Readers have their say on what the Lib Dems must do to turn around their fortunes with the electorate.
Emma Kennedy makes several good points in her recent article. Despite a disappointing seat tally the Lib Dem vote in 2019 went up by a solid 4.1% to a respectable 11.5% on an unequivocal pro-EU platform. Surely with this catastrophic government the time has finally come for the new Lib Dem leader and Keir Starmer to negotiate an electoral pact in a concerted effort to oust the sitting Tory MP in the next election where the first-past-the-post system clearly splits the anti-Tory vote. This would be on the understanding that both Labour and Lib Dems make manifesto commitments to a fair system of proportional representation (PR) for future elections.
There are so many seats where frankly Labour or Lib Dems do not have a hope in hell of ever winning.
Let me be pragmatic and propose that in at least 150 Tory-held seats where Labour and Lib Dems came second and third in 2019 and the margin between second and third was decisive, that the third placed party not stand next time.
This should be done well before the next election before most prospective third party candidates are selected. It is to be hoped that in all those seats the Greens would also stand down as they would also benefit hugely from PR. Yes I know Lib Dem tuition fees was a mistake but so was Labour’s Iraq – that is history now. I have supported this idea since the 1980s. If not now, when?
I left the Lib Dems just as it became ‘dead centre’ ie dead and wishy washy, swamped by the free market ideology of the Orange Bookers. I’ve rejoined recently encouraged by the more radical thinking of Wera Hobhouse and Layla Moran.
Returning to the soggy thinking made manifest in Emma Kennedy’s article in the previous issue of TNE, where she stated the obvious that electoral reform must be on the main agenda and didn’t outline a more radical approach as set out in the Moran-influenced policy document Build Back Better, is not an option.
Ed Davey’s candidacy is holed below the waterline with his fatal association with the Tory coalition and the bedroom tax, public sector cut backs and dropping tuition fees. The relaunch of the party as a radical electoral force to the left of Keir Starmer’s Labour cannot happen with a leader always besmirched by that history.
Moran is a different proposition altogether with her natural inclination to want to form a new left of centre force for change, her easy ability to speak to the media and her Palestinian background. Never mind that Davey has the backing of the party’s ‘great and good’. They’ve been in charge for far too long!
I fought three general elections as a Liberal Alliance and Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate and always got a good hearing as a Lib Dem who wanted to see the rail industry back in public ownership. I also founded the Chard Group (1992) to fight the nonsense of ‘equidistance’. I always understood that the party’s lack of success was due to muddled thinking and wrong strategy.
I believe that Layla has more than proved her ability to win both Labour and soft Tory votes in Oxford West and Abingdon.
She now deserves a crack at becoming the leader of a revived party that finally becomes the radical, left of centre movement that it was always destined to be.
• These letters were published before the result was announced.
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