Why Starmer’s arrival can benefit the Liberal Democrats

From speaking to many Lib Dem activists since the election of Keir Starmer as leader of the Labour Party, one would have assumed this was the end of the Liberal Democrats. Starmer is expected to shift Labour closer to the centre, thus closer to the Lib Dems, rendering us sitting ducks, our voters to automatically assimilate into their ranks. However, I would argue this is not the case.

Firstly, it is wrong to assume that the Labour party under Starmer will drastically swing closer to the centre of the British political spectrum. Starmer himself is named after ardent socialist Keir Hardie and has a long-standing involvement in socialist groups, namely the East Surrey Young Socialists and the youth wing of the labour party, inherently democratic-socialist organisations. Indeed, Starmer has not booted all aspects of Corbynism from his shadow cabinet. Rebecca Long-Bailey, Tony Lloyd and Nick Brown all maintained influential posts, albeit alongside figures who would not have stepped near a Corbyn cabinet, namely David Lammy, Ed Miliband and Jim McMahon.

Another advantage for the Liberal Democrats during the coronavirus outbreak is that Starmer is expected to walk a fine line between cooperation and criticism, a line likely to disenfranchise many of Labour’s core activists. Already divisions are forming within the Labour party, prominent figures and wings such as John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and (surprise surprise) Momentum already expressing concerns for the future of Corbynite policies. Perhaps the most absurd move has been by Richard Burgon, the Corbynistas’ anointed candidate for deputy leader, who is attempting rather hoping to revive the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs as a rival to the Fabian Society (which currently boasts 15 members within the shadow cabinet). This choice between aiding the Conservatives and looking to be political point scoring will bog down the labour party in the division throughout the coming months. The benefit of parliamentary irrelevancy for the Liberal Democrats is that our decision is not as crucial, therefore unlikely to be publicised to the extent of Labour’s declarations.

The other take for Starmer’s ascent is that cross-party cooperation between the Liberal Democrats and Labour is now far more likely. Starmer demonstrated during the People’s Vote campaign and his leadership bid that he is willing to water down ideas to materialise change and power, something Corbyn refused to do. Such cooperation would undoubtedly benefit both parties. Indeed, the Labour party under Keir Hardie was first propelled to considerable influence because of the Lib-Lab pact of 1903, leaping from 2 to 27 seats. It is important to note that this pact was also crucial to the Liberal Party’s electoral success under Henry Campbell-Bannerman. Perhaps Starmer should take inspiration from his namesake’s courage to work with the Liberals, for it would render the Conservatives’ position precarious at best going into the next General Election.

In conclusion, whether looking solely or collectively at Labour infighting, Keir Starmer and electoral cooperation, the election of Starmer is more likely to benefit the Liberal Democrats in the long run than quickly sap the life out of the party.

* Peter Cocks is a LD member and activist in Guildford, and will soon be studying History and Political Science at McGill University, Montreal

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48 Comments

  • Dennis Wake 22nd Apr '20 - 7:30pm

    According to the latest YouGov poll support for the Liberal Democrats has fallen to 5% and for the Greens to 3% while support for Labour has risen by 4%

  • Alex Macfie 22nd Apr '20 - 8:30pm

    Opinion polls are pretty meaningless at the moment, as they mainly reflect the Tories benefitting from a (certainly temporary) ‘crisis bounce’ putting them fairly consistently over 50%, not to mention that there aren’t going to be any elections at all for the rest of this year.

  • Indeed, the Labour party under Keir Hardie was first propelled to considerable influence because of the Lib-Lab pact of 1903, leaping from 2 to 27 seats.

    That went well, didn’t it.

    We were midwife to a dreadful chimera stitched together from Socialists, Marxists and Social Democrats, that has squatted uselessly in the House of Commons ever since.

    All the Labour Party achieves by its existence is a blocking minority under FPTP, that has enabled Conservative hegemony for a century.

  • Malcolm Todd 22nd Apr '20 - 9:00pm

    Hard to take seriously an opinion piece that makes anything of the fact that “Starmer himself is named after ardent socialist Keir Hardie”. I mean, I was named after a King of Scotland – it doesn’t make me a royalist or a nationalist; it’s not even what makes me Scottish. If he had named himself after Keir Hardie, I suppose it might tell us something…

  • Mark Blackburn 22nd Apr '20 - 9:07pm

    Funny how opinion polls are meaningless when we’re on 5% but inform party strategy when we’re on 22%. Whatever, my main point is that the way our two-party system works, in that people tend to vote against one of the big two parties as much as they vote for one of them, Starmer leadership will benefit us in a way not emphasised in the article, certainly here in the West Country. The Corbyn fear factor drove many soft Cons back to the Tories here in ’17 and ’19 – that won’t happen with Starmer.

  • The last elections when there was a centrist Labour party were 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010. In those elections we won 47, 52, 62 and 57 MPs. We also had lots of councillors in that era and made a slew of by election gains (Romsey, Brent, Leicester, Dunfermline) as well as holding Cheadle.
    It’s true that every time Labour swings to the centre lots of commentators and some of our own members think it’s the end of the LibDems. But the facts clearly show that actually we can prosper electorally in those circumstances.
    How? Well here’s my thought: It’s not about what they do, it’s about what we do. Stop obsessing about Labour and concentrate on building a strong, vibrant Liberal identity, a first-rate organisation and a strategy to win. That will serve us well whoever the other party leaders are.

  • Yousuf Farah 23rd Apr '20 - 1:30am

    So because so and so happened in 1997 and some other years in the past, which were many years ago, a different political climate, different politics and generally a different time, if we manage to have the same conditions as before, than near about the same things will happen again and we will have 60-70 odd MPs in the next parliament…….

    So this is how reality works for us now? Stuff like this makes me wonder if I’m living in the same world as other Liberals. It’s pretty much superstition, relying on belief and false hope.

    Please, let’s give people encouragement in us, by having more encouragement about ourselves, out ideas and Liberalism.

  • Yousuf Farah – “So because so and so happened in 1997 and some other years in the past, which were many years ago, a different political climate, different politics and generally a different time, if we manage to have the same conditions as before, than near about the same things will happen again and we will have 60-70 odd MPs in the next parliament…….” – We could have reached 70+ in 2015 had Clegg played his cards right and not joining the Coalition and thus getting associated with Tory policies. 2005-2010 was the first time since the 1920s-1930s that we ever had some sort of a political base (public servants, youth/students…), but Clegg and Co drove them away during the Coalition years. The correct approach was to stay in opposition and spend time further building up political support (without ministerial jobs he would have had plenty of time to do so) and let the Tories’ austerity program blowing up on their face.

  • Peter Martin 23rd Apr '20 - 5:33am

    @ Martin,

    “We laughed at the Tories attempts to cast Blair as a bogeyman.”

    And therefore helped him to win. But you didn’t laugh at similar attempts to cast Jeremy Corbyn in the same light. So by your own argument, it is at least partially down to Lib Dems that we’re now stuck with Boris Johnson for the next few years. With all the things that you don’t like. The top of that list would have to be a hard Brexit!

    Thanks a lot!

  • Thomas
    “Stay in opposition”
    The political crisis would have contributed to a financial and economic crisis. Yes there are many lessons to learn from the coalition, the main one is to obtain PR as part of the deal.

  • Peter
    Contact the Liberal Democrats Overseas when you are in Canada and good luck with your studies.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Apr '20 - 6:19am

    Peter Martin: You’ve got it the wrong way round. We laughed at Tory attacks on Tony Blair because they were so inaccurate and weren’t working. Attacks on JC did work, probably because most voters had made up their minds about him already as a dangerous hard leftist. Lib Dem response to Tory attacks on the Labour leader did not affect whether they worked, we don’t have that much influence in the political debate that people take their cues from us (if we did we would have cleaned up electorally).

    Thomas: Staying in opposition after 2010 would have been a risky strategy, as the Tories would have called an election a few months later, one in which we would have been cast as the ones who stood in the way of stable government and the Tories would have won outright. The mistake wasn’t going into coalition, it was how the coalition was conducted. It should have been conducted as a business arrangement, not as a love-in.

  • Andrew Tampion 23rd Apr '20 - 7:17am

    I doubt that a more centrist Labour leader poses an existential threat to the existence of the Liberal Democrats, I can remember jokes about the parliamentary party being able to hold meetings in phone boxes. The evidence of the last 70 years is that there are enough liberally inclined voters to return some Liberal Democrat MPs to Westminster. Our nadir was 1957 with 5 MPs. Of course we have to have a through examination of what has gone wrong (and right) in the last 15 years and getting rid of failed ideas, policies and strategies: whilst holding true to our core believes as set out in our constitution. This will have to include replacing those who have failed to perform their jobs to a satisfactory standard. We should be as ruthless with our leaders as the Tories normally are.

  • Andrew Tampion 23rd Apr '20 - 7:29am

    continued.
    What worries me morethan the threat of Keir Starmer or Labour is the Brexit debacle. Lord Ashcroft suggests that some 30% of Liberal Democrat voters voted Leave in 2016. Following the Referendum we became an increasingly extreme pro EU party. it is true that this may have gained pro EU voters from other parties but we must have lost pro Leave voters as well. If as seems lkely the pro EU voters revert to their former allegiance then the critical factor is our ability to attract former Liberal Democrat voters who deserted us because of our Brexit stance. For me one of the biggest failings of our Party’s anti Brexit campaign was the failure to recognise that the country was and remains deeply divided over the merits of the EU. If a second referendum had resulted in a narrow pro Remain vote then the fact that nearly half the country would have meant that either the UK government would have had to insist on wholesale EU reform or risked further dividing the country.

  • Andrew Tampion 23rd Apr '20 - 7:33am

    “Hard to take seriously an opinion piece that makes anything of the fact that “Starmer himself is named after ardent socialist Keir Hardie”.”
    In fairness if Starmer’s parents named him after Keir Hardie then it’s likely that they also taught him about Hardie and his principles. Whether Starmer choose to adopt those principles or admires Hardie is another matter.

  • The other elephant in the room is Boris and where he takes the Tories, his near death experience may have rebooted his mind and put him firmly in the centre-left of politics rather than centre-right – that would make the other parties rather pointless!

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Apr ’20 – 6:19am……………..Peter Martin: You’ve got it the wrong way round. We laughed at Tory attacks on Tony Blair because they were so inaccurate and weren’t working. Attacks on JC did work, probably because most voters had made up their minds about him already as a dangerous hard leftist. Lib Dem response to Tory attacks on the Labour leader did not affect whether they worked, we don’t have that much influence in the political debate that people take their cues from us (if we did we would have cleaned up electorally)………………..Thomas: Staying in opposition after 2010 would have been a risky strategy, as the Tories would have called an election a few months later, one in which we would have been cast as the ones who stood in the way of stable government and the Tories would have won outright. The mistake wasn’t going into coalition, it was how the coalition was conducted. It should have been conducted as a business arrangement, not as a love-in………………….

    I disagree with every sentence; except the the last one…

    Corbyn was seens as a threat to the status quo of state and business capitalism..The bogeyman image was used about his so called support for IRA violence…However, in 2017 he started from nowhere and by avoiding personal attacks and sticking to policies he came within a whisker of winning (in fact had it not been for the personal attacks from within Labour he might well have won)..
    That ‘near miss’ scared the establishment and, having exhausted the IRA smears, they manufactured the anti-semitic episode; Corbyn is anti-Zionist/Israel and pro-Palestinian but anti-semitic he isn’t..

    As for Cameron calling for another quick election; that’s a fantasy. He’d failed to win a majority against the least popular government/leader in history; why would he risk all on another go against a Labour party with a new leader? Cameron’s initial policies were unpopular so he’d nothing to gain; as it was, he had the ‘blessing’ of the LibDem leader within days of a coalition. Even before that this party’s ‘Orange tinge’ would’ve convinced him that, even in opposition, this party wouldn’t ‘rock his boat’ too much..

  • Nick Brown, while Corbyn’s Chief Whip as well as Starmer’s, also held various ministerial posts under Blair and Gordon Brown, and was Gordon Brown’s Chief Whip as well, as well as briefly being Shadow Leader of the House under Margaret Beckett’s acting leadership. He seems to just be one of the few Labour MPs respected by all factions of the party, which is probably why he keeps getting to be (Shadow) Chief Whip.

    Unlike 1997, however, the issue seems to be that the divisions in politics have shifted to be over hard-set social issues – immigration, inequality, internationalism, the environment – generating a major age split in voting intention that was never really there before 2017. Polls at the moment are probably a poor prediction of the result of the 2024 election, but the details within them are likely to be very important for thinking about where and who the Lib Dems could encourage votes from later, and what that implies for policy and the presentation of that policy.

  • John Marriott 23rd Apr '20 - 8:56am

    Yet another bout of navel gazing and ‘whatifery’. I really don’t care who was laughing at whom. As the late Bob Monkhouse once said; “They laughed at me when I said I was going to be a comedian. They’re not laughing now!”

    Of course the Lib Dems will survive in one form or another. There’s still a ‘Liberal Party’, isn’t there? There’s even still an SDP apparently somewhere. As to their size, well, as I keep saying, liberalism is a minority doctrine, valid and worthwhile and as necessary as the burr in the saddle and necessary too to keep democracy’s feet to the fire. I shall still support it in whatever form it takes because I am proud to be one of the awkward squad; but I would get really worried if I ever found myself in the majority. As my old dad used to say; “It takes all sorts to make a world”. I’m proud to be different. So come on, folks, get used to it!

  • Peter Martin 23rd Apr '20 - 8:57am

    @ Alex Macfie,

    Despite all the negativity from Lib Dems and the Labour right, Jeremy Corbyn received only 3% less than Tony Blair in their first elections as Labour leader. The leaked Labour report details how those who were well paid in the Labour Party to help the campaign were actively sabotaging it. We just needed that extra few percent!

    I don’t suppose it’s reasonable to blame Lib Dems for this. After all, we’ve long said that the Tories were more your second choice than the Labour Party. We can’t have it both ways! But all the same we did think that the Brexit issue might have been more a factor in your thinking in the last couple ofelctions. Apparently not. Now we know you’d rather have a Tory government plus a hard Brexit than a leftish Labour one.

  • @ John Marriott ” I am proud to be one of the awkward squad”…

    As was frequently said in Little Britain, “Yes but, yes but, yes but”…….. when they got the chance……. they weren’t awkward enough. They just rolled over and wanted their tummy tickled.

  • Our lowest polling figure since 1989, it will get worse unless we get back in the game fast. Get a Leader.

  • @expats “Corbyn is anti-Zionist/Israel and pro-Palestinian but anti-semitic he isn’t..”

    My Jewish friends of all political persuasions disagree with you. And I think they’re probably better qualified to judge.

    “As for Cameron calling for another quick election; that’s a fantasy. He’d failed to win a majority against the least popular government/leader in history; why would he risk all on another go against a Labour party with a new leader?”

    Wrong. With all the press behind him, he’d have said “Labour made the mess, the Lib Dems won’t help us clear it up – the country needs stable government. Give us a majority to finish the job or risk chaos.”

  • John Russell 23rd Apr '20 - 9:27am

    The reason we did so badly in the General Election – leaving aside our own appalling national campaign – was the Corbyn fear factor. Many Remain Conservatives who might otherwise have voted for us feared Corbyn more than Brexit. That won’t happen with Starmer. Remember we did well when Blair was opposition leader for the same reason. .

  • I never understand why helping Tony “weapons of mass destruction “Blair is seen as a good thing. I’d keep quite about it. He was an awful PM who ushered in a phony presidential style, went to war on a false pretext and ended up very very unpopular.

  • Toby Keynes 23rd Apr '20 - 9:55am

    @Peter Martin: “The leaked Labour report details how those who were well paid in the Labour Party to help the campaign were actively sabotaging it. We just needed that extra few percent!”

    Just because the leaked Labour report claims something, doesn’t mean it’s true – bearing in mind that it was commissioned under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership by a Corbyn-appointed executive, was not submitted to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission on the advice of its own legal team, and was then leaked.

    That leak is the last thing Keir Starmer needs right now, but the way in which he handles this will make a huge difference to his credibility, as well as the credibility and reputations of those who are accused by the report, those who commissioned and wrote it – and whoever leaked it, if they are ever identified.

    So far, I don’t think he’s put a foot wrong, even while members of the Corbyn camp, including John McDonald, have called for an immediate purge of their opponents.

    Getting back to the theme of Peter Cock’s piece, I agree that if Starmer de-demonises Labour and turns it into a credible political force that we could work with, that’s good for the Liberal Democrats (as well as the country, which may also be a consideration).

    As Tony H showed (9.44pm, 22nd April), we’ve won far more MPs during periods of centrist Labour parties than in any other periods – although I suspect that what really matters is not whether Labour is centrist but whether it’s credible.

  • Richard Easter 23rd Apr '20 - 10:11am

    I think the party needs to decide whether it is essentially social democratic in nature, and work with Keir Starmer in an alliance to oust the Tories (with PR as a requirement), or alternatively decide whether it is free market liberal in nature and work with the Tories to oppose left wing economics (with a second referendum or whatever red lines that would require) – and act as part of the Australian “centre right coalition” whilst moving the country towards Europe again.

    The party needs to make its mind up where it sits on economic issues and then be honest with voters. Does it consider nationalisation and greater trade union participation as acceptable or unacceptable? Does it consider outsourcing and offshoring jobs as unpatriotic or a necessary part of the global economy? Does it consider that controlling inflation is more important than controlling unemployment? Does it consider global corporations preferable to nation states or nation state sovereignty greater than the free market?

    Until then there is no point worrying about Starmer or Johnson or whatnot. The public need to know whether they will get a party of Nordic style social democracy or a party of Pro European socially liberal free marketers.

    Some Lib Dems will consider Starmer to be a great ally, others will consider him to be part of the extreme left but with better presentation, better brains and better organisational skills.

  • John Littler 23rd Apr '20 - 10:44am

    “..the party needs to decide whether it is essentially social democratic in nature & work with Keir Starmer in an alliance to oust the Tories (with PR as a requirement), or alternatively decide whether it is free market liberal in nature…

    I should have thought that recent history answered that. The coalition might have had achievements, but in 5 years and since, nobody has been able to come up with a list of them? I posted my own to almost zero interest

    There is no political space left on the centre right. That was taken by Heseltine, Clarke and latterly by Greg Clarke & feined by Johnson, Hancock and others in there Tories

    The right wing press did the LibDems no favours for parking on their lawn. They saw the LibDems as unwanted competitors who muddy the right wing waters or who lean too far left & it will not change under this rotten popular press. They targeted the LibDems mercilessly every single day by scores of writers, editorials, twisted news stories, attacking prominent individuals, giving no press coverage to policy. I recall seeing the Mail around someone’s house & it had 13 pages devoted to attacking LibDems

    By going with the Tories, the previously sympathetic and supportive Guardian and to some extent even the online Independent, attacked and vilified the LibDems, twisted their policies or ignored them, ignored achievements and stated that there were none, when they should have known better. They and the New Statesman will only come back onside to Social Liberals, while the FT were supportive under a more leftist Kennedy and Ashdown

    Look at option polls since. They were in the 20’s until Clegg went in with the Tories, after which they plummeted rapidly and progressively down to about 8% and never recovered sustainably. Now without a leader and in a crisis that brings support to most leaders around the world, YouGov ( one of the polls with the best record) shows the LibDems on 5%, or 3% lower than the previous core minimum considered.

    Look elsewhere. The right wing German Liberals the FDP were recently out of their Parliament below the 5% threshold and are not prospering now, while the more left wing D66 are in government in the Netherlands.

    Political preferences and choices for a party are one thing, but survival is another and the only future for the LibDems is as radical centre left owning the future but communitarian and pro local community.

  • @Richard Easter whilst I agree with you on the party needing to come down firmly on the side of what it believes (and I know where i am), I think we need to unpick this a bit:

    “The public need to know whether they will get a party of Nordic style social democracy or a party of Pro European socially liberal free marketers.”

    It’s a false dichotomy.

    The Nordic countries are socially-Liberal free marketeers. They understand very well that it’s not a choice of either/or, but that you need a vibrant and competitive private sector to generate the revenue to pay for social programmes.

    Anyone who has had any dealings with Swedish companies will know perfectly well that they’re as red in tooth and claw as any US corporation.

  • Well, I and all of the lost liberals I know would vote for a Starmer led Lab at the moment. That’s a snapshot of about 6.

    More helpfully, the LDs suffer from:
    – losing ‘third party’ status (it matters more than oriole thought it seems):
    – not having a leader (Starmer’s appearance shows what valid nonsense was ‘we won’t elect one until next year in the national interest)
    – not having a usp – really, what is the point today? It’s fine lamenting the birth of Labour but we have had 100 years to get over that!
    – Boris isn’t seen as extreme by the public and neither is Keir Starmer. The right wing press will really struggle to paint Sir Keir (former DPP) as an existential threat to the nation, so where exactly will the LD leader fit?

    Not saying the above to score points, just to point out the obvious for remedy. Also don’t expect this period of everyone apparently being on the centre ground to last. It’s what’s left that matters.

    Ps: I would concur that we do best when the Labour leader isn’t too threatening and we tack centre left.

  • John Littler 23rd Apr '20 - 12:17pm

    After a period of the coalition where the LibDems were seen as failed moderate Tories who can’t win many elections, this was followed by years where they campaign on a single issue that loses the West Country & whatever was left in the midlands and north.

    Now, with the Tories handing out free (borrowed) money in hundreds of billions faster than Corbyn might have, where do the LibDems go now? It is not by offering people more free markets and exploiting the largely imaginary opportunities of brexit ? Yet we need positive messages and not just moaning about the EU?

    I suggest an Industrial policy to reflect the fast post industrial Information age changes coming, massive investment in the Green Economy and converting overseas aid into largely a fund to promote the Greening of developing countries, Universal Citizens Income. Also to make companies follow more than a single bottom line, instead having bottom lines on Environmental indices, Worker shareholding, profit sharing and community aspects.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Apr '20 - 1:06pm

    So many threads on LDV these days give the impression that the Liberal Democrats are stagnating, desperately speculating about a possible raison d’être, a purpose, a direction, a unique selling point, …

    Outside LDV, does the electorate even know what the Lib Dems are for nowadays?

    We’re four months on from the last General Election and the party doesn’t have a leader with none expected for another year and a paucity of obvious candidates. The failure to stop Brexit has robbed the party of the single unifying policy that has defined it for four years.

    The situation for Lib Dems looks **!!?*! awful.

    Is there any real prospect of the party changing that or is it just waiting and hoping that something will come along?

  • TCO – please, please, TCO, the pollings of the FDP alone have already shown enough of how well you ideas of a liberal party will be. Generic right-wing press like Daily Mail and Telegraph always hated the Liberals, meanwhile the Guardian actually endorsed us in 2010.

    John Litter – I broadly agree with your points. Also, as you talk about the FDP, I have to add the fact that the Grunes (its Realo wing is the German equivalent of us before 2010) have been rapidly cannibalizing the SPD since the last summer. And never forget Trudeau’s success in 2015 by running from the left.

    By the way, the Libdems achieved zero transformational positive achievements during the Coalition years, and enabled lots of bad things.

  • suzanne fletcher 23rd Apr '20 - 1:32pm

    just a fact. In 2019 GE I did a LOT of phoning for Tim Farron. half the people who would have been expected to vote for him and weren’t, were voting tory “to keep Corbyn out”.
    it is only because Tim was a very good local MP he survived. ( the other half we “lets get B done with”, not the subject of this debate).
    Moral – be a good MP !
    Also if you are seen to get on with another party, they are not a bogey man.

  • Rodney Watts 23rd Apr '20 - 9:41pm

    @ Peter Cocks Always good to see a younger person expressing opinions and you are wise to say we should not assume Keir Starmer will drastically swing towards Lib Dem part of spectrum. I suspect you read the Guardian account regarding Richard Burgon, but I would question your use of the word ‘absurd’. I gather a number of Labour socialist groups are combining efforts, particularly in light of the leaked report.

    This piece centres again on possible consequences for Lib Dems with Starmer’s election as leader of the LP, and thus is similar to previous articles, e.g. https://www.libdemvoice.org/should-leftleaning-liberal-democrats-back-the-policies-of-keir-starmers-labour-party-64082.html Comments on both threads indicate that, as expressed by @Johnmc, the LDP needs a unique selling point (usp). Katharine Pinder, who wrote the previous piece and also coauthored an even earlier piece with Michael Berwick-Gooding has championed the idea of a ‘ Social Contract’, Sue Sutherland Has also contributed to this adding environmental, community, etc concerns. In short the LDP needs to now concentrate on its own policies and how to bring to public attention.

    @expats 23rd Apr. 8.12am Hardly a word I could disagree with!
    @TCO: ‘@expats “Corbyn is anti-Zionist/Israel and pro-Palestinian but anti-semitic he isn’t..”
    My Jewish friends of all political persuasions disagree with you. And I think they’re probably better qualified to judge.’ Sorry TCO, I know at least three of us LD Jewish members who agree with expats and I understand JC is more against the actions of the Israeli Government rather than Israel. Otherwise it’s a bit odd that he attended the same Zoom enabled Pesach(Passover) Liberation Seder as I and over 200 others of various, but mainly Labour leaning Jews did.
    @ John Hall Time will certainly tell, John.

    @ Richard Easter and @ John Littler Good points!
    @Frank West: “The other elephant in the room is Boris and where he takes the Tories, his near death experience may have rebooted his mind and put him ….” This could be well be true and is a similar thought to one I expressed to my wife.

  • Alex Macfie 24th Apr '20 - 8:17am

    A large majority of the electorate, rightly or wrongly, don’t give a Castlemaine about the issue, and are turned off by the obsession. Keir Starmer does not seem to have any agenda over this issue, he can probably be trusted to look at the whole anti-Semitism affair dispassionately. BTW no-one suggests that “Christian Zionists is “anti-semitic””. What IS anti-semitic is holding individuals responsible for the actions of the Israeli government because of their heritage. One can criticise aspects or strands of Zionism, or the Israeli government, without being anti-semitic. The trouble is that there are too many people who cross the line, and many who use it as an excuse. Keir Starmer is also a lawyer, and probably knows that it’s not a good idea to set too much store by a leaked report that is likely to be the subject of a lot of legal action over the coming years.

  • Alex Macfie 24th Apr '20 - 8:28am

    Frank West: Don’t call hm “Boris”. If he’s been “rebooted” then there’s been a ring of doom on the screen for some days now. And even if the government does follow leftish policies during this crisis, it doesn’t follow that it’ll win left-wing support. The policies of Churchill’s Wartime coalition could be argued to be left-wing. Yet in the 1945 election, the electorate voted him out and voted Labour in. It appears that they preferred the real thing rather than some ersatz socialism.
    Glenn: Tony Blair in the early years was different from Blair the warmonger.
    Peter Martin: We were equidistant in the last election, deciding (sensibly) that we could support neither a left-fascist nor a right-fascist as PM. What differentiated us from the two big parties was being not fascist at all, and therefore any kind of fascism was unacceptable to us, and under no circumstances were we going to be forced to choose between them.

  • @Rodney Watts – if you’ve not, I suggest you read up on anti-Semtism in Stalinist Russia. The British Hard Left is still influenced by these historical echoes, and the euphemisitic charges of “Zionism” as a mask for anti-Jewish sentiment has a long history.

    But mostly I agree with @Alex McFie.

  • Alex Macfie 24th Apr '20 - 9:59am

    theakes:

    “Get a Leader”

    As far as the media concerned are concerned, Ed Davey is our leader. That he’s “acting co-Leader” isn’t really relevant; Mark Pack isn’t a Parliamentarian and most journos don’t know who he is.
    Labour’s poll ratings have not improved significantly since the election of Keir Starmer as leader. This is probably because all the focus is on the Coronavirus crisis and the government’s response to it, and it means that the Lib Dems are unlikely to gain any additional exposure from holding a leadership election now. Also the Labour leadership election started before the crisis, and was nearly over by the time the lockdown started, so the common-sense thing to do was to let it run its course.

  • expats: The reason Jeremy Corbyn has reputation as a terrorist sympathiser is his history of giving uncritical hospitality to IRA and Hamas spokespeople. It’s not “smear”. The most generous interpretation of his actions is that he does not understand how back-channel negotiations work.

  • Peter Martin 24th Apr '20 - 8:57pm

    @ Alex Macfie,

    “What differentiated us from the two big parties was being not fascist at all, and therefore any kind of fascism was unacceptable to us……”

    They weren’t unacceptable to close to 80% of the voters in the last two elections. That’s why they are called big parties. The Labour Party has over half a million members.

  • Alex Macfie 25th Apr '20 - 9:19am

    Peter Martin: Most of those 80% were voting negatively, i.e. to keep out the big party they disliked more. Like Suzanne Fletcher above, I got a lot of people saying on the doorstep that they were voting Tory “to keep Corbyn out”. This despite being in a Tory~LibDem marginal where Labour stood no chance. Sadly this is what often happens when the two main parties veer to the extremes, and is why (perhaps counter-intuitively) we are likely to perform better now that Labour has a moderate, electable leader.

  • Peter Watson 25th Apr '20 - 11:38am

    @Alex Macfie “Most of those 80% were voting negatively”
    How do you know it was “most”?

  • Richard Easter 26th Apr '20 - 9:15am

    Whether or not Corbyn is a terrorist sympathiser – and I wouldn’t know either way, the support of a large spectrum of politcians for Saudi Arabia – a truly backward regime which has exported terrorism worldwide, and brutalises its citizens and critics, means that I have little interest in people having a go at Corbyn, whilst making mealy mouthed excuses for the sickening cult of Bin Salman.

    There may be many things wrong with certain parts of the left, but I’m afraid a lot of “moderate” politicians seem to either turn a blind eye to the Saudis, or openly support them and cheer them on. This is utterly repellent – and in my view makes them just as much of an extremist as anyone who supports Hamas.

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