Lib Dem Party Presidency – Three to Choose From


1:15 am - September 25th 2008

by Jennie Rigg    


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Just to pause among all the posts about Labour at the moment: nominations closed today for the Lib Dem party presidency, and (as reported on the beeb and LDV) three candidates have gone forward to the next stage: Baroness Ros Scott, Lembit Opik, and Chandila Fernando.

Chandila is the director of Liberal Vision. He’s a defector from the Tories (which could be a good thing or a bad thing) and I don’t know that much else about him. He doesn’t appear to have begun campaigning in any meaningful way as yet, although I’ll happily be corrected on this.

Lembit is well known to all, and that’s his blessing and his curse. He’s a hugely intelligent man, with a fine grasp of the minutiae of policy. He’s well-liked among activists and the public alike. The only problem is… He’s Lembit. Often, even when he’s right (as with the asteroid thing) he puts it in such a way as to make everyone laugh at him. The media are not-so-subtly backing him (the same way they did Ming) because they know he would be a gift for them in their need to extract the urine from the party. Anyone considering backing Lembit needs to think about whether or not they believe that all publicity is good publicity. Lembit would certainly get us publicity, but whether that would translate to getting our message across to the public is another matter indeed…

Ros also has a formiddable intellect and a good grasp of policy. She’s also got Lembit’s amiable touch and knack of getting on with people. She doesn’t have his downsides. She has a long record of activity in local government, and her list of contacts within the party is at least the equal of Lembit’s. She also has the backing of such luminaries as Paddy PantsAshdown and Shirley Williams. Ros’s only arguable downside that I can see is that she doesn’t have Lembit’s media profile – and I’m not so sure that’s a downside.

A dispassionate analysis, then, would lead one to choose Ros (and I nailed my colours to that mast a good while back), but Lembit has a groundswell of support, and the armchair members are likely to have a propensity to vote for the candidate they are most familiar with… Chandila is clearly not in with a chance, given the feelings aroused by Liberal Vision, but is it possible Lembit could nick it from under Ros’s nose?

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Reader comments


Hmmmm,

I admit, I need to be educated about Ros – a great deal of Lib Dem bloggers seem keen. But is Lembit really such a liability? Personally, while he’s admittedly kooky, I rather like him.

Wouldn’t he be a good spokesperson (I mean, how important is a party president?), and wouldn’t he raise the party’s profile?

I suppose I’m asking people to make the case for Ros (not that I have a vote).

I’d like to hear someone make a case for the Lib Dems full-stop. Seriously – what are their socialist credentials? How do they propose to narrow the gap between rich and poor (perhaps one of their number could tease out their tax proposals for me)?

And more – can someone tell me how I am to distinguish between the Lib Dems and the two main parties now? As a (very much) former Labour voter, I’m casting about for a new place to put my vote, as it were, but am struggling to get any sort of purchase on the Lib Dems’ true place on the landscape.

This isn’t meant to be one of my smartarsed comments – I’d genuinely like the Lib Demmers on this blog to tell me a bit more about who their party is and why a former Labour voter should consider it. I don’t really care who takes up the token role of party president (although Lembit looks like the one who’d most enjoy it) – I want to know who you guys ARE.

Etc.

… tax cuts would be welcome, etc, but wouldn’t the ones Clegg proposes require too harsh a cull of public services? I think the destruction of public services has been one of the most devastating aspects of New Labour – wouldn’t Clegg take us there as well with his proposals? I tend to agree – for the moment, anyway – with those who’ve described these tax-cut initiatives as Old Tory.

Seriously – what are their socialist credentials?

I would normally call this. But, I guess, in these uncertain times (and with Labour so emasculated by its love-in with the city), socialist-minded lefties have no-where to turn.

Personally, I’d like the Liberal Democrats to be LIBERAL. Both economically (with limits), and socially. Clegg *seems* to be on board with this idea…

‘I would normally call this. But, I guess, in these uncertain times (and with Labour so emasculated by its love-in with the city), socialist-minded lefties have no-where to turn.’

Out of interest – what’s your definition of a socialist-minded leftie? I found that a little dismissive, although would concede that I might be reading too much into it.

As it happens, I’m rather the capitalist myself – certainly have a lot of time still for money-making and the entrepreneurial approach. I also happen to believe in decent public services – especially health and education services. One does not necessarily need to be caught up in the notion of state to believe that the state ought to provide in some areas. A person can also understand that it is necessary to pay tax if a country is to have decent public services, and not see tax cuts as the boon they’re supposed to be. I like money very much, but I also like the idea of having a decent hospital to go to should I fall under a bus. It’s possible to be a socialist-minded leftie capitalist.

So – is that what the Lib Dems are? Can you cut taxes as you propose and provide decent public services? Where’s the cash going to come from? There ain’t a lot of it around at the moment, after all. Is proposing tax cuts a bit previous in the current economic environment?

Hmm, this looks like a real choice between three very different candidates.

Ros Scott for the grass roots, Lembit for the pop-culture vote and Fernando for the people with ambitions.

Looking at it from my perspective Lembit won’t lose any profile from failing to win the vote, nor will the party lose any profile, so I think he is the easy centrist choice – the no-win, no-lose option. And I’d reject him on this basis.

This leaves a straight-up fight between one who looks like a trendy establishment interloper and another who looks like someone completely immersed in the party who has risen up through the ranks on merit.

I think how this vote is decided will be determined by the balance of how the party membership views itself and how it would like to view itself, so for people like Kate and myself the result should be a clear indication of who LibDems actually are. The problem will then be of gaining attention for them to be able to make their case to a wide enough audience.

BTW, Kate, when you talk about ‘socialist-minded leftie capitalism’ I don’t know what you mean – it sounds like you are someone who wants to be far-out and radical, but are actually quite nice, sane and sensible. Do you wear a tweed suit with dyed hair?

[Chandiler Fernando] doesn’t appear to have begun campaigning

Depends whether or not you count this little stunt as ‘campaigning’, I suppose…

@2. Kate: that’s a whole other post, but I think it’s not a half-bad idea for Liberal Conspiracy, as long as all parties represented among the contributors were offered the chance to put their party’s case and position in soaring prose.

In the meantime, you could always read the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution for a clue.

And the short answer about tax cuts and the Lib Dems is that it’s been horribly mishandled as a policy in how it’s been communicated to the media, but we’re aiming for a fairer redistribution of the tax burden, with the less-well-off paying a lot less of it, not a hard libertarian sweeping away of taxes paid for by cutting public spending. I’m not happy with the amount of people who have got the wrong end of the stick about it, and Nick Clegg has to take some of the blame for that, but I’m hoping that by the time we have our final manifesto drafted it will all be a lot clearer.

Kate, the tax cuts would be funded by getting rid of needless stuff like the ID cards scheme (13 billion) and the centralised NHS database (another 9 or so billion). They are also not tax cuts in the right wing sense, but targetted at low income people.

We believe that rather than taking your money off you and then making you come with a begging bowl to get it back (tax credits) we should just leave it in your pocket in the first place. This wouldn’t involve a cut in benefits for those in need, but it would cut down on pointless bureaucracy, and have the added benefit of not being statist and controlling.

Aaron: obviously lots of people have affection for Lembit, but I think his public persona is a huge distraction from the role of president, which is meant to be a conduit between the grass roots and the high ups. I’d also point to how he has performed in his role as housing spokesman – when housing has been in the news, he has been on Celebrity Apprentice, rather than commenting on what is meant to be his brief. Also also, when I was at conference someone who is high up in campaigns told me that they would be voting for Ros because when it comes to a general election scenario, they don’t want to wake up every morning with a feeling of dread thinking “Oh God, how is the president going to fuck up today?”

As for Chandila… Well, if the president is meant to be a conduit between the grass roots and the high ups, the idea of someone who represents a group as divisive and reviled in certain quarters as Liberal Vision being president is not one I want to countenance. And that’s without even going into my specific issues with Liberal Vision’s methodology and positioning, or, indeed, the stunt Steph references in her post.

Kate, surely you’re better than falling in to traditional lines of argument whenever a subject comes up? Tax cuts are something to be taken extremely cautiously, I’d agree, but not every tax cut is at the expense of something that is vital to the nation.

I have to echo Aaron’s sentiments, by the way, with regard to Lembit.

Kate,

I’m not calling you on being a Maoist, just wondering what you expect from the Lib Dems in order for them to have “socialist credentials”?

They’ve not been in government in our lifetime.

That said, I stand by my statement that people marooned to the left of New Labour might find Clegg’s new direction very frustrating.

I’d rather wealth is circulated via. tax cuts for the middle classes and lower-income demographics, than the complicated, easily corruptible, tax-credit system.

Two things, re. services…

1 – I don’t think the public sector – in the main – offers very good value for money at present*.

2 – I think the tax-burden is simply too great. We are living beyond our means – we are overstretched as a nation, and some things have to be cut. Maybe if we had greater efficiencies in the public sector, we could continue through this troubled patch with high taxation, but if services don’t offer value for money (and I don’t mean profit), the money is better in people’s pockets.

*I admit some areas do great things with meagre resources.

This little quote has been appropriate several times in the past couple of weeks for some reason:

“I recognise that [Socialists] are perfectly right in voting against me and voting against the Liberals, because Liberalism is not Socialism, and never will be. There is a great gulf fixed. It is not only a gulf of method, it is a gulf of principle. There are many steps we have to take which our Socialist opponents or friends, whichever they like to call themselves, will have to take with us; but there are immense differences of principle and of political philosophy between our views and their views.

“Liberalism has its own history and its own tradition. Socialism has its own formulas and aims. Socialism seeks to pull down wealth; Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty. Socialism would destroy private interests; Liberalism would preserve private interests in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved, namely, by reconciling them with public right. Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference. Socialism assails the pre-eminence of the individual; Liberalism seeks, and shall seek more in the future, to build up a minimum standard for the mass. Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man. Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly.

“These are the great distinctions which I draw, and which, I think, you will agree I am right in drawing at this election between our respective policies and moods. Don’t think that Liberalism is a faith that is played out; that it is a creed to which there is no expanding future. As long as the world rolls round, Liberalism will have its part to play—grand, beneficent, and ameliorating—in relation to men and States.”

13. Mike Killingworth

Fernando clearly wants to turn the Lib Dems into the equivalent of the US Libertarian party. Probably he’ll hoover up the votes of the card-carrying IT consultants but can’t see why he’d appeal to anyone else.

On the basis of knowing absolutely nothing about the Party whatsoever, I’ll call it as Opik 55%, Scott 35%, Fernando 10%.

On the main article I have already decided I am voting for Ros. Jennie is totally right about Lembit’s flaws; they are simply too great and overbearing in a role such as party president. I didn’t know much about Ros until I ambled around her website but what I saw there rather impressed me.

I don’t buy that Mike. Liberal Vision is very definitely “Libertarian Lite” if Libertarian at all. Real libertarians, not like the US Libertarian Party, are operating within the party at all levels, which is fine. That’s how it should be – we are all part of the same family.

Mike, I’ll take up that bet, I’d reckon on 75% Scott, 20% Lembit, 5% Fernando from what I know of the LibDems I’ve met in person.

Aaron:

Wouldn’t he be a good spokesperson (I mean, how important is a party president?), and wouldn’t he raise the party’s profile?

The role of the President is as important as its holder makes it. In my opinion (as a recent recruit to the party), the current holder and possibly his recent predecessors have been neglecting part of the key role.

Essentially, the role is an internal one, the most important key task is to chair the Federal Executive, to whom the Chief Executive (the noble Lord Chris Rennard) is answerable. It’s the role of the leader to get publicity and sell the policies, it’s the role of the President to ensure the internal workings are good, that members and activists are represented, and most importantly in the current situation, to turn around to Rennard and let him know when he’s either going to far or letting some things slide.

That the Lib Dems failed to hit 80+ seats at the last GE was to my mind a failure of the electoral strategy (I wasn’t a member) combined with poor presentation from the then leader. The poor strategy was designed by the FE. I don’t want an MP to use the role as a publicity boost for their career–I want the role to do as it’s supposed to, and actually be key in the internal running of the party.

Lembit wants to be President to further his career, Chandila from what I can tell decided to run for the Presidency last week, and without a declaration has done so for reasons unknown (I look forward to finding out more, a genuine contest is to be welcomed).

Ros decided to run 18 months ago, has been working hard for over a year and wants the job as she genuinely wants it to be done properly, by a non-MP (with an independent income as it’s not a paid role) and to make sure the party is structurally in good shape for the forthcoming fights.

That’s why it has to be Ros Scott, someone who I know will work constructively with Rennard and Clegg but with the ability (and character) to tell them both when they’re wrong, without needing to worry about future advancement and similar.

Real libertarians ~ Jock

Please elaborate. I’m always very wary of anyone claiming to be a real whatever.

If I had a vote I would be tempted to cast it for Lembit purely on the basis that the Scott candidature looks a bit like a party establishment “Stop Lembit” campaign. I think his alleged “flaws” are overstated personally. What are they, exactly? Basically a tendency to bang on about asteroids a bit and a slightly chequered romantic history. There are worse faults in a politician.

Paul, that might be the case if Ros’s campaign hadn’t started 18 months ago and before anyone even knew that Lembit would be standing…

Kate:

I’d like to hear someone make a case for the Lib Dems full-stop. Seriously – what are their socialist credentials? How do they propose to narrow the gap between rich and poor (perhaps one of their number could tease out their tax proposals for me)?

Ah, that’s a whole other post, and one I’ve been meaning to write for ages now (see the huge pile of posts I’ve written since I signed up as a contributor in February? Oh, wait, two total. Oops).

But to take it in turn,

Seriously – what are their socialist credentials?

Firstly, what do you mean by socialist? I, like the effective founder of modern British liberalism, JS Mill, consider myself a liberal first, a democrat second and a socialist third. All are important, but without liberalism the other two are impossible to my mind, as we’ve seen with the non-liberal socialist experiments of the 20th century. Socialism as a term has a proud history predating Marx, the trades unions, etc, but the twentieth century seemed to blur this so that the word had only one possible meaning in general perception.

The Lib Dems are not, and have never been, TIGMOO, and neither have I. In my opinion, unions in Britain have done very little for the cause of socialism, but have damaged it substantially both in reputation and lost opportunities. Compare this with the relative success, against a tax and organisation structure that opposes it, of the various branches of the co-operative & mutual movements and you can see where socialism of the liberal variety should have gone. If the Labour and Co-operative party had managed to do anything to support the co-operative movement during it’s various periods in power over the last 60 years, we’d all be better off.

They didn’t.

The modern Liberal Democrats are, like all the British parliamentary parties, a broad church coalition that contains traditional liberals, libertarians, radicals, liberal socialists (like me), geo-libertarians (like Jock, although I suspect the difference between us is semantics and presentation more than actual substance) and a large number of social democrats who abandoned the Labour party over the 80s and 90s as the failure it palpably is.

Do the Lib Dems as a whole party have ‘socialist credentials’? No, they don’t have them and specifically don’t want them. As a socialist within the party, I think that’s a Good Thing. With the current system of elections in Britain, they need to be a broad church, and trying to narrow the coalition would remove any chance they have of governance. But there are a large number of socialists, Socialists and Social Democrats within the coalition, and that is a very Good Thing.

I joined them as they’re the only hope we currently have of real change–if they get into power and get their current platform implemented, those of us on the left will be better off. And once we’ve got there, after that? The current three-party system exists because of the post-1947 electoral system. Change that system, then a new party structure will emerge. Until then, we have to work within what we have. That means our only choice is the Lib Dems.

How do they propose to narrow the gap between rich and poor (perhaps one of their number could tease out their tax proposals for me)?

OK, ignore the media froth, it’s bollocks. Very briefly as this comment has got far too long, the proposals are a revenue neutral shift to the green left. Close tax loopholes and for the wealthy (and there are many), put pigouvian taxes on environmentally damaging activities, use that to reduce the tax burden on the lowest paid. Clear redistributionary measure.

The additional new commitment agreed last week was that, if once we’ve reassigned money saved from Labour’s wasteful crap (like ID cards, bureacratic centralism in the NHS, several massive unwieldy databases, etc. ) on to Lib Dem priorities (localism, decentralisation, more effective policiing, rehabilitation and education schemes in prisons, etc) then (and only then) should any additional savings that could be made be used to reduce taxes further, with a clear emphasis on doing so from the bottom up, most likely by increasing the tax threshold to eventually remove those on the minimum wage from the tax system entirely.

Like all opposition parties, they’re stuck with dealing with the situation as is, not as we’d want it to be. Medium term, Vince has stated he would love to implement a proper Land Value Tax in order to tax the genuinely wealthy first and use that money to reduce other tax burdens and improve services, but that’ll be a medium term objective, 2nd or 3rd term in office, etc. Works for me.

Clegg has taken a clear shift in a genuinely Liberal direction, which is good. That it’s also very redistributionary and actually getting media coverage are also both good, even if the coverage is mostly written by tax-illiterate journalists unable to actually read what they’ve got put in front of them.

I’m happy with it, and with my party membership–they are, after all, our only current hope.

Paul,

You might have a point if Lembit wasn’t running for Party President and there wasnt a danger of his ‘colourful past’ overshadowing the politics…no doubt he is a talented politician…but party president….i think not I am afraid

MattGB,

Thanks.

So it’s a role for a fixer and a greaser.

Each candidate needs to outline exactly how they hope to improve the party mechanics, then. And how this will convert into success at the the ballot box.

Personally I think the Lib Dems have certain virtues, but at the end of the day they seem rather tragic. Often right on the issues, but always getting out-manoeuvred by smarter politics.

Aaron: “always getting out-manoeuvred by smarter politics” – always getting out-manoevred by the two parties with an inbuilt advantage and piles more money, you mean 😉

Darrell

Come on, since when did a “colourful past” disqualify anyone from holding the post of Lib Dem party president? The current president isn’t exactly spotless in that regard, is he?

26. Mike Killingworth

[16] If the Lib dems you’ve met are activists (which seems plausible) I’m happy to stand by my numbers. In an election of this type the activists (in any Party) tend to vote very differently from those whose connection is basically a direct debit.

[19][23] “Greaser” and “fixer” are not words that spring to mind in connection with Lembit Opik. The first item on the person spec would appear to be “demonstrable skills in keeping Chris Rennard in order” – best of luck!

[21] That’s certainly a policy direction which would lead me, and I suspect a few other people, to look again at the Lib Dems as an agent for bringing about what we want. However, I see no evidence that the current Party leadership is thinking along those lines.

Paul,

I never said it disqualified him; I said in my view it makes him wrong for the job which is of course something entirely different…he also has a bit of an ego…again something that makes him potentially unsuitable for this role….

Mike @26: “I see no evidence that the current Party leadership is thinking along those lines.” Then, with respect, you must be looking with your eyes closed.

“demonstrable skills in keeping Chris Rennard in order” – I have heard Ros say in person that this is something she plans to do if given the role. Of course, for it to be demonstrable she actually needs to be given the chance to do it. I don’t think she’d be afraid of putting the brakes on Clegg should the need arise either, though.

Mike

That’s certainly a policy direction which would lead me, and I suspect a few other people, to look again at the Lib Dems as an agent for bringing about what we want. However, I see no evidence that the current Party leadership is thinking along those lines.

Given that half of it is already party policy or witihin announced policy papers then you’re possibly not looking far enough? The other half (my liberal socialist pipedream) is completely unviable electorally within a first past the post voting system.

So get the system changed, then those within (and without) the party that want serious policies of that kind can actually promote them without scaring off the Duverger/Downs required central ground voters. There’s enough groundswell within the party for most of what I’ve suggested, but most of it is mid to long term stuff, not applicable before fixing the far more urgent stuff that’ll be in the next manifesto.

Heh, Jennie and I should stop posting comments at the same time from the other side of the same room…

Also, forgot to respond to your first point, which is a good one:

If the Lib dems you’ve met are activists (which seems plausible) I’m happy to stand by my numbers. In an election of this type the activists (in any Party) tend to vote very differently from those whose connection is basically a direct debit.

Turnout will be key—leadership elections get most of the armchair members involved, but the Presidency is likely to have a lower turnout (I have no numbers but this is what I’m told). In such a situation, the activists are far more likely to vote, and the armchair members are also likely to be swayed by the opinions of local campaigners.

Worth noting that there’s no guarantee that even the majority of activists around are backing Ros, but a large chunk of those local to me are, as were a large chunk of conference delegates, which is indicative of active members (who are also likely to want to persuade other local supporters as well).

Evening all,

Thanks to all for responses – especially Jennie and MatGB for clarification. This has been extremely useful. I think Clegg does the party no favours re: clarification – he was most offputting during his speech at party conference, what with all that yahooing around the stage like Jiminy Cricket. He was ridiculous. Party members on this thread are sold short by him.

@ Lee G: you say: ‘Kate, surely you’re better than falling in to traditional lines of argument whenever a subject comes up? Tax cuts are something to be taken extremely cautiously, I’d agree, but not every tax cut is at the expense of something that is vital to the nation.’

I’d agree with that: that’s precisely why I wanted clarification about the nature of the proposed Lib Dem tax cuts. Are we talking tax cuts for the hell of it, because that’s what politicians think the average dumb voter wants and wants to hear, or are we talking about a nuanced programme of cuts which target ridiculous programmes like Trident? It would appear from this thread that it’s the latter. I wonder why Clegg failed so utterly to make these distinctions clear?

@ thomas: ‘Kate, when you talk about ’socialist-minded leftie capitalism’ I don’t know what you mean – it sounds like you are someone who wants to be far-out and radical, but are actually quite nice, sane and sensible. Do you wear a tweed suit with dyed hair?’

Oh
My
God,
Thomas.
RUMBLED.

32. Mike Killingworth

[28][29] Well you may have the policies but you’re keeping darn quiet about them. And if you’re afraid of “scaring off” the “centre ground” voters you’re as useless as James Purnell. And no, I haven’t a clue which wing of your Party Sarah Teather and Stephen Williams, who I take it are the relevant shadow-shadow cabinet members, are on.

Here we are in the middle of the clearest demonstration of the limitations of market solutions for a generation (or a century, depending on who you believe) and people are still scared of putting forward the kind of pragmatic approach towards the role of markets I wrote about last week, for fear of the supposed conservatism of the voters. Well, if that’s so, we’re all wasting our time. But I don’t believe it and I don’t even think the majority of Lib Dem MPs believe it. But I can’t support a Party that is full of people who think “markets good, State bad” and appear to differ from the Tories only on the question of Europe.

There is no future for left-of-centre politics unless we are prepared to undertake a political education exercise. To hell with focus groups: we need a “hearts and minds” exercise. We’re looking at two terms of Tory government minimum and we need Ideas. Mind you, I agree that whatever the Lib Dems put in their next manifesto is neither here nor there.

Mike – I doubt whatever the Labour party puts in its next manifesto will be here or there either.

And we on the left do have Ideas – it’s just that the party we hoped would be the proponent of them has abandoned them. Those ideas include a trade union freedom bill, and an end to the privatisation of public services, protection of council housing, and market regulation, to name just a few. There’s no shortage of left or centre left ideas, but there is a definite shortage of courage when it comes to selling them.

How do you envisage the hearts and minds exercise operating, btw? That’s interesting.

Mike, we’re shouting as much as we can, but there appears to be a consensus among the media and the general public to put their fingers in their ears and go “lalalalalalala we’re not listening!” It’s not like what Mat and I have been saying hasn’t been out there on loads of websites and Focus leaflets for ages.

If you’ve any suggestions as to how to make the media give us airspace and the public not to switch off when they do, I’ll gladly hear them.

Well, the unfortunate truth is that the Lib Dems became less interesting to media and masses when they ditched the great Charles Kennedy. They also became slightly less human, in my view, simply because they ran out of sympathy for an alcoholic. True, Charlie’s ability to describe the party’s position on tax was no better than Clegg’s – he indeed set new standards for shambolic press conference – but he was certainly worth watching. Smaller centrist parties need charisma like Charlie’s up front – else they risk becoming, well, smaller. Without that sort of act, the distinguishing features become less easy to distinguish.

“And we on the left do have Ideas – it’s just that the party we hoped would be the proponent of them has abandoned them. Those ideas include a trade union freedom bill, and an end to the privatisation of public services, protection of council housing, and market regulation, to name just a few. There’s no shortage of left or centre left ideas, but there is a definite shortage of courage when it comes to selling them.”

You could argue that these are left wing ideas, but I’m pretty certain they’re not liberal left ideas. Freeing up the trade unions won’t help the poor per se, only the poor who happen to belong to a powerful trade union. When trade unions help their members they do so at the expense of the rest of society, including the non-unionised poor. Mutuals and co-operatives can be genuinely empowering without harming others, trade unions are a double-edged sword.

The creation of massive state-run public services killed off a large chunk of Britain’s co-operative movement. If done sensitively, privatisation could allow co-operatives and mutuals to return – thereby empowering people on lower incomes in a way that will always be impossible with the current monolith. The vital thing is to redistribute enough wealth to people to ensure that everyone can access decent services no matter what their income. I’d like to see all but a tiny proportion of council housing sold off and people being supported to buy their homes instead. There was nothing left wing about replacing feudal landlords with the council.

Market regulation, like regulation of peoples personal lives, should be minimal. The current difficulties have shown that in some ways the regulation of our system is less than the minimum required. I think we should be wary of imposing too much regulation by way of response. Also, just because some markets have too little regulation, that doesn’t mean that others don’t have too much (agriculture, for example).

If being left wing means that you’re concerned with bettering the lot of the people with the least in society then it seems to me that a liberal agenda offering massive redistribution of wealth and devolution of power is more left wing than a “socialist” agenda that only seeks to reverse a few decisions made over the past thirty years. I think the Lib Dems have been edging leftwards (particularly on tax) over the past few years, the only problem is that some people in Southern seats seem happy to describe our programme using vaguely rightish rhetoric thereby creating media confusion.

What does it mean to be a socialist nowadays, anyway?

38. Mike Killingworth

[38] That is a classic example of why I don’t trust the Lib Dems.

For a start, it’s really only people in Trade Unions who can get legal redress when employers flout the law, whether on employment, equal opps, health & safety or anything else. To suggest that any of those activities take place “at the expense of the rest of society” is just perverse.

Similarly, it’s a peculiar Anglo-American cultural presupposition that owner-occupation is the ideal form of housing tenure – it’s certainly not seen that way in continental Europe, which I suppose Andrew therefore regards as a backward illiberal culture. Perhaps Andrew thinks that combining the basic necessity of a roof over one’s head with irresponsible speculation is a requisite of freedom. It’s certainly a good way of securing disinvestment in the housing stock.

Go and work for Policy Exchange, Andrew – there’s no difference between you that I can see.

Ther is nothing illiberal about supporting trade unions – it was a nineteenth century liberal lady whose name I cannot remember who said something like “any attack on the trades unions is an attack on the free market” and in terms of freedom of association to achieve mutually agreed ends that is fine. There is certainly a perceived problem when unions act in a protectionist way, for example with the minimum/living wage campaign which I do not believe is the best or most liberal way of increasing the returns to labour.

On housing – I hear people saying very often that “it’s a peculiar Anglo-American cultural presupposition that owner-occupation is the ideal form of housing tenure – it’s certainly not seen that way in continental Europe”. Which I am afraid, though I used to believe that too, is just plain wrong if you look at the figures.

The country with the highest owner occupancy rate in Europe is in fact Romania (at around 95% I am told). But Ireland (80%+), Hungary (85%+), Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy and others are all above us in owner occupancy rates. Though personally, I believe that mutual housing is the most equitable way of “doing housing” rather than state housing. All subsidy put into housing is in fact a subsidy to landowners. And state housing involves the highest subsidy. Robbing taxpayers to pay landowners does not seem an especially socialist or liberal thing to be doing.

If the trade unions existed simply to ensure that their members have access to legal advice then there would be no problem. I don’t see why they would need more freedom in order to do what they’re doing already. When people talk about giving trade unions more freedom they’re talking about secondary picketing etc. which has nothing to do employers flouting the law. It’s to do with influencing wage levels and conditions. All I was arguing was that it would be better to redistribute wealth through the tax system than to allow trade unions to distort markets.

Helping people to build wealth through home ownership is surely more progressive than keeping them in rented accommodation. In the long run property is amongst the most secure investments you can make. Also, people can alter there own houses without having to ask the landlord’s permission.

Policy Exchange believe in cutting back wealth redistribution, which is the polar opposite of my position.

Housing “wealth” is not “real wealth”. The market in locations is a monopolistic market.

Otherwise, I agree with all of that about unions, as a UNISON member to boot!

Oops – that second link should be this.

Mike said:

That is a classic example of why I don’t trust the Lib Dems.

Because you can’t tell the difference between a broad church party and the ideas of one person, and seek to tar all with a spurious attack on the thoughts of one?

For a start, it’s really only people in Trade Unions who can get legal redress when employers flout the law, whether on employment, equal opps, health & safety or anything else. To suggest that any of those activities take place “at the expense of the rest of society” is just perverse.

If all that unions did was what you set out, then there would never have been a problem, but if you genuinely think that Bob Crowe taking the tube workers out on strike for reasons beyond the control of most Londoners (as an example) isn’t hurting the rest of society, then it’s you that’s being perverse.

Union militancy has done more damage to the left as a whole than any other single factor I can think of. This is a shame, as the ideals behind unions are laudable.

Similarly, it’s a peculiar Anglo-American cultural presupposition that owner-occupation is the ideal form of housing tenure – it’s certainly not seen that way in continental Europe, which I suppose Andrew therefore regards as a backward illiberal culture. Perhaps Andrew thinks that combining the basic necessity of a roof over one’s head with irresponsible speculation is a requisite of freedom. It’s certainly a good way of securing disinvestment in the housing stock.

Assume a huge amount from one line in a comment. You presume too much sir, and this sort of mudslinging does nothing for the debate. Different cultures have different approaches, allowing people to choose to own their own home is a perfectly acceptable choice. Ringfencing the money the councils receive from selling it and preventing them building a replacement isn’t.

Go and work for Policy Exchange, Andrew – there’s no difference between you that I can see.

Then take off the blinkers or go get an eye test, as you don’t seem to see things being pushed right in your face.

This comment brought to you by the ‘fight fire with fire’ school of thought, mature and reasoned debate also available for those that prefer not to throw insults and tell people to get lost whenever they can’t actually answer a point. FFS

44. Mike Killingworth

[44] I will go on being robust with anyone here who presents themselves as a market fetishist.

Just because an individual has an aptitude for sales or marketing doesn’t mean that those skills should be applauded – indeed, they’re not unlike soldiering: we can admire someone who’s good at it whilst deploring the necessity for the skill, and hoping it will be needed as little as possible.

My ethical objection to markets is that they turn relationships into transactions, they dehumanise us all – and that is before one gets to any other temptations. However, they have their uses. I think that – just like the State – they are a regrettable necessity. The only ethical form of society is prmitive communism, which has other drawbacks.

My ethical objection to markets is that they turn relationships into transactions, they dehumanise us all – and that is before one gets to any other temptations. ~ Mike Killingworth

You may think that’s rather profound, but all relationships are transactions.

The only ethical form of society is prmitive communism, which has other drawbacks.

Drawbacks? That’s one way of putting it.

There is absolutely nothing unethical about market economics. In practice what we suffer is crony-capitalism and a rabid consumerism that WE’ve allowed to replace the values that actually strengthen. If you argue that this is the natural “state” of capitalism, I might be tempted to suggest that the natural state of communism is Stalinism (and I would hate to have to go there).

The problem I have with far left economics is that it presumes that the individual is a moron. It presumes a learned elite knows best – and will always do so.

Mike, I fear your interpretation of ‘robust’ is brittle.

It is not to be a fetishist to accept markets do have an important, valid and helpful role to play, nor is it fetishist to attempt to reach a point of mutual understanding.

Unless you are prepared first to investigate the desired structure, formation and purpose of the type of market to be employed in any specific instance then you’ve outed yourself as an unreasonable bigot, and denied yourself any claim to knowing best.

If your ‘ethical’ objection is to be believed, this can only be because you fail to recognise that transactions are the productive means of relationships (and vice versa, because that’s how we produce a continuum). Please tell me how transactions can possibly dehumanise when human beings are produced through of heterogenous transactions (ie sexual intercourse)?

Exchange is a natural form of behaviour. ‘Markets’ are a means of understanding formalised and regularised systems of exchange by which we achieve the ends of improving exchanges and to virtuously achieve ever more productive ends.

Change the term if you wish, but the principle remains the same.

If you have a criticism of a specific category type or application of any market form that’s a different and perfectly acceptable matter, but they do indeed ‘have their uses’ and that isn’t to be regretted. It’s simply a matter of tailoring a perfect fit.

47. Mike Killingworth

[46][47] In posing an antithesis between relationships and transactions I am simply following Richard Sennett’s analysis in “The Culture of the New Capitalism”. I also agree with Robert Reich that our present economic system values only investors and consumers, not workers.

Thomas, if you think that sexual intercourse is necessarily transactional, I can only say that I, too, once suffered from extreme poverty in my inner life. Sennett is making a point in moral philosophy – that the good life is relational, the empty life transactional. Of course we all participate in both – what I want to see is the return of an ethical dimension to progressive politics (as an alternative to impossibilism, identity-group sterility and abject surrender) and to provide a touchstone by which we may judge the merit of various proposals.

If I could resist the repeated entreaties that I should join (including by a member of the Political Committee) from the British Communist Party in the 1970s and 1980s I am hardly likely to be an apologist for “state socialism” to-day. Communism was the trahison des clercs of an earlier generation: to-day’s equivalent is the belief that markets can be regulated or deregulated in some magical way to maximise human happiness. If happiness were simply a matter of consuming goods and services that might be so, but all the studies show that beyond a certain level more money brings very little increase in welfare. My GP responded to his 20% pay rise by cutting his hours by more than 20%.

I agree that in any plausibly reformed world, exchange will continue and with it markets. Nothing I have said denied that: it’s simply that I regard both markets and the State as being like fire, a good servant and a bad master.

So, what you actually want Mike is what social democracy has been trying to do for a sizeable amount of decades. Substantive reform will at least have to touch exchange and markets because leaving that untouched will undermine any other kind of reform. For example, you can create a NHS but while phamaceutical compaines remain under private ownership is it not the case that the self-same NHS finds itself subject to the normal laws of a market by proxy? Is it not the case that the NHS becomes unviable as a public enterprise?

Workers are valued under the current system to the extent that they consume. Thus it is perfectly plausible to offer them tax-breaks to enhance their ability to consume basically and any kind of reform that enhances this capability is not only plausible but often advocated by political parties. It is not a matter of ‘happiness’ but of sound economics that if the products produced cannot be consumed then then the system doesnt work and what was identified as a crisis of overproduction sharpens.

Is that not what we are in effect dealing with now?? A crisis of overconsumption in the financial sector; banks have made a qucik buck by offering generous credit which of course has been snapped up by people who are egar to consume. However, so much of it exists and has caused this crisis and left the economy in what in psychological terms is called a double-bind ie, a lose-lose situation. The banks can no longer offer the credit and people can no longer afford to repay; thus the banks go bust and the people that took on the debt fall along with them.

49. Mike Killingworth

[49] It is of course ironic that this crisis appears to be rooted in an ideological decision that everyone, no matter how poor, should be encouraged into owner-occupation – I agree with your analysis as far as it goes.

As to your view that consumption is an end in itself, I despair. It’s a means to an end – if economics had nothing to do with or say about happiness why did the sub-discipline of welfare economics get started in the first place? And I certainly don’t want to live in a society in which people only go to work in order to get money to spend – I want full lives, not half-lives. Again, Sennett’s concept of “craftsmanship” (I’m sure he doesn’t mean to be sexist!) applies here.

To return to the Lib Dems for a moment (who this thread was orginially about!) their analysis certainly attracts me to the extent that, as good Ricardians, they recognise three factors of production and wish to tax land in the interests of labour and entrepreneurship. Unfortunately for them most people aren’t Ricardians, but follow the neo-classicals (or indeed Marx) in subsuming land into capital as a factor of production. This suggests to me that they are either poor social psychologists, or else need to run a major “hearts and minds” campaign on the subject. At the moment they just pass conference resolutions to make themselves feel better.

The “hearts and minds” on that are not even won everywhere within the party itself! And certainly not to the extent that many would regard themselves as Ricardian. Or understand taxing economic land as anything other than a different base for tax rather than a basis for creating a more naturally equitable political economy.

Although, sharing a platform with Vince Cable at Liverpool in spring, it was clear that he at least understands the arguments, and now wants practical ways he/we can make policy out of them.

Wait for next year I say – the centenary of the land tax budget of 1909!

[50] This has turned into quite an interesting thread considering it started out as being about who the next Lib Dem president would be (not even that interesting to Lib Dems!).

I think it’s a bit misleading to describe the current crisis as deriving from an ideological predilection for owner occupation. The crisis was caused by lenders choosing to take on too much risk, which was a poor business decision on their part. With appropriate state support for Homestake schemes and mutual housing schemes like Jock’s we could expand owner-occupation in a sustainable way. Using NINJA mortgages wasn’t sustainable, but it also wasn’t a deliberate attempt on the part of government to expand owner-occupation. All the government did wrong was to fail to rein in mortgage lenders because everyone was happily making money. Vince Cable knew better.

Why can’t consumption be an end in itself? I think it should be up to each individual to choose their own ends. I don’t think I’m in a position to prove that one end is superior to another for anyone except myself. Is it really implausible to suggest that someone could derive more satisfaction from living in a big house and driving a Ferrari than from living in a commune with some hippies and a goat? Do politicians need a general concept of the good life? Surely such a concept is just a limit on our being liberal and tolerant?

Just a small but important correction there Andrew…

Let’s not just blame the banks for this. Eddie George made clear that it was policy that, aside from targetting inflation, the Bank was to ensure that property prices kept on rising in order that we could keep on spending so that we might avoid the domino effect of US recession in the early naughties reaching our shores. He even said that they knew they were storing up trouble but that that was the job he left for his successors to sort out.

The policy makers wanted it that way. Gordon Brown’s “age of irresponsibility” can be traced back to much closer to our political “masters of the universe” than they will want us to believe.

Longer term, it can of course be traced back to two men and the global banking families that own the Fed and started this bubble with the overindulgence in debt money seventy years ago – but the politicians still had to agree to that deception even back then. And so long as one of those men’s companies, John Pierpoint Morgan Jnr, survives, our latest crop of political retirees will still be quids in.

Pigs, troughs and screw the proles.

On the other hand, wouldn’t it be sweet to see the headline that a Mr Anthony Blair had been fired by JPM for gross misconduct…:)

54. Mike Killingworth

[52] Andrew wrote I think it should be up to each individual to choose their own ends. I don’t think I’m in a position to prove that one end is superior to another for anyone except myself. Oh, really? If you met a fellow who bragged of the pleasure he took in hurting women you wouldn’t feel yourself in a position to disapprove of him? I don’t believe you.

Society has every right to signal, through the State, that some individual choices are wrong because of the consequences they have. By your logic, we’d close down all the drug rehabs – again, I don’t believe you want that either.

Andrew,

“Why can’t consumption be an end in itself?”

Look around you at what is happening to economy and you have a pretty decent answer there I think.

The current situation, however, is not about consumption per se (which is of course an end, though hopefully not *the* end, in itself so long as we have to eat to live) but about how we fund that.

All the current situation does is prove the maxim that crime doesn’t pay. In this case, it’s the fraud that has pervaded our financial system for a *long* time to the benefit of the few and the detriment, even destruction of the many.

And, just as with the Kray twins, it shows that it’s the wee man, not the crime boss, that usually gets knee-capped.

[55]Society has every right to signal, through the State, that some individual choices are wrong because of the consequences they have. By your logic, we’d close down all the drug rehabs – again, I don’t believe you want that either

I think that’s a particularly bad example, because the “signals” the state (and often *not* society at large) sends in the case of drugs, cause more problems than the consequences of individuals’ choices. As seems often to be the case.

Herbert Spencer’s liberal logic, of the survival of the fittest rather than the infantilization of all, was impeccable, if unpalatable when taken to some of his extremes.

Mike, pointless straw men like this:

If you met a fellow who bragged of the pleasure he took in hurting women you wouldn’t feel yourself in a position to disapprove of him?

make you look like an imbecilic arsehole who can’t even be bothered to engage.

The liberal Harm Principle applies. Do us all a favour and engage with what’s said rather than pointless ad hominem bollocks?

[55] What has my disapproval got to do with whether or not the state should regulate someone else’s activities? The reason, from my point of view, why the man in your example should be prevented from hurting women is that the state should maximise their freedom as well as his. My personal moral views are irrelevant. What we need is a state that provides the maximum benefit for the maximum number of people.

People should be free to take drugs, providing they’re consenting adults. Drug addicts who want to quit should be given help by the state if they require it.

[51] Jock, I think you should submit an article on LVT to this site. I have to admit that I’ve tended to regard it simply as a different base for taxation, albeit with a few positive side-effects, rather than a means of revolutionising society. Was Lloyd George’s Land tax not unsuccessful?

Mat GB,

So, are you saying that Labour’s program next time will be identical to the Conservatives one?? That was the only point I was rasing here that it is wrong to pursue the ‘there is no difference’ line…

Darrell, assuming you mean my comment on the other thread, no, obviously not. But I’m of the opinion you can’t have “social justice” without freedom and democracy. Labour is undermining the former and has damaged the latter, the Tories are at least (currently) better than Labour on the former and are consistent on the latter.

Neither party is good. But on the issues that I think are most important, for a short term time, given a choice the Tories are less bad. My ideal would be 100+ Lib Dem MPs standing firm and repealing Labour’s bollocks but not propping up an illiberal bunch of Tories. But in a less than ideal world, Labour need time to retrench and smell the coffee.

If they hadn’t broken their ’97 promise to reform the system of government properly, we wouldn’t even need to have this conversation.

[61]Was Lloyd George’s Land tax not unsuccessful?

Indeed. But not for want of popular support. It fell at the hands of the vested interests and privilege in the House of Lords. The Land Tax is the reason we had the Parliament Act 1911 and two General Elections in 1910. But it was ultimately sacrificed to get the rest of the budget through before the House of Lords could be artially castrated.

Jesus, Mat – did you just say you thought the Tories were less bad?

What’ll they do to public services? They’ll outsource everything to the kind of people who’ve been raping us in the city for the last ten years and we’ll get to the point where you can’t get an education or an operation without opening yr chequebook very, very wide…

We’ve got ample evidence of what the Tories are like – let’s have a look at the havoc the’ve wreaked in newly-Conservative councils like Hammersmith and Fulham in the last two years for a moment, shall we? Scuse the self-promotion, but I did a whole series of articles and interviews in that borough last year:

http://hangbitch.com/node/78

about their viciousness towards the voluntary sector and people who need help and support most. I’m agog at yr observation that they’re better on democracy – you only need to look at Hammersmith and Fulham to understand that sentence of yours should read ‘they’re better on democracy… as long as you’re well off and white.’

Please. It’s only socially useful being better at democracy if you’re a government in charge of a democracy in which everyone has a chance of participating, regardless of their race, financial background, etc… the Tories will create a ‘democracy’ in which you’ll need to be very well heeled to survive, let alone take part. Your comment above suggests to me that the Lib Dems will create that kind of democracy as well. I thought more of you until now.

You can bang on all you like about romantic notions of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ but the facts are that you need some legislation and public services in place to make sure everyone gets to enjoy those lofty notions for real. It’s not about creating a bigger state – it’s about setting standards. The Tories are about paying staff as little as possible, and delivering as little as possible for the masses on the cheap. There’s plenty of evidence that they’re at least as bad as Labour, and probably worse.

I THOUGHT MORE OF YOU.

Blast.

No Kate, I didn’t. I said (in the other thread where Darrell aske d aquestion meant for this one:

on the issues that I think are most important, for a short term time, given a choice the Tories are less bad

Note the emphasis there, it was deliberate,

If we have to choose between the current Labour government and a Tory government, and that’s the only choice we have (which is a falsitude that the Labour party seek to perpetuate), then we need to get Labour out in order they can sort themselves out. One term of Tories, especially given their promises on spending commitments, will damage people but not irrevocably.

But it’s a choice I reject as false. I want MPs committed to changing the system and sorting out long term problems. In order to get that we need electoral reform and political freedom. The Lib Dems are the only party committed to both, but on those issues Labour has broken its promises (whereas the Tories are honest in saying they oppose, albeit for spurious reasons), and the Tories, being in opposition and thus seeing the damage it causes, are Better than the current government on issues of political freedom.

yes, they mostly want freedom for the white middle class shires, but I want freedom for all. That’s why I’m a Lib Dem, and oppose the system that gives absolute power to any party.

I want as many Lib Dem MPs in the house as possible in order to stop the worst excesses of both the idiot parties, and maybe be able to work with reformers to sort the genuine problems out, while stopping the stupidity.

I grew up under the Tories, live in a Tory town now (where we’re a strong second) and my old home town has one of the best MPs in the house on all the issues I care about, so I’ll be helping him when I can at the next GE as well.

Neither of the idiot parties is any good, that’s the whole point of this thread, but constantly demonising the Tories plays into the hands of the other idiots. The Lib Dems are, under the current electoral system, the only choice we’ve got, and it really bothers me that so many people just can’t see it.

Get a better electoral system and all bets are off.

To all: Support detention without charge, ID cards, SOCPA and surveillance databases, or oppose it. If you don’t think ID cards aimed at demonising migrants are something worth going to the wall for then voting Labour and thus supporting them is your choice.

But if you want to support that sort of policy, stop calling yourself a liberal.

‘Neither of the idiot parties is any good, that’s the whole point of this thread, but constantly demonising the Tories plays into the hands of the other idiots. The Lib Dems are, under the current electoral system, the only choice we’ve got, and it really bothers me that so many people just can’t see it.’

Point is, Mat – I’m not demonising the Tories on my blog per se – I’m just going out to Tory councils and talking to people about their actions there, and reporting back. That reporting of the facts demonises the Tories, because the facts of their actions are just – well, demonic.

The problem I’m having with the Lib Dems as above is that I’m hearing a lot of talk about freedom and democracy – which is good – but bugger-all about the ways that you’re going to ensure everybody has adequate access to both. A fairer – read more distributive – tax system is probably part of the answer, but I fail to see how you’re going to guarantee decent schooling and healthcare for all – and how you’re going to control the excess that comes at the expense of others – without legislating. Every time someone like me mentions legislating, I’m howled down for suggesting a bigger state, or bigger government. If you don’t legislate in favour of decent wages, against outsourcing, in favour of trade union freedoms so that the low-paid have at least some means of protecting themselves – how do you ensure that the less well off have opportunities and have some protection from capitalism’s excesses?

I think we should try and scrap the big v small state debate and start to try and think of it in terms of the neccessary state. All the things you mention seem neccessary to me Kate but I think where problems are rightly had are with things like ID cards which are clearly not neccessary and are clearly an attack on civil liberties. I agree that the rights of trade unions needs to be protected; that the state can do that but I dont see how this should extend into silence when it comes to the attack of the state against the citizen.

There is also the issue that socialists have traditionally come to see the state as the solution be that in it’s more leftist Marxist guises or even in it’s social democratic incarnation. Here there is scope for legitimate improval on the part of socialism and it is here that I find myself on more common ground with liberalism. We all accept that the state is neccessary in some form but really is it the solution to all our ills??

It is there purely for when people cant be; I am for example, in favour of devolving control of things like healthcare down to the actual service users as far as is possible and practicable. As long as it is not a backdoor for the opening up of the NHS to the market I see it more as an extension of democracy and thus something that can be supported from a progressive point of view.

[67] Kate, of course you need to have legislation in place in order to ensure everyone has access to decent healthcare and education and that the poor are protected from their employers. All I was suggesting was that it’s better to redistribute wealth via the tax system than to give trade unions more power and allow them to redistribute wealth patchily, unfairly and with a negative distorting effect on the market. Redistribution gives people the means to pursue opportunities. We also need to ensure that they have the maximum number of opportunities available to them. The two things together constitute freedom.

You can pick out instances where outsourcing has had a negative effect on services (e.g. cleaning services where the new private provider slashed costs by cutting wages leading to reduced standards), but this tends to reflect the standards of the private industry. Where the private providers are providing a good service at a competitive price outsourcing can work well. The private cleaning industry can be quite a nasty cut throat place, the private printing industry generally isn’t. As you’ve pointed out it’s important to set standards. Also, wherever there can be a competitive market there should be a competitive market. Services should be privatised whenever this will increase competition. Otherwise, I think we should take a pragmatic approach to outsourcing services.

The problem with the state monopolising the provision of services is that it restricts choice. Without choices and the means to pursue them you’re not free.

On health and education…

“The third principle is that social security must be achieved by co-operation between the State and the individual. The State should offer security for service and contribution. The State in organising security should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility ; in establishing a national minimum, it should leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family. ”

SOCIAL INSURANCE AND ALLIED SERVICES
REPORT BY SIR WILLIAM BEVERIDGE

Mike Killingworth predicts @13
Opik 55%, Scott 35%, Fernando 10%

Ros Scott: 20,736 votes (72%)
Lembit Opik: 6247 votes (22%)
Chandila Fernando 1799 votes (6%)

*feels smug*

71. Mike Killingworth

I’m very happy to be proved wrong. I wish her well.


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