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Farron’s Speech Prove The LibDems Haven’t Changed

By Sara Scarlett
September 24th, 2015 at 8:00 pm | Comments Off on Farron’s Speech Prove The LibDems Haven’t Changed | Posted in Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron

Everyone seems to have liked Tim Farron’s speech. Sorry to be contrarian but I did not…

I fear Isabel Hardman has made some legitimate points in this op-ed. Here are the quotes she picked from his speech:

“A Labourite is someone who feels profoundly misanthropic and dismisses all apparent acts of altruism as ultimately selfish. They believe some people aren’t worth very much and that it’s best to have a jolly good scrap at every opportunity.”

“If you love blaming people and shattering relationships. If you say Britain is best when Britain is splitting up. Then guess what. You’re a Tory!”

‘A liberal is someone who looks for the best in people, not the worst. We believe everyone is of equal value and that people always achieve more together than they do when they are at each other’s throats.’

‘If you reject the politics of blame and separation. If you say Britain is best when Britain is together.

‘If you say Britain is best when it is outward looking, modern and inclusive. Then guess what. You’re a liberal. Embrace that diagnosis. It is an utterly decent and British condition.’

Basically – everything *good* is Liberal and everything *bad* is Labour and/or Tory.

Unfortunately, what undermines the whole underlying assumption of this speech are that there are things Liberalism is and things that Liberalism simply is not.

But worse than that is the fact that Tim Farron (or his speechwriters) do not understand why people vote for parties other than the LibDems. Nobody goes into the into the voting booth and says: “Well, I’m a heartless cunt who loves shattering relationships so I’ll vote Tory!” It’s incredibly patronising to voters. Almost as patronising as: “You’ve been brainwashed by Rupert Murdoch, you feckless sheep.”

It’s the type of thinking that leads us to this shit…


Didn’t even work amongst people who got this pop culture reference…

Nobody votes for a party despite the fact that they think they are brainless and/or heartless. If you want to run a successful campaign I strongly recommend not insulting the people you’re trying to win over and consider that they have positive reasons for doing what they do.

Since May the LibDem ‘resurection’ has had a very strange tone. #LibDemFightback? Against whom? It seems to be a fightback against the electorate.

The LibDems should be humbling themselves before the people and taking some time to think about why the electorate don’t trust the LibDems or simply think them irrelevant.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 20.10.08

92% irrelevant…

But instead they have taken little responsibility for their election devastation and are still working on assumptions that have been wholly invalidated.

It may also be worth considering why so many people who consider themselves Liberal, don’t automatically think their natural home is in the LibDems. Being for everything good and against everything bad makes you a lot of things but ‘distinct’ isn’t one of them.


The Illiberal Left

By Sara Scarlett
September 18th, 2015 at 7:30 am | Comments Off on The Illiberal Left | Posted in Labour, Liberal Democrats, Libertarians

The election of Jeremy Corbyn has obviously increased the chatter about the positioning of parties on the left/right spectrum. Tim Farron has flaunted the somewhat incredulous claim that Labour MPs will defect to the LibDems…


Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 23.17.03

I am amused by the suggestion that the Blairites would find a happy home in the LibDems. It would probably be like being a Libertarian in the Tories… Tony Blair’s New Labour was not liberal in any sense of the word. Nanny statist, warmongering and prone to top-down diktats; civil libertarians despaired.

The zeitgeist has changed and a too many political activists and commentators, overwhelmingly on the Left, have not caught on. In the 1980s the dichotomy was clear. Thatcher represented the authoritarian right and all who opposed her amounted to a broad and diverse liberal left.

The authoritarian right versus the libertarian left set play no longer applies. Blair’s administration turned the left into authoritarians, different from the right-wing authoritarians, but authoritarians nonetheless. This new left felt/feels justified in increasing the erosions of our civil liberties and deeper policing of thought, speach and lifetstyle. This is not only enforced by little Hitlers in town councils but in offices, schools and more private places (like cars and homes) not to mention on social media!

In the 80s the Right’s authoritarianism was anti-gay and racist but now if you are perceived to be anti-gay and/or racist, the full wrath of the authoritarian left will chew you up and spit you out.

This is most noticeably seen on issues such as smoking tobacco versus smoking cannabis. Almost every LibDem I’ve met, with a few exceptions, would legalise smoking cannabis tomorrow. Almost every LibDem I’ve met, with a few exceptions, would ban cigarettes off the face of the earth today. I struggle to understand this fundamentally contradictory set of beliefs despite the fact that they are held simultaneously by so many.

The only way I can assume that this is justified in their minds is because cigarettes are manufactured by companies and cannabis is not. (Surely they must realise that once cannabis is legalised, ‘Big Cannabis’ would become a thing instantly?) The anti-capitalism/evil tobacco companies rhetoric comes before the small matter of personal liberty/lifestyle choices. The left-wingness comes before the liberalism.

I believe this is why Jeremy Corbyn et al. are comfortable talking talking to the undesireables he talks to. The capitalist ‘West’ is the big bad guy and anyone who opposes them are underdogs. I believe in the back of Corbyn’s mind he knows that those folks throw homosexuals off buildings and beat their wives but I strongly suspect that it just matters to Corbyn so much less than the anti-Western capitalist imperialist thing.

This is one of the reasons I’ve never been a fan of the ‘enemy of your enemy is your friend’ schtick.

Liberals are scattered and disjointed and remain dhimmis in all parties despite attempts to define left-wing populism as ‘Liberalism.‘ Attemts to portray Cameron as an arch-Thatcherite also make little sense as he is a moderate above all else. Cameron has been made more authoritarian by power but that’s typical. He’s not a liberal but he’s never called himself one either. It’s not just the gone-to-seed activists that populate the increasingly tragic comment threads on LDV who are willfully unaware of this; activists my age define themselves by a dominant school of thought that hasn’t been true in Britain since the 80s.

The left simply don’t realise that they are not the liberals anymore. Or, worse, they don’t care.


More #Libdemmery nonsense

By Editor
July 3rd, 2015 at 9:38 am | Comments Off on More #Libdemmery nonsense | Posted in Liberal Democrats

Here is the Lib Dem leadership ballot paper -with very clear and totally absurd voting rules clearly printed on it.

In a two horse race, the key advice is that you can’t vote with an “X”. Oh no.
This election is taking place under the Alternative Vote system. You must decide the order in which you love and adore Tim & Norman. By all means write the numeral “1” next to the one you love most and the digit “2” next to the guy you love nearly as much.
We were beginning to think the Libs Dems hadn’t really come to terms with their crushing defeat on May 7th. Turns out it’s worse than that. They haven’t even come to terms with the defeat of the YES2AV campaign from years ago…


Is it worth putting a tenner on @NormanLamb to win?

By Angela Harbutt
July 2nd, 2015 at 1:55 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in Leadership, Liberal Democrats

With the Lib Dem leadership contest into the last couple of weeks, and with ballot papers now sitting with the Lib Dem voters, how are the two candidates shaping up?

Rather than look at the candidates websites, their promises and “liberal vision” (yes they both have one), now seems a good time to see who is endorsing them. Having big grand ideas is all well and good – but what also counts in a leadership race is the respect that colleagues have for prospective leaders. Those working alongside Norman and Tim will have a much better working knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses than the average voter can ever hope to determine by a search of their websites or tv clips of the odd hustings.

Besides, (being totally honest) I am just darned curious to see how it is stacking up.

Getting the comprehensive list was not easy. Norman’s and Tim’s websites do a pretty good job of listing their supporters – but both list their supporters in a bit of a randomised way. And Wiki, whilst pretty good, seems to have a few missed off the list.

Having completed the task as best I could, I thought I would share, in case (a) anyone else is interested and (b) anyone can correct any of the entries.

FORMER MPs declaring for either Norman or Tim.  

Former MPs = recent MPs (those who stood in 2015)

Norman Lamb Tim Farron
Ming Campbell Simon Hughes
Ed Davey Alan Beith
Stephen Williams Duncan Hames
Don Foster John Leech
Norman Baker Greg Mulholland
Tom Brake John Pugh
Paul Burstow Sarah Teather
Bob Russell Mark Williams
David Laws Jo Swinson
Simon Wright
Stephen Gilbert
David Heath
John Hemming
Michael Moore
Nick Harvey
Julian Huppert
Tessa Munt
Mark Hunter
Jenny Willott
Mike Thornton
Lynne Featherstone


Interesting to note that Norman’s list is substantially longer, though Tim has three of the six current MPs. Norman has one. Nick Clegg and Alistair Carmichael appear not to have declared for either.

There is also a long list of notable ex-MPs (including Danny Alexander, Vince Cable,and Jeremy Browne) who appear to have not indicated a preference either way.

Sandra Gidley and Julia Goldsworthy (MPs from further back) have also declared for Norman.


Norman Lamb Tim Farron
Paddy Ashdown David Steel
Shirley Williams Meral Hussein-Ece
Tim Razzell Diana Maddock
Kate Parminter Brian Paddick
Judith Jolly Ros Scott
Joan Walmsley Floella Benjamin
Liz Barker Alexander Charles Carlile
Lindsay Northover Brian Cotter
Dee Doocey Kenneth Macdonald
Alison Suttie Monroe Palmer
Paul Sciven James Palumbo
Sue Garden Paul Strasburger
Jane Bonham Carter Matthew Taylor
Kishwer Falkner
Susan Kramer
Dominic Addington
Sally Hamwee
Olly Grender
Phil Willis
Paul Tyler


Once again it is Norman that scoops up not only more of the Lords, but a much more impressive list. Having Shirley Williams and Paddy Ashdown on your side must be pretty useful! So useful in fact that I wondered at first why Norman does not seem to have featured Paddy in any of his literature.

The answer seems to be that ballot papers (with the latest literature from both candidates) went out on 24th June. It appears that Paddy Ashdown only declared his support for Norman (via twitter to his 19,000 followers) on that day (24th June).

paddy tweet

If this is the case, Norman must be spitting feathers that he could not get that all-important endorsement into the leaflet accompanying the ballot paper. Will that have cost Norman the leadership?

There are some other notable names on the list declaring for one or other candidate. Sarah Ludford, Andrew Duff (ex MEPs) support Norman. Fiona Hall (ex MEP) and Catherine Bearder (Lib Dems only current MEP) break for Tim. Also worthy of note is Willie Rennie (Leader of the Scottish Lib Dems) declaration for Tim.


dappy N-DubzFrank BrunoThe prize for best supporter(s) has to go to Norman however. No. Not Shirley or Paddy. Norman has captured some heavy weight support from outside of politics. Frank Bruno has clearly been knocked out by Norman’s work on mental health and N-Dubz star “Dappy” has taken to twitter to show his support for Norman too. With some 875,000 followers on twitter, Dappy’s support has got go someway to getting the vote out (assuming at least some of his followers are Lib Dems of course !). If nothing else it shows that Norman has the ability to excite people from outside of politics to get involved- no bad thing for a party that is going to struggle to get its voice heard on traditional news media in the coming years.

The bookies odds have Tim Farron as the clear favourite to become the next leader of the Lib Dems. But as we have seen in previous Lib Dem leadership elections, the betting market is pretty illiquid. It doesn’t take much cash to skew the odds in favour of one or other candidate, intentionally or not, out of all recognition. And it is worth noting that traditionally the activists have always made more noise during leadership elections – putting their poster boy into the lead on the betting markets – but it is the centrist candidate that the wider membership end up voting for.

Of course, this election may be different. The “Lib Dem membership surge” in recent weeks, may be comprised primarily of the disillusioned (who quit when the liberals went into power with the Conservatives) coming home. But that is mere speculation and even if partially true, not all will be of the left-leaning variety. And not all of those will vote for the sometimes gaff-prone Tim. And let’s not forget those who stuck with the Lib Dems throughout the past five years. Everyone agrees that Norman had a pretty good time of it in Government, winning respect from fellow politicians of all colours.

Given Norman’s impressive supporters list (including the somewhat late arrival of Paddy Ashdown), in a two horse race, I wonder whether the value bet is Norman. Long odds of course, but worth a tenner perhaps?

[Please do let me know, via the comments section, of any additions/omissions/errors in the above lists and I will correct.]

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Kennedy’s Legacy & The Leadership Election

By Editor
June 5th, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Comments Off on Kennedy’s Legacy & The Leadership Election | Posted in Liberal Democrats

A difficult article for Liberal Democrats, and unwisely inaccurate to personalise the issue to Kennedy so much, and so soon. But the underlying issues raised are there all the same. Collins, as a project New Labour man is more sympathetic to the Lamb-cause than Farron-project. No surprise there. I’m not entirely sure he gets either right.

Farron will be more left-wing and populist than Clegg. Clearly. I’m not sure it’s correct though to presume that means a return to the Kennedy era. Kennedy’s Party was relatively left-wing because the Labour Party wasn’t. It was populist because it seemed to help win by-elections. It would be difficult to ascribe anything as uncouth as a deliberate strategy those events. Kennedy for example while more left himself, was very happy to sponsor groups and MPs that were not and build the ground for the change that came.

Farron on the other hand has the vision thing. He does seem to know where he’s going and wants the Party to come with him. He wants to lead a revolution not chair factions with a vaguely common purpose.

Whether or not this revolution is actually capable of achieving, let alone wielding power is not clear. Will for example Farron find himself scrapping with a Burnham-led Labour Party for a handful of Guardian readers? heralding another decade of majority rule by a centre-right minority. Or will a few good crises enable him to do to Labour what Labour did to the Liberals? Perhaps both?

Lamb, I agree is more pragmatic, more clear about his comfort with being in Government. More comfortable with compromise and coalitions. He is more classically liberal in the Orange-Book mould. But he’s not offering a grand strategy for a return to power, let alone holding on to it. He has set out his ‘liberal vision’, but one it’s rather hard to see as distinct, other than being less left-wing.

His Leadership campaign so far for example appears to be classic populism. Principally a mental health revolution, and mobilising the suspicion the Party’s significant gay rights lobby has about Farron’s theological views.

The Lamb critique then is not dissimilar from one Collins makes about Kennedy. What do you do if you get there? With ‘if’ very heavily underlined.

Clegg got there and promptly set about imploding. In part due to the internal contradictions of the Party. In part his lazy indifference to doing very much about them. In part due to the difficulty in selling something that amounted to being ‘a bit like the others, just more liberal’. Then switching tack mid-term to being little more than a brake on the ‘nasty Tories’. Trying to run a ‘keep the bastards honest’ pitch works better if you’re not one of the bastards. It doesn’t work at all if you cack-handedly manage to make honesty the antithesis of your personal brand.

Neither Lamb or Farron have that problem, quite the opposite. But the Liberal Democrat Party, after a string of avoidable scandals made much worse by the Liberal Democrat Party, still does. On that issue Farron has a track record of asking questions and leading reform. Lamb of avoiding getting embroiled.

In respect of the full package then, a vision, a sense of the organisation needed to deliver it, underlined by values that are applied consistently, arguably Farron is more the Blairite. Lamb the more Kennedyesque. Neither though will be repeating history. Both are very much their own people better judged in that light, responding to events today, than by comparison to circumstances and Leaders past.

Collins should avoid the temptation to view absolutely every political problem through the narrow prism of his own experience of the Labour Party.