The Orange Liberal resurgance

My old colleague Brian Crowe has a look this week at the Liberal Democrat leadership race. He remarks that be it Huhne or Clegg, the next leader of the Liberal Party will take it much closer to its classical liberal roots.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    I think the last thing Britain needs is another party espousing economic liberalism of the Orange Book variety. The Liberal Democrats should seize that vast open space to the soft left of Labour and pick up all of those voters tired of the privitisations, centralisations and trampled civil liberties that have become a hallmark of New Labour. They had their best election ever when they opposed Iraq, student fees and wanted a more equitable tax regime so they should remember that before becoming Tory-lite. However, that all-important ‘Middle England’ vote must not be ignored, sadly, so they should throw in something appealing for the middle-class too. It’s all about the balance.
    The paradox about the Liberal Democrats is how they stride that gap between social democracy and classical liberalism and people pick the one that appeals and ignore the other. That’s why I would be wary of voting for them. Tory voters in the south of England see them as an antidote to Labour centralisation and statism when the Tories appear useless, those in the north of England who are sick of the Labour Party they traditionally supported vote for them because they are the only other party they could conceivably consider voting for. As opinion polls have show recently the ‘core’ Lib Dem vote appears rather small.
    Huhne seems to be seizing the social liberal end by distancing himself from the Orange Book and by stressing the fairness and green agendas, I think that is quite positive. I am wary of Clegg, seems like a liberal Tory to me.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    I think too that Brian Crowe is being disingenuous over why the Lib Dems dropped in the polls. It seems clear to me that it was a combination of people thinking Ming was too old and Cameron making a successful conference speech which gained him floating voters at the Lid Dem’s expense. They are getting squeezed between two resurgent main parties and they had poor leadership, being centre-left has nothing to do with it because I doubt anyone even knows what the Lid Dem policies are.

  • Ballygobackwards

    The Liberals have costed for years on the (relatively) piss poor performance of the Conservatives, now the Tories have finally put their house in order they were always going to be squezzed. The natural levelof support for the Limp Dems is approimately 17-18%. They benefiteed in 1997 from a huge anti-Tory tactical vote and those people saw no need to return to the Tories over the intervening ten years. I predict that despite who leads them they will probably return about 30-35 MP’s at the next election. Given were they were heading under the Minger 35 seats could probably be spun as a success for whoever leads them.

  • IJP

    It may seem churlish to point out that neither Huhne nor Clegg will lead the “Liberal Party”, but it’s actually quite important.

    The (Social and) Liberal Democrats have, as Brian rightly indicates, revelled in their left-wing stance. Problem is, the population’s not as left wing as it thinks!

  • Ballygobackwards
    “the Tories have finally put their house in order”
    Are you sure about that?
    Their loss of support in places such as Scotland may well be permanent and in the south of England the new Liberal Democrat leader may be able to rally enough of the vote to limit any Tory comeback.