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Old 04-14-2019, 06:04 AM
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UK Politics : "The Lib Dems are a spent force". If true, why ?


In the Brexit thread, Oswald Bastable made the above remark, which I've quoted almost verbatim.

I'm not denying this analysis, looking at the most recent polls it even seems perfectly arguable, but I can't help wondering why. I think that for the longest time, they were a solid third party, never able to win national elections yet strong enough to make their voices heard. Did their ill-advised coalition with Cameron do them in ?

Not being a Brit, I would never been allowed to vote in the UK, but I must admit that the Lib Dems always had my sympathy, partly as dark horses but more importantly with regards their position on the EU. The Tories, not so much. Needless to say, I have only contempt for UKIP and the Emperor's-New-Clothes-Brexit Party.
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Old 04-14-2019, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Les Espaces Du Sommeil View Post
Not being a Brit, I would never been allowed to vote in the UK, but I must admit that the Lib Dems always had my sympathy, partly as dark horses but more importantly with regards their position on the EU.
I am in almost your exact position, and I also wonder if there has been any polls of Lib Dem popularity recently. If there has, and their popularity has not improved in the wake of the ongoing Brexit fiasco, I'd think that that would be solid evidence that they will not regain any strength, since if anything could help them, it would be the Brexit circus.
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Old 04-14-2019, 10:22 AM
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The problem for the Lib Dems is that the First Past the Post system we have encourages political polarisation, just like America. As the middle party, they get squeezed out. That Brexit has not helped their cause is more down to the left-wing anti-Brexit press organisations like the Guardian being pro-Labour. The Lib Dems scarcely get any visibility.
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Old 04-14-2019, 01:08 PM
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Well, is there even a newspaper that's pro-Lib Dem ?
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Old 04-14-2019, 02:01 PM
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Well, is there even a newspaper that's pro-Lib Dem ?
The Guardian has recommended voting for them in the past, but these days? I don't know.
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Old 04-14-2019, 02:04 PM
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The problem for the Lib Dems is that the First Past the Post system we have encourages political polarisation, just like America. As the middle party, they get squeezed out.

Yet another myth about First-past-the-post.

In Canada, we have First/past-the-post and at the federal level it's the centrist Liberals which benefit. They are the dominant party, with the longest track record for forming governments. The right-wing Conservatives are the main other party and have formed governments. The lefty socialist party is the third party that is marginalised and has never been in power.

FPTP has an effect on voting and elections, yes, but the influence is a lot more nuanced than is often stated with such confidence on these boards.
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:02 PM
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If the LibDems are the only ones that truly oppose Brexit, compared to the muddled positions of Labour and the Conservatives, doesn't that give them a clear position in the election? Not saying it will revitalize them to major party status, but I would think it might attract strong Remain voters.

Last edited by Northern Piper; 04-14-2019 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:18 PM
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The 2010 coalition killed the Lib Dems along with the rise of the SNP. Being the 3rd largest party at least gets you two questions at PMQs. I’m sure there will be some sort of merger between the Lib Dems and the Independent Group.
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:25 PM
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If the LibDems are the only ones that truly oppose Brexit, compared to the muddled positions of Labour and the Conservatives, doesn't that give them a clear position in the election?
That was also true in 2017, and it got them diddly squat. Remain areas swung more toward Labour than the Lib Dems.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 04-14-2019 at 11:28 PM.
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:59 PM
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True. I'm just wondering if the dilly-dallying by Labour over Brexit for the past two years may have clarified positions on Leave/Remain to the point that a solidly Remain party may now do better at the polls.
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Old 05-03-2019, 03:35 AM
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Perhaps not quite spent yet.

Quote:
The Tories have lost nearly 450 seats and 18 English councils so far, many of them to a resurgent Liberal Democrats.

...

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the results so far suggested both of the two main parties are being punished for their handling of Brexit, with the Liberal Democrats, Green Party and independents benefitting from their losses.

...

The Liberal Democrats have gained eight councils - including Winchester, North Norfolk, Cotswold and Bath and North East Somerset
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Old 05-03-2019, 06:59 AM
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As of the latest report, Lib-Dems have gained 342 council seats, while independents have gained 243. Supposedly the leading third party, the Lib Dems have only gained 52% of the available seats from a protest vote that rejected the two main parties and UKIP. That's not a resurgence.
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Old 05-03-2019, 07:42 AM
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Is there a good unbiased summary somewhere that explains the policy differences among the UK parties? For example, what is the difference between LibDem and Labour? How many parties actually have seats in Parliament? Some parties are apparently for laughs, like the Raving Monster Loony Party -or are they serious?
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Wrenching Spanners View Post
As of the latest report, Lib-Dems have gained 342 council seats, while independents have gained 243. Supposedly the leading third party, the Lib Dems have only gained 52% of the available seats from a protest vote that rejected the two main parties and UKIP. That's not a resurgence.
Perhaps not.

But on the other hand, reports of their demise may have been somewhat exaggerated.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:44 AM
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Yet another myth about First-past-the-post.

In Canada, we have First/past-the-post and at the federal level it's the centrist Liberals which benefit. They are the dominant party, with the longest track record for forming governments. The right-wing Conservatives are the main other party and have formed governments. The lefty socialist party is the third party that is marginalised and has never been in power.

FPTP has an effect on voting and elections, yes, but the influence is a lot more nuanced than is often stated with such confidence on these boards.
It does squeeze the third party out, though, which is what he said - albeit not due to political polarisation, it tends to centralise things like you say. Are there fptp systems anywhere in the world that routinely split the vote 3 or 4 ways?

Proportional representation has been a mission statement of lib dems since they were founded, so they absolutely value voting reform. They had a sort of shot at it in the Cameron coalition but the bill was a complete failure IIRC - I'd need to refresh my memory on what exactly happened but it got no momentum, wasn't pitched to the electorate adequately, had no serious political will behind it as the Tories weren't arsed with it.

The Liberal party was a reasonably serious outfit back in the 70s, so this supplied a generation of Lib Dem MPs who were at least credible parliamentarians. This seems to have been exhausted the last few years, so they've had personel problems with some extremely ordinary leaders. Not that the other parties are much different in this regard, but when you've only got 15 or so MPs the talent vacuum really bites.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:59 AM
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The Lib Dems were on the rise in 2010, but their ill-advised coalition with the Conservatives - in which the Conservatives gave them nothing but a half-arsed referendum on changing the voting system and in return managed to force the Lib Dems to break pretty much every election promise they had made and to take the blame for the worst excesses of the Conservatives - absolutely obliterated their credibility among their base.

On top of that they engaged in a fair amount of circular firing squad behaviour and own-goals - consider Tim Farron's weird waffling about LGBT rights and faith healing. As a result, they have a long, long way to go to come back from their mistakes. Personally I'd love for them to be a viable party and there's a definite political niche they could fill, but they do seem to be their own worst enemies.
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Old 05-03-2019, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Wrenching Spanners View Post
As of the latest report, Lib-Dems have gained 342 council seats, while independents have gained 243. Supposedly the leading third party, the Lib Dems have only gained 52% of the available seats from a protest vote that rejected the two main parties and UKIP. That's not a resurgence.
I think that's mainly bad news for the Lib Dem leadership because it does mean they aren't having much success without an alliance or merger, but for the rank and file anti-Brexiters it means their chances would increase if such a coalition does come about.
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Old 05-03-2019, 09:15 AM
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Is there a good unbiased summary somewhere that explains the policy differences among the UK parties? For example, what is the difference between LibDem and Labour? How many parties actually have seats in Parliament? Some parties are apparently for laughs, like the Raving Monster Loony Party -or are they serious?


For current standings in the House of Commons, see the wiki page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_...United_Kingdom
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Old 05-03-2019, 09:23 AM
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Is there a good unbiased summary somewhere that explains the policy differences among the UK parties? For example, what is the difference between LibDem and Labour? How many parties actually have seats in Parliament? Some parties are apparently for laughs, like the Raving Monster Loony Party -or are they serious?


I’d suggest checking out politicshome.

https://www.politicshome.com

I’m American, but I find it a fairly unbiased site. BBC radio 4 also has a non biased podcast called Today in Parliament which is pretty interesting.
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Old 05-03-2019, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Wrenching Spanners View Post
As of the latest report, Lib-Dems have gained 342 council seats, while independents have gained 243. Supposedly the leading third party, the Lib Dems have only gained 52% of the available seats from a protest vote that rejected the two main parties and UKIP. That's not a resurgence.
It seems that local Lib Dem organisations made agreements with their Green counterparts not to stand against each other. Both parties also seem not to have put up candidates in areas with strong independent groups with similar policies and a better chance of beating the big two (and UKIP). This certainly seems to have been the case where I live - there were no Lib Dem or Green candidates on the two ballots I posted, and the independents have absolutely kicked the shit out of the Tory incumbents, taking them from overwhelming dominance to the slimmest of majorities on the council.
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Old 05-03-2019, 12:21 PM
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Looking more closely at the full breakdown of results locally, they are even worse for the Tories than they look on the surface. They lost nearly every seat where there was any opponent not from Labour or UKIP.

If, next time out, the Lib Dems, Greens and independents could coordinate to put up candidates on the ballots that only had Tory/Labour (or Tory/Labour/UKIP) this time around, they could conceivably wipe out the Tories as any kind of force around here. And this is an area that has been almost pure blue for as long as anyone can remember.

Last edited by Mrs McGinty; 05-03-2019 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 05-03-2019, 12:26 PM
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It seems that local Lib Dem organisations made agreements with their Green counterparts not to stand against each other. Both parties also seem not to have put up candidates in areas with strong independent groups with similar policies and a better chance of beating the big two (and UKIP). This certainly seems to have been the case where I live - there were no Lib Dem or Green candidates on the two ballots I posted, and the independents have absolutely kicked the shit out of the Tory incumbents, taking them from overwhelming dominance to the slimmest of majorities on the council.
Thanks for letting us know that. I'd heard there was an attempt at a Remain coalition for the EU Parliament elections which failed, but hadn't heard any such thing about the local elections. It certainly does put a different spin on my analysis, which should now be taken with a huge chunk of salt.
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Old 05-03-2019, 12:42 PM
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Yeah, this may very well not translate to national-scale electoral politics, but there is a definite sense that local groups are coalescing around their mutual loathing of the big two and their century-long stitch-up of British politics. With the leadership of both parties being manifestly incompetent, and the atmosphere of each increasingly dominated by narrowly ideological bigots, there is definitely an opening for a broader pragmatic coalition, and that would surely need the Lib Dems at its core. Whether the national leadership is up to the task, I'm not sure.
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Old 05-09-2019, 04:43 PM
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For the upcoming European elections, the Lib Dems have titled their manifesto "Bollocks to Brexit".

I guess it's too much to hope that the contents include sub-headings such as "Fuck Farage", "Tory Tossers", and "Cock Off Corbyn".

Nevertheless, it's encouragingly forthright. They certainly can't be accused of fence-sitting on this one.
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