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Liberal Democrats-Why do you exist? Watch

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    Seriously, the Lib Dems are the most pointless political party in the UK. They've no identifiable leaning economically (party's split between centre-left Blairites and centrist do nothingers) and socially everything they stand for aren't contentious issues in British politics anymore (e.g. abortion rights, death penalty etc). Even the one single issue that they could make ground on, Brexit, hasn't yielded the votes expected. Brexit in the form of leaving the single market and customs union is a political reality that both major parties either implicitly or explicitly support. What's the point of the Lib Dems?
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    Whilst you may think the Monster raving Loony Party has more relevance, the Lib Dems exist because people have joined them and others vote for them.

    Though they don't have policies such as the 99p coin.
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    Because ultimately you can still be a moderate, reasonable person and not want to swallow wholesale whatever the two main parties throw at you at each election. I think the Lib Dems are actually a very useful thing: they give a scope for a good old fashioned protest vote when you're absolutely sick of what the party you usually support is going at any given point, without having to go entirely over to the other side.
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    To make students sad.
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    I've always voted Lib Dem. The Tories are in it for themselves. Labour are full of self serving unionists. The Lib Dems in coalition with the Tories are the first party that have ever influenced my life in a positive manner. Our eldest son has benefited from free school meals and we have benefited from increased tax threshold (Lib Dem policy) and tax free savings (Lib Dem policy). The irony of the last couple of elections is that everyone has been baying for some form of proportional representation. The Lib Dems are the only party that actually got as far as holding a referendum on the issue. Oh - and they are unapologetically pro European.

    There are a centrist, left leaning party and tend to steer clear of the ya-bo establishment politics that the Red and the Blues seem to revel in.
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    For the sake of the cause of liberalism.
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    They exist because thankfully we live in a democracy where there is freedom of association and pluralism. What is the problem, with a political party existing? Don;t like it, don't vote for it.
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    It should split with the moderate Tories and Labour party members and create a Christian democratic party. One of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism. However, appetite for this is abysmal amongst member of Parliament.
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    (Original post by ByEeek)
    I've always voted Lib Dem. The Tories are in it for themselves. Labour are full of self serving unionists. The Lib Dems in coalition with the Tories are the first party that have ever influenced my life in a positive manner. Our eldest son has benefited from free school meals and we have benefited from increased tax threshold (Lib Dem policy) and tax free savings (Lib Dem policy). The irony of the last couple of elections is that everyone has been baying for some form of proportional representation. The Lib Dems are the only party that actually got as far as holding a referendum on the issue. Oh - and they are unapologetically pro European.

    There are a centrist, left leaning party and tend to steer clear of the ya-bo establishment politics that the Red and the Blues seem to revel in.
    Additionally, they're the only major party against the Snooper's Charter, and they blocked it when they were in coalition, supporting individual privacy.
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    The Lib Dems are in a strange position in that they put forward a portfolio of views that are probably quite popular with a large section of the electorate: centrist, pro-European, but they are currently struggling electorally. I expect a lot of the students, centre-left liberal middle classes that have jumped on Corbyn's bandwagon secretly wish he was fighting for a second referendum and challenging Brexit and maybe some find his economic policies too radical. But they are on board with him for his authenticity and challenge of the Tories, where they see the Lib Dems as being ineffective.

    Next election they may find things even tougher, as the advance of Labour means they don't have as many seats where they can benefit from tactical voting by being in second place. Labour now has a huge bank of 'target seats' for the next election where they can overhaul Tories, whereas the Lib Dems list of realistic targets is much smaller: although a fall in the Tory vote would still bring another 10 or so seats within their grasp and getting their MP numbers back in to the 20s would be decent progress.

    In a historical context, the Lib Dems (or Liberals) have been in similar positions before and come back, and just missed some opportunities that might have otherwise changed their fortunes. In 2017 they got 12 seats and 7.4% of the vote, which is similar to where they were for most of the post war years up till the 1980s. In the 1980s, when Labour split and the SDP formed as a centre left party out of Labour, they joined with the Liberals as the SDP-Liberal Alliance and suddenly had a large support base that threatened to alter the balance of politics. But the first-past-the-post system went against them, so when they were polling 23 - 25% in the 1980s they were returning 22/23 MPs and just splitting the opposition to Thatcher enabling her to have 100+ majorities from a similar vote share to that which Theresa May got in 2017!

    After the Alliance broke up and the Lib Dems were at a low ebb in the late 1980s, Paddy Ashdown actually did a very good job as leader - back then people were asking the same kind of questions as now "what is the point of the Lib Dems" and he soon had them winning some stunning by election upsets where massive Tory majorities got overturned and it really put the skids under the Tories.

    The Lib Dems' big opportunity was to get electoral reform so they had a proportional representation system which would potentially have put them in permanent government with one of the other two parties. After suffering repeated defeats to the Tories, Labour were cowed and desperate in the early 1990s and there was a movement within Labour to look to try and join closer to the Lib Dems as a way of getting the Tories out, and Ashdown would have pushed for PR as the price of a coalition. The 1992 election was predicted to be a hung parliament and that would have been the Lib Dems' moment, but the Tories got a surprise win, and then by the time 1997 came round, the country was in love with Blair and Labour rediscovered their self confidence and did not need to bother with PR or the Lib Dems.

    Nevertheless this was a time of great advance in Parliament for the Lib Dems, they went from 20 MPs in 1992, to 46 in 1997, 52 in 2001, 62 in 2005 and 57 in 2010. During these years they were taking advantage of a general weakness of the Tories and were taking traditional Tory seats that the Tories won back on a large scale in 2015 when they knocked the Lib Dems back to 8. They also benefited from the youth vote and students, because Charles Kennedy was the one leader who stood up against the Iraq War, and because of their general progressive policies (they were to the left of Labour in those days) and opposition to tuition fees.

    2010 was their watershed moment. Had the parliamentary arithmetic been a bit different with Labour as the largest party they could have gone into the centre-left coalition they always wanted and been able to moderate and exert influence on Gordon Brown. As it happened Clegg joined with the Tories, failed to get a proper push for PR (instead going for a referendum on AV which nobody was really interested in at that point), surrendered on tuition fees (against the will of the party), and having fought a campaign to the left of Labour, was then involved in a government pushing through right-wing regressive policies. The Lib Dems found themselves trotting out the mantras about austerity which just made them look not credible, if they believed in austerity so much why had they not campaigned for it? So that lost them a lot of credibility and their natural support base has now locked on Corbyn.

    I think it will be a long route back however there is a glimmer...if the Tories make a shambles of Brexit and their vote collapses, and there starts to be more pressure on Corbyn over Brexit, the centre-left Remainers will start to drift back towards the Lib Dems, and they might start climbing slowly back at least to where they were in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Then perhaps one day their moment will come again where PR will be back as a possibility...
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    Well sycatonne, when a man and a woman love each other very much...
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    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    The Lib Dems are in a strange position in that they put forward a portfolio of views that are probably quite popular with a large section of the electorate: centrist, pro-European, but they are currently struggling electorally. I expect a lot of the students, centre-left liberal middle classes that have jumped on Corbyn's bandwagon secretly wish he was fighting for a second referendum and challenging Brexit and maybe some find his economic policies too radical. But they are on board with him for his authenticity and challenge of the Tories, where they see the Lib Dems as being ineffective.

    Next election they may find things even tougher, as the advance of Labour means they don't have as many seats where they can benefit from tactical voting by being in second place. Labour now has a huge bank of 'target seats' for the next election where they can overhaul Tories, whereas the Lib Dems list of realistic targets is much smaller: although a fall in the Tory vote would still bring another 10 or so seats within their grasp and getting their MP numbers back in to the 20s would be decent progress.

    In a historical context, the Lib Dems (or Liberals) have been in similar positions before and come back, and just missed some opportunities that might have otherwise changed their fortunes. In 2017 they got 12 seats and 7.4% of the vote, which is similar to where they were for most of the post war years up till the 1980s. In the 1980s, when Labour split and the SDP formed as a centre left party out of Labour, they joined with the Liberals as the SDP-Liberal Alliance and suddenly had a large support base that threatened to alter the balance of politics. But the first-past-the-post system went against them, so when they were polling 23 - 25% in the 1980s they were returning 22/23 MPs and just splitting the opposition to Thatcher enabling her to have 100+ majorities from a similar vote share to that which Theresa May got in 2017!

    After the Alliance broke up and the Lib Dems were at a low ebb in the late 1980s, Paddy Ashdown actually did a very good job as leader - back then people were asking the same kind of questions as now "what is the point of the Lib Dems" and he soon had them winning some stunning by election upsets where massive Tory majorities got overturned and it really put the skids under the Tories.

    The Lib Dems' big opportunity was to get electoral reform so they had a proportional representation system which would potentially have put them in permanent government with one of the other two parties. After suffering repeated defeats to the Tories, Labour were cowed and desperate in the early 1990s and there was a movement within Labour to look to try and join closer to the Lib Dems as a way of getting the Tories out, and Ashdown would have pushed for PR as the price of a coalition. The 1992 election was predicted to be a hung parliament and that would have been the Lib Dems' moment, but the Tories got a surprise win, and then by the time 1997 came round, the country was in love with Blair and Labour rediscovered their self confidence and did not need to bother with PR or the Lib Dems.

    Nevertheless this was a time of great advance in Parliament for the Lib Dems, they went from 20 MPs in 1992, to 46 in 1997, 52 in 2001, 62 in 2005 and 57 in 2010. During these years they were taking advantage of a general weakness of the Tories and were taking traditional Tory seats that the Tories won back on a large scale in 2015 when they knocked the Lib Dems back to 8. They also benefited from the youth vote and students, because Charles Kennedy was the one leader who stood up against the Iraq War, and because of their general progressive policies (they were to the left of Labour in those days) and opposition to tuition fees.

    2010 was their watershed moment. Had the parliamentary arithmetic been a bit different with Labour as the largest party they could have gone into the centre-left coalition they always wanted and been able to moderate and exert influence on Gordon Brown. As it happened Clegg joined with the Tories, failed to get a proper push for PR (instead going for a referendum on AV which nobody was really interested in at that point), surrendered on tuition fees (against the will of the party), and having fought a campaign to the left of Labour, was then involved in a government pushing through right-wing regressive policies. The Lib Dems found themselves trotting out the mantras about austerity which just made them look not credible, if they believed in austerity so much why had they not campaigned for it? So that lost them a lot of credibility and their natural support base has now locked on Corbyn.

    I think it will be a long route back however there is a glimmer...if the Tories make a shambles of Brexit and their vote collapses, and there starts to be more pressure on Corbyn over Brexit, the centre-left Remainers will start to drift back towards the Lib Dems, and they might start climbing slowly back at least to where they were in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Then perhaps one day their moment will come again where PR will be back as a possibility...
    Excellent post.

    I do however think the Lib Dems would be better off going for the right rather than the left. There are way more tory - lib dem marginals than lab- lib ones.

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    They are a 20th century leftover mishmash. They have no relevance in the modern world.
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    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    2010 was their watershed moment. Had the parliamentary arithmetic been a bit different with Labour as the largest party they could have gone into the centre-left coalition they always wanted and been able to moderate and exert influence on Gordon Brown. As it happened Clegg joined with the Tories, failed to get a proper push for PR (instead going for a referendum on AV which nobody was really interested in at that point), surrendered on tuition fees (against the will of the party), and having fought a campaign to the left of Labour, was then involved in a government pushing through right-wing regressive policies. The Lib Dems found themselves trotting out the mantras about austerity which just made them look not credible, if they believed in austerity so much why had they not campaigned for it? So that lost them a lot of credibility and their natural support base has now locked on Corbyn.
    I'm probably one of those ex support base people. Although the finical crisis and the whole coalition with the Tories thing, along with becoming more politically self conscious (I'm much more aligned with the historical purpose of the labour party), has meant I can't ever see myself going back to the lib dems. I would have voted for them during the New Labour years, but I was voting for them as a party to the left of labour. I wasn't voting for them to go in coalition with the Tories. Now I actually understand politics more I can;t ever see myself voting for a liberal party that may go into coalition with a conservative party (who are my political opponents). I'd only vote for that to keep out a really bad reactionary force like the Front National in France.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    Because ultimately you can still be a moderate, reasonable person and not want to swallow wholesale whatever the two main parties throw at you at each election. I think the Lib Dems are actually a very useful thing: they give a scope for a good old fashioned protest vote when you're absolutely sick of what the party you usually support is going at any given point, without having to go entirely over to the other side.
    What if you are sick of deing disabled people? The Lib Dems were of **** all use with that. They were in the position to bring down a government that was doing that and instead they just enabled it. Unless you could stomach voting for labour you had no where to go other than just not voting.
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    (Original post by Bornblue)
    Excellent post.

    I do however think the Lib Dems would be better off going for the right rather than the left. There are way more tory - lib dem marginals than lab- lib ones.
    The interesting point here is the headway they made against the Conservatives was strongest during the Charles Kennedy days when they were more strongly to the left. When they became a pro-austerity party, they lost lots of seats to the Conservatives.
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    (Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
    What if you are sick of deing disabled people? The Lib Dems were of **** all use with that. They were in the position to bring down a government that was doing that and instead they just enabled it. Unless you could stomach voting for labour you had no where to go other than just not voting.
    I don't understand what "deing" is, I'm afraid.
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    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    The Lib Dems are in a strange position in that they put forward a portfolio of views that are probably quite popular with a large section of the electorate: centrist, pro-European, but they are currently struggling electorally. I expect a lot of the students, centre-left liberal middle classes that have jumped on Corbyn's bandwagon secretly wish he was fighting for a second referendum and challenging Brexit and maybe some find his economic policies too radical. But they are on board with him for his authenticity and challenge of the Tories, where they see the Lib Dems as being ineffective.

    Next election they may find things even tougher, as the advance of Labour means they don't have as many seats where they can benefit from tactical voting by being in second place. Labour now has a huge bank of 'target seats' for the next election where they can overhaul Tories, whereas the Lib Dems list of realistic targets is much smaller: although a fall in the Tory vote would still bring another 10 or so seats within their grasp and getting their MP numbers back in to the 20s would be decent progress.

    In a historical context, the Lib Dems (or Liberals) have been in similar positions before and come back, and just missed some opportunities that might have otherwise changed their fortunes. In 2017 they got 12 seats and 7.4% of the vote, which is similar to where they were for most of the post war years up till the 1980s. In the 1980s, when Labour split and the SDP formed as a centre left party out of Labour, they joined with the Liberals as the SDP-Liberal Alliance and suddenly had a large support base that threatened to alter the balance of politics. But the first-past-the-post system went against them, so when they were polling 23 - 25% in the 1980s they were returning 22/23 MPs and just splitting the opposition to Thatcher enabling her to have 100+ majorities from a similar vote share to that which Theresa May got in 2017!

    After the Alliance broke up and the Lib Dems were at a low ebb in the late 1980s, Paddy Ashdown actually did a very good job as leader - back then people were asking the same kind of questions as now "what is the point of the Lib Dems" and he soon had them winning some stunning by election upsets where massive Tory majorities got overturned and it really put the skids under the Tories.

    The Lib Dems' big opportunity was to get electoral reform so they had a proportional representation system which would potentially have put them in permanent government with one of the other two parties. After suffering repeated defeats to the Tories, Labour were cowed and desperate in the early 1990s and there was a movement within Labour to look to try and join closer to the Lib Dems as a way of getting the Tories out, and Ashdown would have pushed for PR as the price of a coalition. The 1992 election was predicted to be a hung parliament and that would have been the Lib Dems' moment, but the Tories got a surprise win, and then by the time 1997 came round, the country was in love with Blair and Labour rediscovered their self confidence and did not need to bother with PR or the Lib Dems.

    Nevertheless this was a time of great advance in Parliament for the Lib Dems, they went from 20 MPs in 1992, to 46 in 1997, 52 in 2001, 62 in 2005 and 57 in 2010. During these years they were taking advantage of a general weakness of the Tories and were taking traditional Tory seats that the Tories won back on a large scale in 2015 when they knocked the Lib Dems back to 8. They also benefited from the youth vote and students, because Charles Kennedy was the one leader who stood up against the Iraq War, and because of their general progressive policies (they were to the left of Labour in those days) and opposition to tuition fees.

    2010 was their watershed moment. Had the parliamentary arithmetic been a bit different with Labour as the largest party they could have gone into the centre-left coalition they always wanted and been able to moderate and exert influence on Gordon Brown. As it happened Clegg joined with the Tories, failed to get a proper push for PR (instead going for a referendum on AV which nobody was really interested in at that point), surrendered on tuition fees (against the will of the party), and having fought a campaign to the left of Labour, was then involved in a government pushing through right-wing regressive policies. The Lib Dems found themselves trotting out the mantras about austerity which just made them look not credible, if they believed in austerity so much why had they not campaigned for it? So that lost them a lot of credibility and their natural support base has now locked on Corbyn.

    I think it will be a long route back however there is a glimmer...if the Tories make a shambles of Brexit and their vote collapses, and there starts to be more pressure on Corbyn over Brexit, the centre-left Remainers will start to drift back towards the Lib Dems, and they might start climbing slowly back at least to where they were in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Then perhaps one day their moment will come again where PR will be back as a possibility...
    I would have imagined that what drew large numbers of students to Corbyn was his anti-austerity politics rather than a hope that he would challenge Brexit. I mean logically speaking, he is a eurosceptic himself whose contribution to the Remain campaign was lukewarm at best and sabotage at worst. The fact Lib Dem eurofanaticism was unable to provide a significant boost to their votes (indeed their vote share fell) seems to be further confirmation that the Lib Dems are a pointless party with no meaningful policy positions.

    In the 2017 election and to some extent 2015 election, the electorate had a straight binary choice between a genuine centre-right party in the form of the Conservatives and centre-left party in the form of Labour (In Corbyn's case, hard left). To me it seems that for the Liberal Democrats to boost support, they would have to take an anti-austerity tone which Labour under Corbyn already does.

    Asides from eurofanaticism, what else do the Lib Dems have? Perhaps anti-trident, pro refugee and in favour of electoral reform but as you said they surrendered on the last one and the previous two issues are fringe topics which most of the electorate don't care about. Only if Brexit goes really really really wrong will the Lib Dems have a sincere purpose to exist.
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    I'm afraid that Vince Cable as a leader just draws on the memories of Nick Clegg, the Coalition, tuition fees U-turn, in that order. It's the same old egg that Lib Dems want voters to chew.
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    Lots of people on here very confident that the Lib Dems are finished.

    Two or three months ago we were hearing the same thing about Labour under Corbyn. Labour were finished...going to have a historic low number of MPs...UKIP were going to replace Labour as the party of the working class in the north...Labour had lost touch with working class people and instead only spoke to middle class metropolitans in Islington...Brexit had mortally split Labour between Leave voting traditional Labour voters in the north and EU-supporting liberals in London...

    Now we have the right wing press and Tory politicians flapping over "the very real prospect of a Corbyn government".

    Politics rarely deals in absolute certainty. The Lib Dems are in trouble now but they may well rise again.
 
 
 
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