miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
The vultures are already circling round Tim Farron, despite him having got us a 50% increase in seat numbers, and come within 500 votes of doubling our seats. I've also privately had "Tim must go" messages, or variations thereof, from five separate people; and I'm known as a Tim supporter. Christ alone knows what it's like in Lambite circles. I personally think we need a leadership election like we need a hole in the head, but the party constitution says that there must be a leadership election within a year of a general election (see article 17.2 (g) - sorry it's a .pdf). My suspicion is that Federal Board will look at the instability of the current parliament and conclude that we're better to have a new leader in place before the inevitable autumn general election, so they can bed in before it's called. Add to that the large number of Norman Lamb's supporters who never accepted the result of the last leadership election, and have been constantly hampering the party by briefing against Tim since the day of his victory, and a leadership election very soon is almost an inevitability.

If we're going to have a leadership election (which I am pretty resigned to, despite not wanting one) we need to be very careful about how we go about it. A swiftly called, badly run leadership election, fuelled by existing bad blood, will do nothing to enthuse all our lovely new members, and will almost certainly put off some older members too.

We could have a Rubber Stamp Tim election - Tim and RON being the only candidates. I don't think that would wash with the Lambites, or various other people who are anti-Tim for other reasons. And besides, it's possible RON might win and we'd have to have another election, which would be a waste of money the party doesn't have.

We could have a rerun of the last one, but I think that would be utterly disastrous for the party. It would turn very nasty, very quickly. While I stand by everything I said about Tim in the election campaign, some of the BUT TIM HATES THE GAYS ("But her emails!") mud has stuck, and that makes him incapable of taking the fight to the DUP as vociferously and as hard as we need him to. People just do not believe that his values fit with the party, however much you demonstrate to them that they do through his voting record. It's shit, but it's happened, and we have to do something to deal with that. Now, Tim might be able to burst that bubble himself, but he's shown no signs of doing so so far, and the longer it goes on the harder it will be to shift. It may already be impossible. I love Tim to bits, and happily voted for him in the last leadership election, and it has been so relaxing having a leader I agree with on almost everything, and don't have to blog about how rubbish he is twice a week every week... but even I am forced to admit that this One Big Flaw might be fatal, especially given the current proposed government.

Norman Lamb, however, would still be much, much worse. I have many issues with him, but my three main ones are:
  1. He scuppered our entire anti-brexit USP by insisting on the stupid second referendum positioning in the manifesto, entirely because his seat is leave-voting. We should have said that we would halt brexit if we formed a government. Being unambiguously pro-remain, in a way that could be boiled down to two words, would have been a position we could have campaigned on. A second referendum with remain as an option is bloody stupid, needlessly complicated, and not an option anybody was going to vote enthusiastically for: Well first we'd negotiate a brexit deal, then we'd set up a referendum, and then we'd campaign against the deal we ourselves negotiated? It's madness. The electorate is pig sick of elections and referenda right now, too. Brenda speaks for many. The kind of selfishness demonstrated by inserting all that into the manifesto to save your own neck, especially when it played a part in preventing us from winning so many other seats, is not acceptable in a leader.

  2. His policy pronouncements on autism have been entirely along the Autism Speaks/Autism Parents line (for why this is bad, click here. For a dissection of Norman Lamb's views specifically, click here). The fact that Norman is almost universally lauded as being excellent on mental health makes this so much more hurtful, like when people who claim to be LGBT allies say "we achieved equal marriage". Plus, when challenged on it by actually autistic people, he reacted extremely badly: first doubling down, and then saying "oh, come meet me in parliament and we can talk about this" when the volume increased while still promoting the offending article. Both the policy and his reaction to complaints about it make me doubt him as a leader. Whatever Tim's faults, he listens, and if he's wrong, he learns. Lamb shows no sign of being capable of that.

  3. He's a rubbish media performer, and we desperately need a good one. He comes across as cold, aloof, and boring. Tim's Chirpy Northern Chappy schtick is not for everyone, but at least he's passionate when he speaks, and for all my kvetching about Clegg, he was great on the media. Now, this could potentially be trained out of him. But probably not before the next election if it happens as quickly as looks likely.
So, despite Tim's One Big Flaw, in a rerun of the last leadership election I would be forced to vote for him, because Lamb would be so much worse. And I wouldn't be happy. And the party wouldn't be happy. And there would be even more bad blood than there is already. And I accept that I am almost certainly adding to that bad blood with this post, but I'm doing it more in sorrow than in anger; it's stuff that needs to be said.

So: given that we need to prevent a rerun of the last leadership election for all the reasons above, and we can't have a Rubber Stamp Tim election, we need to find another candidate(s). To stand as a candidate for leadership of the lib dems, you have to be an MP. This gives us a potential field of twelve, given the election results (and I will forever mourn that the voters of Cambridge and Wells didn't return Julian Huppert and Tessa Munt to the parliamentary party - Tessa for leader, in particular, I would have wholeheartedly and enthusiatically supported).

The media always touts Vince, but Vince has said many times he doesn't want to do it, plus, while he is undoubtedly excellent on the economy and related matters, he is somewhat shaky on other areas that are important to me, most notably immigration.

Tom Brake is utterly lovely, but anonymous outside London. Stephen Lloyd is even more anonymous than Tom. Ed Davey is too divisive, to put it politely. Alistair Carmichael is too tainted. Wera Hobhouse, Christine Jardine, Jamie Stone and Layla Moran have not been in parliament for long enough - although Layla especially will hopefully be excellent for the future.

So that leaves us with a field of one.

Jo Swinson is an excellent media performer, is sound on policy, and is good at listening to the party. When the leadership election happens, I hope she stands. I really, really hope she stands. For the sake of the party, and all of us in it.

ETA It's been mentioned to me by a couple of people that there is no requirement for a RON in a single candidate election, and that we've had RONless uncontested leadership elections before (before my time, though), so that is less impossible than I've painted it. I still think a contested election is inevitable, though. There's too many anti-Tim people in the party. Sadly.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 12:12 pm (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
Tim is great, but I'd be looking at Jo very carefully in a contest, and think she'd be also great and possibly better for the current moment for all sorts of reasons. Tim's leadership in the aftermath of the 2015 election was essential, though, and I am sorry it didn't get to run for more years of a parliament.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 12:20 pm (UTC)
po8crg: A cartoon of me, wearing a panama hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] po8crg
Well, I've been a big Jo fan since before she was elected as an MP the first time around, so of course I agree, but I'm also a huge Tim fan and I am still angry at the media-briefing undermining him.

Still, I think you're right. Jo would be a great leader.

Boundary changes will be interesting, though - East Dunbartonshire is basically a collection of Lib Dem voting areas surrounded by places we lose our deposits in. Take a look at the 2010 or 2005 results in the surrounding seats and you'll see what I mean. Wouldn't fancy trying to keep her in the Commons at less than 20% nationally if the boundaries change.

ETA: Oh, and: electing a feminist woman as leader would shift a number of attitudes where people think we're a much more sexist party than we are.
Edited Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 12:21 pm (UTC)

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 12:32 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
The boundary review is dead as a Dodo at this point. The DUP are opposed, and enough Tory MPs are as well that it simply won't appear before parliament.

That's assuming that this parliament lasts long enough for it to come to a vote.

-ACMG

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 12:59 pm (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
I really hope so.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 01:04 pm (UTC)
strange_complex: (Prisoner information)
From: [personal profile] strange_complex
I really want this to be true, but does the boundary review need to come before parliament again? I thought it had secured all the parliamentary approval it needed now, and only needed government approval to go ahead? Though I realise that in itself is much less likely now given the election outcome - as you say, TM is hardly in a position to do anything which will antagonise a single Tory or DUP MP now.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 01:44 pm (UTC)
nickbarlow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nickbarlow
IIRC, the principle of the review has been agreed, but the detail has to be put through by one of the many types of Parliamentary procedure which can be blocked and brought in for debate/delay if enough MPs want it to.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 01:48 pm (UTC)
strange_complex: (La Dolce Vita Trevi)
From: [personal profile] strange_complex
OK - good!

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 12:27 pm (UTC)
hollymath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
the party constitution says that there must be a leadership election within a year of a general election

...Reakly? That seems like a terrible fucking thing to have in the constitution.

Date: Monday, June 12th, 2017 08:28 am (UTC)
softfruit: (Default)
From: [personal profile] softfruit
I think it's a good thing in that it makes there being a leadership election in the year after a general election be "just something the constitution mandates" rather than the contest being in and of itself proof of a lack of confidence in the leader. Whether our entirely neutral UKanian media will report this accurately or spin horseshit about it we can, of course, only guess...

Date: Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 02:09 pm (UTC)
vampwillow: skyline graphic (Default)
From: [personal profile] vampwillow
"entirely neutral UKanian media"

We _are_ talking about planet Earth, right? :O

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 12:30 pm (UTC)
nickbarlow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nickbarlow
Good post, nd probably more reasoned than I could have managed as the anti-Tim faction were out for his blood during the campaign and some seemed almost disappointed that he managed to gain seats. Agree on Norman, plus his last leadership campaign showed he was too willing to tack to the right to look for support as well - I worry where we'd be as a party if some of his supporters were in important positions.

And I don't think it's just the second referendum stuff, but the way we ended up saying 'no hard Brexit' a lot more than 'no Brexit' during the campaign was to appease Norman and others.

My only concern with Jo (who's absolutely fantastic on a lot of issues and a good media performer) is that she was a bit of a weathervane on some issues in Government and I'd want to know her position on Brexit and other stuff to be sure.

And if we are going to have an election (and I suspect it would be Jo vs Ed) the time to have it is over the summer, and announce the result at conference. Right now, we need to be sitting tight and ordering the popcorn to let the press focus on the Tory implosion.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 12:47 pm (UTC)
nickbarlow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nickbarlow
I'm pretty sure Ed will stand - he was expecting to last time, and I think a lot of the people who would have been on his team glommed themselves onto Norman's instead. (And there being no one to the right of him probably cost Norman the leadership as he couldn't run the middle-ground uniting the party campaign I think he wanted to do)

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 12:34 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
If Tim wants to continue I will back him. But I would happily follow Jo, Vince or Tom as leader too.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 01:02 pm (UTC)
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
From: [personal profile] hilarita
I didn't know that a leadership election was required in the year after a general election. I assume that in the (currently) unlikely event of the Lib Dems sweeping to power, it would be The Glorious Successful Leader vs RON.

I do think Tim has a massive image problem outside the party; RON-only or a rerun of the previous one would indeed be a bad idea. I agree that Jo Swinson would be an excellent candidate. (Even if Vince Cable would stand, I do think he's too tied to some of the more dubious coalition government decisions.) I hope she decides to stand.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 01:07 pm (UTC)
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
From: [personal profile] hilarita
Um. I can see having an election for current leader or RON. I can't see what the point of holding an election without either other candidates or RON is. It's not an election then, it's just a very expensive rubber stamp. Unless if there are more spoilt ballots than actual votes?

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 01:21 pm (UTC)
po8crg: A cartoon of me, wearing a panama hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] po8crg
No, if there's only one candidate, then that candidate wins unopposed.

What there is, is an opportunity for another candidate to run against the leader if there is another candidate, without needing to actually no-confidence the leader just to get a vote.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 04:40 pm (UTC)
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
From: [personal profile] hilarita
Ah, I get it. Thank you.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 01:11 pm (UTC)
norfolkian: Holtzmann from Ghostbusters licking a gun (Default)
From: [personal profile] norfolkian
This is an informative post and I don't have anything to add other than *hugs*, because I feel like we all need some hugs at the moment.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 02:06 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
My one worry about the almost entirely brilliant Jo is her coalition baggage - I haven't checked her voting record, but I know she voted for tuition fees and I assume that as a minister she had to vote for most of the objectionable bits of the coalition's record as well (and after seeing what Labour did to poor Julian, who rebelled about as much as he could, I'm even more convinced than before that to have any chance of recovery we need to signal a clean break from the coalition ASAP. I can't see the membership agreeing, though - going by the outpourings of love for Nick and his time in government I see on social media, they're all firmly behind Moderate Sensible Coalition Policies Forever :( ) Then again, Tim voted against fees, and that just makes it look awkward when he has to defend them on TV, so maybe it wouldn't make much difference.

(Also, I wasn't aware of Norman being dreadful on autism. That's very upsetting.)

-Joe T.

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 04:04 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
An interest (or two) to declare here. I rejoined the party in the aftermath of the 2015 GE because of Tim. And my daughter joined on the day this GE was called, again largely down to Tim. So we'd both be gutted to lose him as leader (and we're already finding it difficult to stomach losing the wonderful Sarah Olney as our MP, and see her replaced by the smug, smirking T*ry we thought we'd finally seen the back of).
I do have a huge amount of admiration and respect for Ed, largely due to his local profile.
But if Tim did go there is one leader who would *really* make me want to stay in the party: Jo.
- Steve (a Tyke in Exile)

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 05:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badly-drawn-llama.blogspot.com
and don't mention nuclear power!!

Date: Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 02:12 pm (UTC)
vampwillow: skyline graphic (Default)
From: [personal profile] vampwillow
"Orange Book" -v- ?

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 05:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badly-drawn-llama.blogspot.com
I don't really know Tim, but I suspect that if he feels it's right for the party he loves for him to stand down and trigger a leadership election he would do so in a heart-beat. Can I also say that during a difficult election campaign the was a disgrace of any supportive comments for Tim from a couple of ex-leaders (yes I'm looking at you Paddy & Ming) was a total disgrace (*unless I missed something!).

Date: Saturday, June 10th, 2017 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] amalric
The constitution states “(g) the first anniversary of the preceding general election being reached without an election being called under any of paragraphs (a) through (f), provided that:
(i) the Federal Board may postpone such an election for no more than one year
by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting;”
This means an election should start on 8th June 2018. However, this rule has existed for a long time (it is in my 1994 version) and I think where there is only one candidate no actual election takes place – anyone remember one in 1998 or 2002?

My huge problem with Jo Swinson is tuition fees. We just shouldn’t have a leader who voted to triple them and broke their person pledge or promise.

We don’t have a tradition of removing leaders after one general election and we shouldn’t start one now. We should keep Tim and get him to answer any sin questions with a clear denial and suggest he could count the number of times he has given that denial.

Date: Sunday, June 11th, 2017 12:37 am (UTC)
michaelftaylor: Michael Taylor (Default)
From: [personal profile] michaelftaylor
I share your view almost entirely. In a General Election it is imperative that people put aside differences and stand untied against our common enemies. In my view it is unforgivable for Liberal Democrats of any stature whatsoever to brief against the leader or indeed any candidate during the campaign. The deliberate misquotation of Tim by many people was disgraceful.
I have viewed this election from a unique prospective as it is the first GE since my childhood that I have not played an active role. I have watched the progress, or otherwise, of our party from Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and now the USA. From what I have seen of Tim Farron, for whom I voted, he has done a sterling job, given that he's been in post less than 2 years.
The process of detoxifying the party after its five years in power is a work in progress. The transformation of the parliamentary party from all male, all pale would not have happened at all unless Tim had fully supported it. I don't think we have ever had women as 1/3 of the parliamentary party and we have never had an ethnic minority woman at all. Had we got that 465 extra votes we would have had a further two women. Still way to go but on the right road.
So I would take a lot of persuading to support a contested election at all. I think I would continue to support Tim, because his major plus is that he is a Liberal and not on the right of our party and, unlike any other potential candidate, he was not a government minister. Whilst I'm not a denigrator of the coalition I can see that we're not yet out of the wood on its effects.
There are so many more important things to be doing like working out how not to lose seats as well as gain them and starting a conversation with the electorate along Canadian lines to start building a core vote. A divisive leadership campaign is needed like a hole in the head.
If I were Tim, I would announce right now that he is calling for an election immediately and that he will be candidate. I hope other people will not oppose his re-election and that we can get on with building the party under his excellent leadership.

Date: Sunday, June 11th, 2017 01:56 am (UTC)
ruthct21: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ruthct21
Having watched this General Election from afar, I want to congratulate all the campaigners who kept on going in the most unpromising of situations and who kept alive the democratic and internationalist values of Liberalism. But Britain is now in a strange unstable situation. I cannot see the proposed Tory/DUP coalition surviving for long. I think it is highly likely that there will be another General Election within 18 months.
So although it is important to think about the future leadership of the Party, I think that the top priority must be to get candidates in place (and funding underway) for another early election. Tim's initiative to go for early selections after 2015 meant that we were much readier for the 2017 General Election campaign than we usually are: but we still barely survived.
Changing the Leader is not a magic solution to the Party's problems and it would be unreasonable to expect any one person to be able to solve our problems. I think we need to be looking at how and where we deliver our messages, how we engage with the community and how flexible we are at responding to changing circumstances: that's just for starters! There were a great many interesting and innovative political ideas in the submissions to the Your Liberal Britain consultation, but that was essentially re-inventing the Party from within. It's time, I would suggest, to try Justin Trudeau's idea of going out and inviting people to tell us what they want rather than telling them about what we want.

Date: Sunday, June 11th, 2017 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sarahlicity
A Jo leadership would be very welcome; if Jo had kept her seat in 2015, I would've voted for her in a heartbeat, and I know many others would have done so too.

Indeed, *because* of the media pressure on Tim's stances on gay sex and the makeup of the incoming government, having a former equality minister lead the party would allow us to very clearly and very succinctly position ourselves as the diametric alternative to the government, which would be incredibly helpful when all of our English seats are now Tory-facing!

A silver lining in the result is that the Coalition of Chaos line is now dead and buried; indeed, Survation found that people would prefer a rainbow coalition to the Tory/DUP coalition. Hence, we can depart from the "no coalitions, no deals" line that hurt us a lot but we were forced into by necessity, and start openly talking about Lib Dem involvement in government again (e.g. "A government that involves the Liberal Democrats will fight for Britain's place in Europe and in the Single Market").

Date: Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 02:06 pm (UTC)
vampwillow: Westminster portcullis (portcullis)
From: [personal profile] vampwillow
Agree with you on all this. I'm getting really annoyed at the level of timmustgo fuckery on public and private FB groups. We should never have mentioned a third EU ref (and I'd love it if we moved a motion to ban referendums from the UK for ever more).

Members of the house of peers are, of course, MPs. But that probably doesn't help things :O

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