Time for a different approach?

There has been much talk of the Liberal Democrats failing to make any ground in the run up to this election. Like many others I joined up for a single issue and my belief that the LibDems simply could not fail to capitalise on their distinct position on Brexit. It seems I had misjudged their uselessness completely.

Having spent some (probably too much) time on a variety of LibDem forums it has become glaringly obvious that the LibDems are their own worst enemy. There is no central strategy, no evidence of any planning and no cohesion. The party is essentially a disparate group of people, many of whom are fervent believers and put in a great deal of effort. Imagine one hundred people in harness all pulling against one another. A great deal of redoubling of effort has gone on and the result is the same. An increase in effort with no change in outcome.

Being LibDems then most people are very pleasant to one another whilst all thinking that there is a different/better way to focus effort. Many do not feel encumbered by lack of knowledge of a topic and are happy to offer ill-informed and at times plain ignorant opinion that others are equally guilty of swallowing. If one contrasts this against the Conservative election winning machine it is depressing. The Tories may be toxic but when the time comes they manage to run with a modicum of discipline and focus that eludes the LibDems. In response many LibDems cite a ‘free-spirit’ vibe that they feels defines the party. That is as maybe but it is not going to win an election. Remarks like, “a solid second” are made. In UK parliamentary elections there are no medals for second place. Second is just the first loser. Bemoaning the unfairness of the First Past The Post (FPTP) System is no good. If you want Proportional Representation then the system requires change from within and that will only happen if they win under the present set-up. A game is being played whether you like it or not. Play that game, win at that game then set about changing the rules. Losing but consoling yourself that you remain on the moral high ground means that the party will never govern, but be relegated to the status of a disorganised think tank. To cap it all the leader, Tim Farron, may be a great guy though he lacks the charismatic leader qualities of Macron, Trudeau, Blair, Thatcher etc. You either have that or you don’t. Farron simply hasn’t got it.

There has been one superb article from Hugo Rifkind in The Times that describes very well the argument for a new centre ground party to emerge. Have this discussion with many LibDems and the amount of “yes but” replies is staggering. Funding, FPTP, no suitable leadership candidates within the ranks etc. All these excuses mean it is impossible: if they are listened to. A new party needs a great leader, funding and a bit of time.

If a start-up business approach was taken to forming a new party then it is a possibility. There needs to be a professional approach from the outset. This means a good team, a business plan and money. Rifkind observes that there are many disaffected Labour and Conservative heavy hitters that do not like the way their parties are lurching. They are career people and need to see a good proposition for themselves in much the same way as potential backers need to see an RoI. Why this can’t be pitched to potential backers in the same way a business idea is is beyond me. Capital wants a return and the added bonus of a political party is that it is selling a centrist ideology that I suspect many people will identify with. With the Labour party lurching to the left and insulting the electorate by being obsessed with itself in the form of infighting, whilst the Tories lurch to the right with the assumption of UKIP and their apparently useless stance on Brexit then there is a vacuum.

An economically sensible, environmentally and socially conscious middle ground party is something the current LibDems can never be. They are seeded with pseudo-marxists on the one hand and economically conservative liberals with a social conscience on the other. The two sides of this yellow coin will never see eye-to-eye. It is time for a new player.

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Rarely has the political choice been so clear cut

Politics is ordinarily a highly nuanced topic and choosing can be difficult. However, the snap general election in the UK, coming so soon after the vote to leave the European Union has suddenly thrown the voting options into two very stark choices.

Choice one is either of the two largest parties in the UK. Presently: the Conservative party seems hell-bent on driving the UK into either a hard-Brexit or a no-deal scenario. Alternatively, you can could choose the Labour party which also has a pro-Brexit stance. Furthermore, the Labour party is in an organisational shambles. It is poorly led, riven with infighting and is in no shape to lead the country.

The arguments about the rights and wrongs of the decision to leave are behind us. The only thing left to exert any degree of control over is the way the leaving process is managed. As the Brexit vote is a reflection of a very narrow section of the United Kingdom electorate that got out to vote (note to the reader: this is what happens when you vote. Change. Not always for the good)  it signifies huge upset for this country long into the future, both economic and social.  This general election is all about installing a party that can help control the manner of our exit. Damage limitation.

For those of use that thought the UK should remain in the EU then either of the scenarios where the Tories win a huge majority or the Labour party gains power are unacceptable.

The only major party that has been consistently pro-EU has been the Liberal Democrats.

This election is all about Brexit, even the Tory Prime Minister said so. The only way to exert any control over the manner of our departure and our longer term relationship with the EU is to vote for the Liberal Democrats. It is that clear and simple.

I am aware that this is simplistic. Ordinarily you might not vote LibDem. This is about how you feel about our self-inflicted and messy break with the EU. For once it is a simple choice. Once the handbrake is on then we can attend to the regularity of day-to-day politics. If you are indeed a Remainer then the decision is a simple one.

(conflict of interest disclaimer – I joined the LibDems a few days ago for the simple reason outlined above)