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Monday, January 04, 2016

Is Vince Cable right that we should be working with Labour dissidents?

With the Labour Party on the verge of civil war and with Labour MPs increasingly unhappy at the direction their new leader is taking them in, it may seem the most natural thing in the world for the Liberal Democrats to seek common cause with Labour refuseniks. Indeed that is precisely what Vince Cable is proposing.

In the Independent, the former Business Secretary is reported as saying that the Liberal Democrats and Labour MPs opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership will have to “work together” to create an “effective opposition” to the Government.

Vince is absolutely right of course in saying that Labour under Mr Corbyn is “nowhere near being a challenger for Government” and in warning that the UK risks becoming a “one-party state” under the Conservatives with no convincing opposition.

He is also right in highlighting that there is a great deal of cross-party cooperation in Parliament on individual issues and that when it comes to national campaigns such as the European referendum we will be working with members of all parties and none on a common cause.

What we should not be doing, in my view, is seeking to formalise or extend these relationships. The reason why we had a surge in membership after the General Election was because people saw the need for a distinctive liberal party.

With the present Tory government undermining basic civil liberties and adopting an increasingly reactionary agenda and with Labour moving to the authoritarian left, we need a party extolling basic liberal values more than ever. What is the point of being an effective opposition if we are not being an effective liberal opposition?

What we cannot afford to do is to undermine our own rebuilding work by diluting our liberal values or by giving people the impression that we are an adjunct to or a faction of another party.

If there was one thing that the coalition showed very clearly, it is that as a party, as a campaigning force and in terms of our support in the country, we were not strong enough to withstand the pressures of being strongly associated with another party. We undermined our own brand and nearly destroyed the Liberal Democrats in the process.

That is a lesson we need to learn. And for the time being at least it is in our best interests to continue to rebuild around our own distinctive policies and messages, without the distraction of alliances, formal or otherwise, with other parties or parts thereof.
Read, read!


In my opinion we should avoid any official partnerships with any other parties as we continue to try to re-build faith in the Liberal movement. We are continuing to make mistakes that, in my opinion in Scotland, make it harder and harder for us to get any trust back. Here is a part of my latest blog but one which sums up how I feel since becoming a member of the party, I accept that I am coming from a place that many in the Scottish lib Dems will find much to disagree and disapprove of but they do need to listen to all views as if you can't convince people like myself, a member, that we are moving in the right direction then we can't recover.

" While I remain a committed member of the Liberal Democratic Party the party remains a disappointment in so many ways. I suspect it has some more falling to do before any real change happens. The reason I think this is because it has failed to learn from past mistakes and continues to follow the Clegg line which has virtually wiped it out. It continues to say it is a federalist party while filling the House of Lords, it supported the bombing of Syria, it continues to push the myth that the Scotland Act is the Vow being delivered, it has supported Alistair Carmichael even though the comments from the judges could not have painted a worse picture of an untrustworthy politician. They choose to stand up and say this was all a nationalist attack, which is was not, but the result and their actions were an attack on our local democracy in the that local voters should have the right of recall over a lying politician. The party leadership in Scotland continues to push ahead with all female short lists, how illiberal can you get. That may well be the thing that pushes me over the edge this year if passed at the spring conference, I do not and will never support all female short lists. While they are correct in raising concerns about GP numbers, mental health services, the plight of refugees, the super database, these are wiped out by the above. Sad to say but I suspect the Scottish Liberal democrats will do well to keep what they have right now come May. "

I hope you don't mind my posting this opinion.

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