As Lib Dem leader, Cable’s coalition past is in the spotlight – he must tackle it head on | The Friday Article

As Labour and the Tories veered off to the far edges of the political spectrum, the Liberal Democrats were the middle ground for the electorate. Led by a young politician with no coalition backstory, simply a vision of an ‘open, tolerant and united’ Britain, those wary of Corbynism but frustrated with austerity backed Tim Farron’s movement. Whilst the growth in the party’s number of MPs was minimal, faith was slowly but surely returning to the Lib Dems. Yet now, the election of Vince Cable as Farron’s replacement could undo the so-called ‘Lib Dem fightback’.

Tim Farron slowly won back faith in the Liberal Democrats. The election of Vince Cable (pictured) threatens to undo that process. Photo: Liberal Democrats/Flickr.

It seems as though the Liberal Democrats could learn a few things from Corbyn when it comes to vanquishing your party’s haunted past. The allotment fanatic was able to drive out Blairism in a Labour that was stuck to the right of the political spectrum. Granted, a public apology was given by Nick Clegg for the mistakes of the coalition, but the fact that the video is remembered more for its catchy parody than the original, shows just how seriously everybody took the message.

So, aside from the fact Cable was elected with no opposition (we can save the debate about how democratic this is for another day), the electorate – and certainly young people – have not forgotten the tuition fee u-turn and countless other controversial decisions made between 2010 and 2015. In the recent election, the Liberal Democrats had the added bonus of ‘the progressive alliance’ on their side. Now, the subsequent assumption that the party will return to flirting with right-wing policies could not come at a worse time, when there is a need for centrist politics.

It would be wrong to assume that all young people were swept under the wave of socialism brought about by Jeremy Corbyn. However, Farron’s Liberal Democrats allowed some of them to back the party when tactical voting allowed that to happen. With promises of a second Brexit referendum on the final deal and the 1p income tax plan for the NHS, the appealing policies meant the party was a back-up plan for young people unable to back Labour. However indirect, the ‘progressive alliance’ or ‘anything but the Tories’ operation led to young adults putting their cross in the box for the Liberal Democrats. A realist would argue that it was a ‘last resort’ option, but an optimist would have  you believe that a sense of trust or faith was starting to develop in the minds of young people, despite the calamitous decision to break their promise on student fees.

However much it shouldn’t be, emotion-led politics means personality has a big part to play in today’s votes. As the coalition minister responsible for the privatisation of Royal Mail, the haunted past of the Liberal Democrats has been shoved back into the spotlight following Cable’s election. If the Lib Dems are to continue the laborious process of winning back young people’s trust in the Lib Dems (led by Farron), then a leader who is willing to adapt and tackle the issue head on could be the answer.

 

 

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There’s a hidden truth behind the snap election – we must be suspicious | Liam O’Dell

After nearly three weeks since the triggering of Article 50, the Tories have finally spat out the Brexit pill which no party wants to swallow. A snap election on June 8 will continue to create more uncertainty that Theresa May promised to end.

Photo: Number 10 on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/.

“At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division.

“The country is coming together, but Westminster is not,” the Prime Minister said in a speech earlier today.

We must be suspicious. An arrogant Conservative Party determined to defy the rulings of judges and Lords to pass the Brexit Bill has once again resorted to Cameron’s levels of cowardice. Voters will remember that, but they must question the true reason for calling the election.

The immediate presumption would be that it is an attempt to decimate Labour, but that is questionable. It seems too great a risk for May to sacrifice the Tory majority (and a supposed lack of opposition on Brexit from Corbyn) to ‘kill’ the left-wing party. If the PM expects to win back a majority in June, then she is forgetting that a general election has become more than a Labour vs. Conservative battle.

A call for a snap election is – of course – a gamble, and it’s one May appears to have taken due to the disunity in other parties (according to her speech, at least).

With Labour’s in-fighting continuing to bubble every once in a while, the SNP tackling their own referendum and the Lib Dem’s membership slowly rising, it seems as though May is aiming for a wipeout whilst building upon her majority. But when has disunity within other parties ever hindered the Tories’ Brexit plans? If anything, it’s almost given May a ‘carte blanche’ to do her thing without any real scrutiny.

It’s even more confusing when the Conservatives have always been arrogant and stubborn when enforcing policies. To gamble their majority for the sake of silencing other parties, or getting them to support their plan, seems unfathomable.

So what is the explanation for the snap election? My friend Jarrad Johnson raises an interesting point, saying on Twitter that “someone or something has forced May’s hands behind the scenes.”

It’s an interesting comment when we look back at the past. The last time we had a vote between the typical five-year period was, of course, the 2016 EU referendum. On that occasion, it was believed that this was to end the internal conflict within the Tory party about whether we should leave the European Union. Now, as we face another surprise election before the end of the usual five-year term, we have to consider whether the same arguments are occurring once more.

As Labour and the Tories reach the edges of the political spectrum, the Lib Dems will rise | The Friday Article

Jeremy Corbyn will win the Labour leadership election, whilst Theresa May’s government will move to the right as it tries to deal with all the political baggage from Brexit. The EU referendum has accelerated the main parties’ move towards the far ends of the political spectrum. At a time where hatred against the establishment is brewing, the Conservatives will carefully enforce more right-wing policies. Meanwhile, Labour’s ‘unelectable’ position under Corbyn won’t appeal to the electorate. With that in mind, the Liberal Democrats will continue to rise as voters long for a middle ground.

May's cabinet will move to the right as they deal with Brexit, whilst Corbyn's Labour party will try to move to the far-left. The electorate will long for some middle ground. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode.
May’s cabinet will move to the right as they deal with Brexit, whilst Corbyn’s Labour party will try to move to the far-left. The electorate will long for some middle ground. Photo: Liberal Democrats on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode.

The Liberal Democrats have been blessed with a stress-free rebirth, free from the scrutiny of the right-wing press. Most people have presumed that the party is extinct, wiped out after the 2015 General Election, but under the fresh leadership of Tim Farron, the Lib Dems are making a comeback. Whilst young voters may resent their broken promise on tuition fees, those longing for a party to fulfil the need for left-wing policies may be tempted by the party which aims to “balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”.

I’ve already talked about how the Liberal Democrats should have been at the forefront of the fight against tuition fees, and that would have been the best way for the party to heal the open wound left by Nick Clegg. Whilst that is something Lib Dems still continue to address, the Tories are still recovering from the internal war caused by Brexit, and Labour is trying to deal with the remaining issues of the Iraq War and the conflict within the Parliamentary Labour Party. When you look at it like this, the Liberal Democrats have less of a remnant to get rid of.

Whilst Tuesday’s poll puts the Conservatives at a 16-point lead ahead of Labour (with the Liberal Democrats on 8% of the vote), we must remember the times when the polls get it wrong, and the fact that May’s government will slowly start to introduce far-right policies which will feel out-of-place in a post-Brexit society.

Theresa May’s election as Prime Minister may have brought some temporary stability, but uncertainty still lingers amongst the general public. In-fights will only frustrate the electorate more. Now is the time for a united party, and the Liberal Democrats may be the party which fits the bill.

Liam

A post-Brexit Britain needs structure and definition | The Friday Article

Brexit has forced us to redefine our society. Existential crises have hit the two main political parties, with talks about Cameron’s replacement and a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn dominating the newspaper headlines. Attitudes in Britain have changed because of the decision to leave the European Union, to an extent where we don’t completely know what politics, or being British is anymore.

Jeremy Corbyn's 'straight-talking, honest politics' may not work after his 'half-hearted' remain campaign. Photo source: Garry Knight on Twitter.
Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘straight-talking, honest politics’ may not work after his ‘half-hearted’ remain campaign. Photo source: Garry Knight on Flickr.

After a leave vote, the electorate is fed up with lies and political propaganda. Corbyn’s promising ‘straight-talking, honest politics’ line he said last year would have worked wonders in a post-Brexit Britain, but not when his ‘half-hearted’ attitude led to an unsuccessful campaign from Labour for us to remain in the European Union.

“At a time where the Tory government is fractured, a dominant opposition could make monumental changes to government policy.”

It is this which has prompted rebellious Labour MPs to trigger an attack against Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party – a move completely unnecessary when he has overwhelming support from unions and the party members, who would obviously vote Jeremy back in again should he be unseated. At a time where the Tory government is fractured, a dominant opposition could make monumental changes to government policy. Instead, we are challenging all aspects of British culture and politics. It something which prompts so many questions that we simply don’t have the time to answer – there is no clear schedule or anything which is keeping British politics alive.

David Cameron was right to resign and create a stalemate across the whole of the political spectrum – not just his own party – to save his career. By delaying both the election of the new Conservative leader (and Prime Minister) and Brexit negotiations until around September, David Cameron will still be known as the Prime Minister who brought about a vote to leave the European Union, but he won’t be the one to actually do it. It’s up to his successor to live with that label, and to move Britain towards an independent state.

With that in mind, Boris Johnson made the right decision to turn Vote Leave’s post-Brexit plans into something which sounded like a manifesto. His idea of an Australian-style points-based system was one of the main policies which of course could only happen should a Vote Leave politician ever get close to the door of 10 Downing Street. With Michael Gove standing in the leadership contest, Vote Leave could see their plans for an independent Britain enacted through Gove as Prime Minister.

“The race to be the next Tory leader may be the vote which determines how the UK plans to leave the European Union, and whether the Conservative Party spirals over to the far-right or continues Cameron’s ‘legacy’.

After all, there’s no doubt that the Conservative leadership contest will be about what each individual candidate plans to do with our relationship with the EU, rather than their manifestos being about new party policies. Earlier this week, Jeremy Hunt proposed that the general public should vote for a Brexit plan in a second referendum, but the race to be the next Tory leader may be the vote which determines how the UK plans to leave the European Union, and whether the Conservative Party goes in a completely new direction under Gove or continues Cameron’s agenda under May.

It’s a referendum which has seen both of the main parties shift in their political stance. The Labour Party is desperate to run away from Corbyn’s far-left attitude, and the Conservative Party is on the verge of a far-right uprising. If Labour and the Tories are both leaning off either side of the political spectrum, then the time may finally come for the Liberal Democrats to take centre stage.

As much as the vote to leave has highlighted Britain’s current attitudes towards the European Union, immigration and many other policies, the next Prime Minister will also have a huge part to play in defining Britain’s society and its politics. Questions about racism, xenophobia, the stigma surrounding immigration, the conflict between the younger and older generations are just some of the concerns that will need to be addressed as the country moves forward.

Politics always demands structure and definition, and after a vote to leave the European Union, this has broken down the foundations of British politics, and what it means to be British. It should not be up to far-right political parties, obsessed with nationalism, to decide our country’s new values.

Already, we’re seeing young people unite to show support for the European Union – and rightfully so. The statistics constantly cited prove that most young people backed the remain vote and now the opposite has happened, young people are more engaged than ever.

There’s no doubt that most people only pay attention to politics when it affects them, and the EU referendum’s ‘vote in a generation’ has impacted the young people of today.

They are now more engaged than ever, but in order to maintain that, political parties must clarify their stance, so young people know where to stand.

Why Tim Farron should lead the fight against the Conservatives’ plans for tuition fees | The Friday Article

Past mistakes are affecting parties on the political spectrum. Labour are worrying about the upcoming report from the Chilcot enquiry, whilst a flawed mayoral campaign by the Conservatives exposed hatred and racism in the party. Now, the Tories’ plans to further increase university tuition fees have reminded us all of a ghost which still haunts the Liberal Democrats Party, but this may be the chance for them to finally move on.

Tim Farron
Tim Farron should fight against the Tories’ plans for tuition fees, and rid the party of the mistrust caused by Nick Clegg. Photo: Liberal Democrats on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

After all, it was something the Lib Dems hoped would go with Nick Clegg following his resignation as leader of the party. For previous leaders involved in government, their broken promises and radical policies have always been assigned to them more than the political group they represent – take Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, for example. However, this didn’t happen for The Liberal Democrats. They lost 49 seats in last year’s general election, mistrust still lingers around them and the media – presuming the party is ‘non-existent’ – has focussed on Labour and the Conservatives’ internal affairs instead.

Granted, the Liberal Democrats talking about tuition fees would only be seen as prying open a wound which was doing its best to heal. Yet, that is precisely the point. The mistrust generated comes from broken promises on tuition fees, so why not start the process of winning the trust back by fighting against that exact policy?

At the moment, Labour’s petition has had over 195,000 signatures, but as the party who introduced university tuition fees in 1998, their impact with the petition could crumble should the Conservatives decide to bring up that fact. Meanwhile, the issue with the Liberal Democrats is slightly different and more understandable. Unlike Labour’s conscious decision to implement the fees, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats had to accept David Cameron’s plans to raise tuition fees, despite it not being their intention. It’s a small contrast, but it’s something the general public are accepting, slowly and reluctantly.

With Tim Farron as their new leader and success in this year’s local elections, the Liberal Democrats are on the rise with renewed passion and motivation, but they still have a way to go in winning back the public’s trust. Whilst the controversy over tuition fees has always somewhat restrained the Lib Dems since 2010, now, it may in fact set them free.

Liam