What is in the Liberal Democrat manifesto (and what isn’t)

It was Labour’s turn on Tuesday, and yesterday it was the Lib Dems opportunity to launch their manifesto for the General Election on June 8th. The big themes? Rejoining Europe, smoking weed, and doing both of those outside of a coalition.

According to their website, and re-iterated in the manifesto, the Lib Dems have ruled out any coalitions with either Labour or the Tories, and are are pitching themselves to become the opposition, rather than the government. They claim this is because both parties are too ‘pro-Brexit’, and they won’t support allowing either party to take Britain out of the single market.  Continue reading

The Liberal Democrat campaign in Stoke Central

Individually, some are great. I’d even count one of them as a friend. But as a party I cannot stand the bloody Liberal Democrats, and the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election reminded me why.

The LibDems will be quite pleased with their performance last Thursday. As the spotlight was on the other parties, their vote quietly put on five percentage points, the deposit was saved, and they recaptured some of the support lost since 2015. The Wheatsheaf Hotel was their base in Stoke, which was perhaps a little too from the beaten track for many London journos to find. And, by the sounds of it, ‘celebrity’ LibDems as well. Fresh from her triumph in Richmond, Sarah Olney was on hand and, well, that was about it. Oh yes, Tim Farron slid his way briefly into the constituency for a photo opp before a rapid, frictionless exit. They were never contenders, and having selected Dr Zulfiqar Ali – one of the few politicians to have lost more elections than Nigel Farage – they knew it too. Continue reading

Hard on the ‘Progressive Alliance’, hard on the causes of the ‘Progressive Alliance’

SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon

SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon

In recent months the question of whether Labour ought to consider a “progressive alliance” with other anti-Tory parties has become a major talking point on the left. Clive Lewis, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has come out in favour of the position as has influential pro-Corbyn journalist Paul Mason. The exact formation of what a progressive alliance entails or who would be involved in one remain unclear. Continue reading

Will future Labour conferences be as boring as the Lib Dems?

Nick CleggWhy does the Liberal Democrat conference look so boring? In the bare basics of their procedures and practices, the Lib Dems probably crack down on dissent and debate less than Labour or the Tories. And yet as middle aged white men with horrendous jumpers take to the podium on TV, I can’t help thanking god Labour’s not like that. Even if Clegg’s lot do seem to have a more laissez-faire party machine.

Maybe it’s because when you see this bunch vote for a mild-mannered “investigation” into the bedroom tax, you know that it’s the same lot who voted overwhelmingly for the coalition agreement that props such measures up. But it’s bigger than that. You look at them and you wonder what binds them together. And it turns out it’s only the membership card of an increasingly irrelevant organisation. No common principles other than wishy-washery and opportunism. No class solidarity. And a tradition that was always confused and contrived to begin with.

Continue reading