take us 20 years to recover. If he was right we are only halfway there and he may have been over-optimistic. I know that in many aspects of our common life we assume that the pace of life has speeded up since some of us joined Jo Grimond’s party with half a dozen white MPs (albeit not entirely heterosexual). However some elements of life have slowed down since then (notoriously how long it takes us to die!).
    For most people in this country, tutored by the media, if they think about politics at all, politics is about what happens in the House of Commons. There are many areas where they hear about Lib Dems during a General Election campaign and that’s it until the next General Election. There are other places, not least the home patch of the two Leadership candidates, where progress comes slowly, sometimes steadily over many years of sheer hard work on the ground. These are places where some voters can identify Lib Dem campaigners who are not MPs. That contrast is part of the dynamic of recent Leadership elections.
    Almost 60 years of political activism has made me wary of rapid, short term success, which has been the story of some political parties which are no longer with us.
    The Black Lives Matter movement highlights struggles which seem to take an eternity to bear fruit, however powerful the visions fuelling those struggles. Revisiting our beloved Preamble to the Constitution is always a sharp reminder of what sort of a mountain we are on as we seek both electoral advance and the creation of a very different sort of society.

  • Sue Sutherland 31st Aug '20 - 2:16pm

    I think it’s human to be upset when you lose but decisions made at that point are often not the best. I’ve stuck with the party for over 30 years because this is where I belong. I want a society that works on the basis of cooperation and community to achieve individual liberty and equality of opportunity. I want a fair society and I realise that I want a society where things other than economics are taken into account by our political leaders.
    I don’t think any other party gives me the opportunity to achieve that, mostly because all the other parties see life as a competition and want to do down one or another group in society.
    When I was able to be active in politics and situations like this arose I used to just hunker down, concentrate on my ward and on what was happening in my city. I would urge everyone who feels upset and dissatisfied at the moment to do this too, or to get involved in the party organisation and make sure we are in a good place to fight the next elections.
    Caron is right when she says people need us. It’s just that they may not realise it yet.

  • Alex Macfie 31st Aug '20 - 3:04pm

    James Fowler:

    Layla Moran’s campaign banked heavily on channeling the kind of angry idealism that was much in evidence elsewhere when Jeremy Corbyn was Labour leader.”

    Perhaps, but she can do so while being free of Corbyn’s ideological extremism and dubious political associations. Idealism and ideology are different things, and it was the idealism, rather than the ideology, that drew many young voters to Corbyn. Voters are not ideologues in general. The young peole who flocked to Corbyn in 2017 and (less strongly) in 2019 were not some new cadre of revolutionary socialists. They were ordinary people, who were inspired by the Corbyn ‘brand’. A previous Lib Dem leader, Charles Kennedy, also managed to inspire a previous generatoin of young voters full of angry idealism, without having any hard- left baggage. Layla is in a good position to do the same as a future Leader, or even now if she gets the Deputy Leader position.
    In much the same way as Harry Potter asked the Sorting Hat not to put him into Slytherin, so Layla has chosen not to associate with the reactionary illiberal left of Corbyn & co, which is what makes her different from him.

  • Alex Macfie 31st Aug '20 - 3:47pm

    I also didn’t vote for Charles Kennedy (I didn’t vote for Jackie Ballard either — I thought she had poor political judgement, and thought the same of Simon Hughes), but was impressed by his leadership of our Party. The radical activists were suspicious of him because he came from the SDP, as well as being the preference of the party establishment and what would become the Orange Book tendency. I can’t help thinking that they were Soutered, which may be why they later deposed him!

    It’s far too early to say how Ed is going to perform as leader or the direction he will take us in. But maybe Ed will be a Charles, and prove more radical than he seemed at the beginning.

  • Alex Macfie 31st Aug '20 - 5:56pm

    Denis Loretto: Layla did not talk about moving to the “left of Labour”. In particular, she holds no truck with the sort of ideological Leftists that Keir Starmer is fighting in the Labour Party. Her politics are completely different from theirs. In particular, her moderate non-sectarian position on issues like Israel~Palestine is likely to lead to the hard Left branding her a “sell-out”. This would work in our favour, because most young left-leaning voters who might be inspired by a radical liberal agenda mostly do not share the hardline secctarian anti-Israel position of the typical ideological Corbynista, And being attacked by the Hard Left on such fringe issues would benefit us because it shows the differences between us ad the Hard Left.

  • The passion expressed after the election seemed much stronger than that in support of the candidates before the election. I found this surprising and it led me to ponder on the results.

    I think that many people were uninspired by Ed as leader but they were nervous about lesser known Layla. She has energy and ideas and that made her very attractive as a candidate, especially to those on the left. I suspect that the majority decided that Layla was not quite ready and could be a risk, probably meaning that they did not know her enough yet, and decided to stick with Ed, giving him a good majority.

    But before complacency sets in, nearly half of those eligible to vote decided not to bother. Only 36% of the electorate voted for Ed. This suggests that many of those eligible to vote had little enthusiasm for either candidate or had lost enthusiasm for the party. These results show a party in steep decline.

    I suspect that all of these factors together have alarmed those who supported Layla. They had hoped for an exciting rebirth but they see the party in decline and it has just elected the “continuity” candidate.

    No pressure, then, Ed.

  • During the election campaign I spoke to voters who were considering voting Lib Dem (in a target albeit long shot seat) but were reticent, saying that in their view the left of the Lib Dems are basically Corbynites. I tried to argue otherwise but they weren’t convinced. Having Ed Davey as leader in my opinion with his clear mandate might make it easier to convince these kinds of voters next time round.

    I know Corbyn supporters and although I don’t agree with them they are not extremists and they feel his positions were misrepresented, that in Scandinavia he would be seen as moderate/soft-left social democrat, that anti-semitism is a problem in all parties not just Labour and that Corbyn has been a lifelong campaigner against racism.

    Therefore I cannot see much point trying to attract such voters to the Lib Dem’s.

  • Have only just caught up with this thread. Bank Holiday and all that. A summary would seem to be that some of Ed’s supporters are getting a bit defensive, a bit “snippy”, and then Caron outlines all the arguments why “centrist” Ed was the wrong choice. Cathartic for the author perhaps, but hardly likely to defuse the tensions.
    @ Rcihard Easter. not the first person in recent days to critisice Ed for his support for “market economics”. If you care to read the preamble to our constitution, it refers to our belief in a “competitive environment in which the state allows the market to operate freely where possible but intervenes where necessary”.

  • Paul Barker 31st Aug '20 - 9:57pm

    I have to say that I have not been very impressed with the reaction from a few, outspoken supporters of Layla.
    People Leave (& join) Parties all the time but choosing to frame your departure around “Your” Candidate not getting elected is a bit, well, OK I cant think of a kind way to phrase it.
    I voted for Layla but we had a Long Campaign in which everyone had their say, most Members voted & Ed won. I dont understand members who seem to want to have the arguments all over again, it wasnt that much fun surely ?
    Can we please get back to talking to Voters rather than each other.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 31st Aug '20 - 11:20pm

    Excellent from Alex Macfie, Layla is not farther leftwing fanatic, she’s reasonable centre left pragmatic. The fewer who had thought the former , she might be leader now!

    Those who know her merit is greater than some do, need to not go too hard on Ed, however upset. I would like to be able to support her as leader in future, and am , like Caron, very sad to see the mean and divisive in the party on social forums, though not this one!

    Too much describing of either candidate as far apart, shall keep them and the supporters keen on their merits, farther apart. Division , nastiness, noise, loses elections and belongs nowhere in politics.

  • Suzanne Fletcher 31st Aug '20 - 11:33pm

    Oh dear, oh dear.
    I am deeply upset by not just what has been said by Layla supporters but what is continuing to be said. I am also deeply upset if any Layla supporter has been abused by an Ed supporter, although I haven’t seen anything myself.
    But what upsets me the most is the way that people are suffering, and our world is threatened.
    For goodness sake, can’t we get on with enacting what we all stand for in the preamble to the constitution. Whilst petty internal squabbles go on, people throughout the world are suffering and our environment disintegrating.

  • Denis Loretto 31st Aug '20 - 11:34pm

    @John Hall
    Certainly the main immediate objective of Ed Davey and indeed all of us must be to demonstrate that the Lib Dems are relevant, especially encumbered as we are with a voting system which perpetuates a two party mindset. The conundrum is the virtual impossibility of forcing electoral reform unless and until we and other smaller parties gain the power to do so. It would be a major breakthrough if the Labour Party were to recognise that without electoral reform they are now unlikely to defeat even an enfeebled Tory Party especially with no prospect of any real recovery in Scotland.

  • Marco: I’ve never heard anyone on the doorstep saying that the left of the Lib Dems were Corbynites or anything similar (I’d be most surprised if anyone mentioned any factions in the Lib Dems at all). What I did get a lot of in both the last two elections in the tight Tory-Lib Dem marginal where I live (which we won) was that they were reluctant to vote Lib Dem because they thought it would lead to Corbyn becoming PM. But that is not the same thing at all.

    Also the Corbyn bubble deflated significantly after 2017, as many erstwhile supporters started to notice his support for Brexit and his equivocations over antisemitism, as well as his inability to win an election. Of course there is no pont in chasing the ideological Corbynites, but the vast majority who were just attracted to his ‘brand’ are quite a different matter.

  • Richard Elliott 1st Sep '20 - 12:04am

    While I liked Layla’s sparky media style and ideas, the key question for me was leadership judgement and experience – here I felt Ed had the edge and thus voted for him. I was influenced by the previous leaders disasterous leadership judgement, as it is at only a few key points in time that Lib Dem party leaders have the opportunity to shine, as most of the time (unfortunately) what they say and do is of little consequence outside the party itself. Ed I think will make the right judgements whereas Jo didnt.

    It will be difficult for Ed and the party to make an impact as the fourth party in parliament, with Starmer tracking to the centre and the absence of elections. Thus it will be a long haul and dont expect poll figures to go outside the 6-8% mark for a while. Brexit/Europe will come again and here we can be distinctive by strongly advocating rejoining the single market and customs union. We probably a couple of other distinctive positions linked maybe to green economics, decentralisation, poverty.

  • David Evershed 1st Sep '20 - 1:21am

    We seem to have too many people in the LibDems who are unable to accept the result of elections.

  • Christopher Curtis 1st Sep '20 - 8:45am

    David Evershed said: “We seem to have too many people in the LibDems who are unable to accept the result of elections.“

    Thank goodness for that! Accepting the results of pretty well all the national elections in my lifetime would imply that we simply give up, pack up and go away and let parties and people whose values and policies we hate run the country forever. None of the gains in rights, freedoms and life chances for most people would ever have happened unless people opposed the winners, often over very long periods and sometimes with disruptive determination.

    Trying to be a little less flippant, the apparently widespread view in this country that people are somehow obliged to conform to the majority view is deeply illiberal and does us direct harm. It is also deeply dangerous, as we see with out current government’s determination to paint any opposing or differing view (even on issues which were not even raised in the election) as quasi-treasonous and to exclude from any consideration anyone who is not blindly loyal.

    Stating the obvious, people are free to be disappointed or elated by election results (leadership or otherwise) and they are free to articulate why. They are free to take decisions as a result (e.g. leaving the party or staying in and continuing to fight for what they want to see or pushing a new leader to deliver on the reasons they voted for him). Elections give mandates, as Ed now has for the approach and vision he laid out and that a majority of those who voted supported. Mandates do not answer questions or meet challenges: actions and discussion and persuasion does. Winning an election is the beginning of that process, not the end of debtate.

  • Alex Macfie 1st Sep '20 - 8:59am

    Richard Elliott: Layla isn’t Jo.

  • Richard Easter 1st Sep '20 - 9:10am

    Chris Cory – I am for a mixed economy and do not think the market is the best way of organising public services and monopoly essential institutions. It is in many cases the best way for other areas of the economy, granted. Ed Davey is probably too right wing for my liking, and I have serious concerns, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do good for the party and country.

    As I said before, Davey’s best approach is to aim to be a centre right alternative to the Tories. It would be an authentic position for him to take, and it could win the party some good scalps off the current Tory cabinet. I don’t think Davey can play the “centre left” card based on his viewpoints and previous actions. But he can be successful playing the centre right economic / social liberal position, and build trust with disaffected conservative voters, and centre ground voters who lean more centre right on economic matters.

    Kicking Raab, Grayling and similar from their seats would be an absolutely fantastic aim for the party.

    A variant of UBI – negative income tax was proposed by Milton Friedman, so Davey can quite easily champion this from a centre right perspective too.

    I hope he does go down the FDP strategy, that way when coalition questions and the like come out, he will not have to dance around and will be able to justify them based on his own beliefs. If he comes across as trustworthy and honest on them – rather than evasive on it, he’ll do well.

  • Christopher Curtis 1st Sep '20 - 9:30am

    David Evershed said: “ We seem to have too many people in the LibDems who are unable to accept the result of elections.”

    Thank goodness for that! If LibDems accepted the results of elections, we’d have given up many years ago.

    Trying not to be flippant: the apparently widespread view in this country that people should conform to the majority view does severe harm, not only to the LibDems and the things we care about, but to the whole of our polity. It’s about as illiberal as you can be. Democracy defines the means by which we disagree: constructively, honestly, openly and through debate and discussion that respects and includes a wide range of views and people rather than by the exercise of force or power. We vote in order to move forward practically, not to settle issues, impose ideologies or values.

    People are free to be elated or disappointed by the outcome of our leadership contest (or to have complex and nuanced views). They are free to have their views of the future of the party, what they want to see and what they do not. They are free to act on those views (leaving, staying, lobbying for change etc.) and they are certainly free to continue to work democratically for their goals. They should always exercise that freedom with respect for those who also have freedom to hold different views and goals, but the day we all start accepting things as they are, we stop having any chance to change things for the better.

    Almost all our rights and opportunities were won by determined and persistent refusal to accept the results of elections, the making of laws and things as they always have been.

  • Alex Macfie – I am still not sure why the voters you have in mind would be unhappy with Keir Starmers leadership?

    And if the Lib Dems attracted them would that not split the left of centre vote and help the Tories back into power?

    Starmer has only alienated a few people by taking sensible positions on policing, statues, sacking Long-Bailey etc and is likely to continue to do so in order to rebuild Labour s traditional coalition. I support him doing this and would not want to throw a spanner in the works in any way.

    We need tactical votes from Labour but ruling out working with the Conservatives and being open to working constructively with Labour should help with this. For Lib Dems to win votes from the Conservatives it is not sufficient that Labour have a moderate leader -it is a necessary condition but nit enough in itself. The listening exercise will be crucial as will reflecting peoples concerns rather than focusing on niche issues.

  • Alex Macfie 1st Sep '20 - 11:59am

    @Marco: I’m not suggesting we park our tanks on Labour’s Tory-facing battlegrounds, and I’m pretty sure no-one else is either. However, this does not mean we should give Labour any slack in seats where we are their main challenger. This is a medium-term endeavour, and while I do not expect us to win back any seats we lost to Labour at the next election (except maybe Sheffield Hallam), we should be in a position to do so in subsequent elections, particularly if Labour is by that time in government — same as we started winning seats from Labour in 2001 and 2005.

  • Peter Hirst 1st Sep '20 - 2:15pm

    It’s sad that an article with a title like that does not even allude to electoral reform. We would at least double our number of MPs even on our current poll rating with a form of PR. However excellent the present ones are, we need more to achieve our aims. That said we also need to improve our offering to younger voters and restore some sort of idealism in a world that does not seem to have much at the moment.

  • I don’t think there exists a political party in the UK, other than perhaps the minnow Young People’s Party, that actually wants to “deliver the liberal country where no-one is enslaved by poverty ignorance and conformity” sufficiently to have taken the time to discover how to do it.

  • It’s not about “listening” as if there are things we all need politicians to promise (and then almost inevitably not do). It’s about grasping economic realities and coming up with a system (not new, one that has been advocated for three hundred years by any economist worth their credentials) that actually eradicated involuntary poverty, that justly and equitably distributes the social surplus of the whole country, and then being able to stand back and watch as the need for all these petty-political interventions are no longer needed.

    That’s the real challenge. Present a system that will free the country from the predations still of long dead conquerors and thieves whose malign influence on the system we have is clear for all to see: vesting power in those who own land (everyone not just the dukes and spivs of modern property development) and punishing production, making labour and capital work twice as hard merely to survive.

    #abolishtax #valueourplanet #sharetherents #makepovertyhistory

  • I am concerned about the idea that Ed has a mandate to do anything. He didn’t set out an all embracing detailed plan. He mainly talked of three policy aims, a greener, fairer and more caring society. This is not a programme of huge policy change and I don’t believe environmental policy is a main driver in how people vote. I think they are mainly concerned with about their own welfare, having a good job, having a home of their own, ensuring their children get a good start in life and go to good schools where they are successfully educated. The environment for them is a secondary factor and of course they don’t want huge environment damage which restricts the life of their children and grandchildren. Fairer is a meaningless term and means different things to different people, even the Conservatives talk of the need for things to be fair, but their idea of fair is a long way away from mine. Improving conditions for carers is a laudable aim and one I hope we can fulfil, but I don’t think it is enough to dramatically improve our support.

    I am even more concerned about the idea that the members have rejected Layla’s campaign aims. How can we know if they rejected Layla’s campaign aims rather than rejecting the person? I hope the membership has not rejected Layla’s message of rejecting many of the things our MPs supported in government against our natural policy positions and the need to build trust in our party and especially our MPs. (Not that she set out how we could change the way the party works to ensure that MPs are never allowed to bring our party to near destruction again.)

  • I’ve voted for the Lib Dems for 20 years and if under Ed Davey the party wont be properly pro Europe, its time to go elsewhere.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Sep '20 - 10:52am

    Alistair: Where will you go then? And why do you suppose the party “won’t be properly pro Europe”? What Ed seems to be saying is that realistically it isn’t going to be practical to go gung-ho for “Rejoin” in the short term. Layla would likely have said the same thing.
    And BTW the party isn’t the tool of its leader. Lib Dem policy is set by members at Conference, not dictated by the Leader.

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