Lord Smith of Clifton writes: trends and tendencies in contemporary UK politics and the future of the Lib Dems

(Preamble: Trevor Smith joined the Liberal Party in 1955 when it had five MPs; he fears he may die with the LibDems having the same number!)

The Lib Dems are in a very serious state, possibly facing meltdown of the kind experienced by the Canadian Conservatives some time ago (though they managed a spectacular come back), or the Canadian Liberals in last year’s elections. The burning question is how, at the very minimum, to limit the electoral damage and hopefully to revive the party’s fortunes.

A starting point is to recognise the turbulent condition that has characterised most party systems in the western democracies for some time. Voter alienation resulted from the dramatic loss of public confidence in the ability/integrity of political elites. This has prompted a perceptible lurch to the Right in many countries, including such notable social democracies as Holland. The UK has not been immune to this. New Labour was the most obvious symptom, encapsulated in Mandelson’s phrase – “we are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”, as Blair has succeeded in unashamedly doing for himself since leaving office. New Labour also presided over the continuing growing gap between rich and poor. The drift Rightwards was also seen in the thrust of much of the argumentation in the Orange Book, written by influential LD MPs. The Tories, of course, have always had a significant number of far-Right MPs, – especially the ‘Flag, Faith, Family’ brigade – whose influence waxes and wanes over time, but who are currently becoming more vociferous in the light of the Eurozone crisis.

Where does this place the future of the LDs? We must undertake a tally of our strengths and weaknesses and must not flinch from doing so. The LD Leadership should not seek to stifle this – not least because it can’t. The Labour and Tory parties are engaged in public debates about policy, which are neither particularly convincing nor edifying. But the high rhetoric/low substance surrounding Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ (but no Big Deal!) musings and the oxymoronic (pun intended) nature of the advocacy for ‘Blue Labour’ should not detract LDs from arguing robustly among themselves about the future direction of the party. Such a debate is essential if we are to prepare for the future.

First, at the outset, we must fully recognise the toxic effect of the U-turn on tuition fees: it is as indelible a stain on us as Iraq was on Blair/New Labour or as the treatment of miners was on Thatcherism. There are no mitigating arguments that can be prayed in aid to dispel the sense of public betrayal over tuition fees. Compounding the situation is the stark fact that the new fees system is too complicated to convey easily for general consumption – and in itself that is bad politics.

Second, in Coalition, LDs have allowed the Tories to assume too much of the initiative especially in policy areas where we had earlier set the pace. Prior to 2010, for example, Vince Cable had established his unassailable authority on a whole range of economic issues: unsustainable public and private debt levels; excessive remuneration packages in the big corporations; the inadequacy of banking regulation; and the monopolistic position enjoyed by Rupert Murdoch in the mass media. That considerable advantage has been allowed to be largely squandered. Tackling fat cat pay has now been adopted by Cameron and Osborne and by Ed Miliband. They are all ‘Johnny-come-latelys’ to the problem: the Tories are unconvincing converts, while the Blair/Brown governments positively refused to address the issue, which had become increasingly blatant during their watch. We’ve let both pinch our clothes and it will be difficult to recover our previous unique position. Cameron’s latest proposal to give shareholders more control over remuneration is far too weak; the boards of the institutional shareholders, who control the votes, are as steeped in fat cat greed as elsewhere in commerce and their record (e.g. insurance companies successive pension scandals) is not unblemished.

Third, Nick Clegg fought the last Election promoting the notion of “Fairness” as an operating political principle. The Coalition’s adoption of steadily raising the income tax threshold and pupil premium is consistent with this, but they have to be seen alongside the Government’s fiscal policies that bear most heavily on the poorest and particularly women and thus will have far greater general impact.

I could go on but these examples are enough by way of illustration.

In our stocktaking, we should ask what effect have individual LD ministers had on policy-making of a distinctive LD kind. We have not resisted Michael Gove’s emaciation of local authorities’ involvement in education in England with the quangoisation of schools through a massive expansion in the number of Academies. Andrew Lansley (if we are foolish enough to let him) will have poisoned the NHS with a massive injection of private marketisation. When Lib Dem ministers demit office, what foot prints will have been left of which they can be proud? In these two policy areas LD ministers seem to have exercised little or no clout.

Since May 2010, the position of women has deteriorated both in terms of lower-end job prospects and representation on the boards of major corporations. Lynne Featherstone, the LD minister for women, should say what, if any, policies have been initiated to deal with these two problems.

We should ask ourselves what the noticeable Lib Dem impact has been on broad areas of Government policy not covered in the Coalition Agreement, and in too many areas it is clear that we have been out-manoeuvred by our Tory partners in Government. True, we are the junior partners but we should not be pushovers – too much has been conceded to date.

For example, in the areas of Defence and Foreign Affairs – where we have ministers – there is no public evidence of any obvious LD influence in the conduct of policies; indeed, quite the reverse as in the case of the employment of Cameron’s EU veto. At best, there has been acquiescence. And, yet again as with the economy, our internationalism has been squandered – a unique selling- point over decades. How can we recover this?

What steps should now be taken to protect/re-assert our profile/ratings?

First, we should acknowledge the tuition fee debacle, and demonstrate that our remorse over fees is not as fragile as our original commitment against them. To this end, we should fight for a substantial reduction in fees now and, very importantly, ensure this happens before the 2015 general election. A post general election reduction could be met from the savings from abandoning Trident. (We assume that’s still LD policy but wouldn’t bank on it!).

Secondly, LDs should make a firm commitment significantly to reduce the gap between rich and poor that has been growing under successive governments over the past three decades. This Government is reforming welfare payments to save public funds, reducing welfare dependency, as well as “idleness” among the poor. Any future government with formal Lib Dem involvement or support must address the other end of the spectrum – the idle rich, to which end the ‘mansion tax’ or some variant should be re-visited.

Thirdly, we must also state LDs will tackle three other glaring inequalities: gender, ethnic and regional.

As we’ve said, the position of women continues to deteriorate and this must be reversed. For example, there must be much more childcare provision for working parents, while consideration of the introduction of quotas on the boards of major corporations as has been successfully accomplished in Norway. It’s clear the recommendations of the Davies’ Report, that called for FTSE 350 boards to have 25% women membership by 2015, are not being taken seriously enough by business generally, and neither the ratio nor the date look like being achieved.

Similarly, it is abundantly clear, in view of the appalling slowness to date, ethnic recruiting quotas must be introduced for a defined period of, say, ten years for the police services; this policy has worked very well in remedying the Catholic/Protestant imbalance in the Police Service of Northern Ireland and should be emulated in Great Britain. Quotas are a very effective method of remedying ingrained institutionalised bigotry, bias and prejudice.

Regional inequalities: the North/South prosperity divide continues to widen. Are the recent Enterprise Zones, part of a policy of “managed decline” or an earnest attempt to promote authentic economic growth in the Regions? The Barnett Formula should be applied to the English Regions with full transparency; in a way previous governments have shied away from doing.

Finally, for the moment, but very importantly, there remains the question of the future of the NHS. How it develops is vitally concerning for England (NI, Scotland, and Wales are distinct) and no less so for the LDs. There needs to be some very serious intra-party discussions if ruptures are to be avoided or at least contained.

In terms of LD party management, the NHS issue is symptomatic of a growing authoritarian tendency amongst the Leadership. Party Conferences are becoming too stage-managed. Tom McNally, LD leader in the Lords, has written in Liberal Democrat News suggesting they should be held less frequently! The provision for membership participation in policy-making distinguishes the LDs from the Tories and Labour. It should be lauded, defended and not diluted.

Trevor Smith is a Liberal Democrat working peer.

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13 comments on “Lord Smith of Clifton writes: trends and tendencies in contemporary UK politics and the future of the Lib Dems
  1. Grammar Police says:

    I’m afraid I stopped reading this when I got to the part that suggested we cut tuition fees. With the scheme we have now, cutting tuition fees will only benefit those graduates who go on to have high salaries in the future, but will not benefit low earning graduates at all.

    The fact that Lord Smith can’t see that is pretty depressing.

  2. Seth says:

    An excellent piece. Despite its gloomy overview on the state of liberal politics, I find it a huge relief that at least one member of the parliamentary party “gets it”, and is free from the self-delusion and wishful thinking which now sadly characterises so much Lib Dem thinking about how bad things are for the party.

    I very much agree with Trevor Smith’s three points as a starting point – but they are a starting point. People will ultimately remember the coalition in the light of how it ended (just as we remember Thatcher in the light of how she was deposed, for instance). In my opinion, only a full Lib Dem rebellion dissolving the coalition would be enough to help mitigate some of the toxic electoral effects on the party. (And remember that the Tory right is baying for Lib Dem blood. I actually think the coalition being dissolved by a 1922-style rebellion of right-wing Tory backbenchers is a more likely end to the coalition than it simply reaching a mutually satisfactory conclusion in June 2015.) But even in itself, ending the coalition is not enough – as Smith says, Lib Dems need to show here and now in the public mind that we’re recovering our senses.

    For too long, Lib Dem attitudes to the coalition have followed two broad patterns. Firstly, there are those believing that it’s fine to be signed up to an increasingly unjust government, so long as Simon Hughes or Tim Farron can then pop up on the evening news attacking what their own party is doing, saying that rank-and-file activists don’t really believe in it. It didn’t work for 13 years of New Labour, and there’s no reason to believe it will be any different for the Lib Dems. Realising that this is a kamikaze strategy, Nick Clegg follows an “own everything” strategy, of claiming Lib Dem ownership of – and responsibility for – every area of policy. For obvious reasons, this is also a kamikaze strategy.

    The party is in a jam, and it’s refreshing to see Lord Smith acknowledging this.

  3. Neville Farmer says:

    I wholly agree with Trevor’s excellently-written article but would go further. I truly believe that our quiet acquiescence to Gove’s and Willett’s policies on education is storing up hell for Britain’s future. It will result in the impoverishment of our greatest resource – bright, young people. Further, the European debacle is one area where Nick should shine but is not. As always, it boils down to the party’s inability to get the message over to the British people. He should have jumped on Cameron’s childish antics but instead he played along. The argument that to keep quiet was for the greater good shows very poor logic but it is one the party core is using again and again.

    At it’s heart, the collapse of the Lib Dems was to be expected whatever we chose to do after the election and I still believe we made the right, brave and honourably sacrificial choice. I am proud to see Vince’s ideas coming to fruition, even if he’s not credited. But as Trevor rightly points out, our deafening silence is killing us.

    So is the offensive squandering of our democratic party structure. Since the election, our ministers and most of our parliamentarians and lords have build a motte and bailey to protect themselves from the very members who got them their jobs. The manipulation of the Birmingham conference was insulting and shameful. Regional party chairs and presidents, let alone ordinary members cannot expect the courtesy of a reply to letters from Ministers, MPs, Lords or the Party President. Yet members such as Evan Harris, Charles West and Prateek Buch have been far more effective speakers against Lansley’s rape of the NHS than almost any parliamentarian other than Andrew George and Shirley Williams.

    The fact that none of us can comprehend why our MPs file into the lobbies to vote for things so sickening to our morals shows just how detached they have become from our party. They don’t even try to explain, as though we’re not worth the effort. As long as the Party’s “politburo” deliberately ignores the weatlh of talent and intelligence among the party membership, it gets exactly what it deserves and will sink with all hands. The problem is that neither the wider membership nor the country deserves to be so abandoned.

  4. Paul Evans says:

    I won’t pretend I agree with all of this, but I do strongly believe that the party cannot make a coherent argument on inequality while our parliamentary party so poorly reflects Britain’s diversity. I make a point of attending Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrat meetings at conference and generally find a palpable sense of frustration with the snail’s pace progress. While I have a natural cringe at the idea of quotas and the Tories have clearly stolen a march on us without them – the first task is clearly building a membership and local government base that represents this country.

  5. Andy Mayer says:

    The principle issue with tuition fees is not the policy detail, it’s the dent it put in the party’s reputation for consistency and honesty. It is not sensible then to try and solve that by enacting yet another U-turn.

    Further, as Grammar notes, it is surely unwise to appear to prioritise the rent-seeking preferences of future graduates against people with genuine needs in a time of austerity? Wherever you think you can get the money, there are a list of 100 causes more deserving than future bankers, lawyers and doctors, particularly when the new system means if you can’t pay you don’t.

    One such cause you believe is your second point about narrowing the gap. Is that more or less important than bunging money at students, a policy that explicitly does the opposite?

    Further why do we need a new property tax to do this? We already have a pseudo-land/property tax – Council Tax. If mansions are such a problem, stick some new bands on, and let local areas have some discretion.

    In your third point, broadly ‘hurrah for quotas!’, I wonder if you and other white male colleagues, would kindly consider surrendering your peerages in order to effect change?

    I’m sure, based on recent appointments, that Clegg would be entirely open to refreshing his Parliamentary talent pool sensitive to diversity in order to remedy the “ingrained institutionalised bigotry, bias and prejudice”, you may not even be aware you are responsible for imposing on the House by the accident of your genes. .

  6. Paul Pettinger says:

    There is so much here to spark further debate, but for the moment I just want to touch upon Government education policy – I find it so refreshing that Lord Smith uses the word ‘quangoisation’ to describe the Academies programme. This is exactly what is happening, yet our Party leadership appears to think that Academies are in keeping with liberal principles and help to decentralize power.

    Upon closure inspection Academies do nothing of the sought. What takes place is that the governors of the old maintained school become life trustees of the new Academy school, which (as a former school governor) seems an utterly bizarre and unwarranted measure. Very little extra power is given to teachers, while parents are disenfranchised as the local authority stops selecting any future governors – this task is given over to the new life Trustees.

    Extra power that the senior management of a school does get include gaining control over buying in support services previously provided for free by the local authority. Arguably this is an area that senior school management are not skilled or knowledgeable enough to take proper control over – just look at how the private sector has run rings around our civil servants in PFI deals – yet in Academies they are being asked to take their attention away from what is going on in classrooms and (attempt to) become experts in public procurement.

    Academies do not raise standards. Instead appear to make little difference to school’s performance, as a Government commissioned report by PWC a few years ago found. Unfortunately the Department for Education are economical with the facts, so as help advance the Government’s current anti-state agenda. Can anyone remember when the Conservatives used to talk about creating Swedish styled Free Schools (free schools are just another type of Academy school)? Of course they have ceased talking about this model, as sentiment in Sweden has swung against the schools as they have been found to increase segregation; help create inefficiency in the public school system, and not improve overall standards. I can only assume the Government will jettison charter schools in the US once data and evidence catches up with them – the Govt’s claim that that the expansion of Academies is based on evidence is a shame.

    Instead the Academies programme is based on neo-liberal ideological conviction, which our leadership has foolishly signed up to – I hope this is due to their inexperience and lack of knowledge, rather than because they share neo-liberal sentiment.

    However, with Nick Clegg writing with David Cameron in the ‘Open Public Services’ white paper last year that ‘… those who resist reform, put the producer interest before the citizens’ needs’ it is hard not to fear the worst, and that our Party is being remodeled as something akin to (a smaller version) of the FDP in Germany. Our current direction of travel suggest we are slowly heading that way: unless we collectively take a stand and do something about it the Lib Dems in 2015 currently look like being a very different animal to the one that fought the 2010 election, and not just because it will have a lot less members and elected representatives.

  7. Simon Dodd says:

    Excellent article – very well written and very balanced analysis. In particular, very good point about the Tories assuming the initiative – we seem unable nationally to claim any credit. Our pre-May 2010 radicalism and foresight has been consumed by a desire to prove that we can govern regardless of the decisions being made. We have to sit up and reclaim the liberal agenda. In my view, there are two main areas to look at – leadership and message

  8. Sue Doughty says:

    Well done Trevor for setting out such a thoughtful analysis. It’s particularly important at a stage in this Parliament when the party is trying to determine it’s narrative for not only the rest of this Parliamen,t but also beyond as Neil Stockley has highlighted elsewhere. It’s also important when Ed Miliband today is making such a hash of presenting a realistic alternative. Its is all very well saying that those in work don’t expect to support scroungers but with current unemployment figures, and lack of opportunities this is not the way to go. There is a lot that can be done, but our ministers would do well to remember that the coalition needs us if it is to succeed.
    We are not married to the Tories, and Shirley has demonstrated that we must not be afraid to demand improvements to socially unacceptable legislation. We must shout out more on injustice at all levels, and the dire state of the economy only makes this more important. It seems bizarre that if the economy is failing, for example, the door is still only half open to women at boardroom level. What is the point of shutting out all that ability and more than a little common sense. We need to be embracing that talent among women and indeed other under represented groups.
    Lack of cash leads to lack of back office support and this means that the party could perform better. However I am now getting the feeling that a siege mentality is taking a hold at the top. This must change. It’s not yet too late to get the party back and start really showing that we have those principles which our supporters share.

  9. Nigel Smith says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with so many of these points. It’s truly tragic to see that so few members are prepared to take an honest and open position on the state of the party and how it got to where it is.

    What we’ve been subject to instead is a peculiar kind of almost cult-like denial as we’re all continually reassured that “things will work out well in the end” – but how? What even would it all working out well look like?

    I find the comparison to other parties which have imploded to be compelling – the Conservatives in Canada had at least the excuse of being divided whilst the Liberal party’s collapse there was largely down to a serious lack of identity and purpose. Just what were they for? What are the Liberal Democrats today for? We’re told that they’ve taken the edge off the Tories’ worst plans but that claim doesn’t really stand up to serious scrutiny.

    Ignoring the fact that without the coalition, none of the Conservatives’ plans could have been put into action we’re left with the realisation that the Liberal Democrats have traded a series of largely wonkish and technocratic measures which are poorly, if at all, understood by the electorate for the broad sweeping themes of Conservative reform that shall affect the lives of millions.

    Chief among the concessions is surely the Conservative’s economic policies. Up to the very moment that the polls closed on election day, the Liberal Democrat position was to do the very opposite of what we’re now lead to believe Danny Alexander and the rest of the leadership firmly believe must happen. The consequences of allying ourselves to the tried, tested and failed economic policies of Conservatives the world over and shamefully putting ourselves in opposition to the economic ideals of that well-known anti-progressive politician President Obama will be felt for many years to come.

    When Clegg has taken up whichever international job it is that he’s meant to want and Alexander is running some ghastly lobbying firm in London, no one will much remember ‘Alarm Clock Britain’, the pupil premium (much less its origin) or any other measure that excites the true believers for a few days but they will remember their years of under-employment and unemployment, the lies about tuition fees, the first time they saw ads for private provision in the NHS and, first and foremost, that they should never trust the Liberal Democrats again.

  10. Bill le Breton says:

    This is a powerful piece from one of the Party’s best thinkers. But Professor Smith has also always been an activist. Few will realise just how influential he was in the Party’s performance in the 1997 election.

    So, when he speaks, the leadership should listen, but they won’t, because very few of them will even know how influential he has been in getting them into the position they now occupy. Their political inexperience and naivety is plain to see, as the brief list in his piece makes clear. To borrow a Smithism – they are not very good political plumbers. But why should we expect them to be? Getting in through a party list (Clegg), taking over a safe seat (Clegg, Huhne, Alexander, Laws).

    Professor Smith was also responsible for making sure that the Alliance’s advances in the 1985 county elections were supported with help and advice on the ground. This was another election that saw a dramatic step-change in our performance. It led to a situation in which around a quarter of the County Councils elected that May moved into ‘no overall control’.

    David Owen thought those councillors would jeopardise the ‘centre’s’ progress, his progress. Like Clegg, he completely misjudged the political expertise of those outside of the Westminster elite.

    In fact the Alliance groups were brilliant at getting their policy through in the same kind of political environment in which today’s leadership finds itself.

    Those councillors proved that (sorry mixed metaphor coming) you can drive political institutions from the back seat, so long as you have political principle, a determination to get your policies through and are smart, tough and comprehensive negotiators. They also ensured that they communicated well internally to their own local parties, externally to the media and through continuing local campaigning to their electorate.

    But the other aspect to plumbing in Smith’s Approach was poetry – to have the imagination of a political poet: a vision (if we must call it that) and the inspiration to express it in a way that connects with people who are resident outside of the Westminster village.

    That’s real political leadership. That’s what we are lacking. And that’s why we are being judged by the public as rogue traders.

    The tragedy (literally) is that the great advance of ‘97 (in part facilitated by Professor Smith) was not exploited by those who had built the foundations so well, but by those attracted in by the prospect opened up by that success and who thought we stood for economic liberalism because they knew us no better. Who thought Adam Smith’s invisible hand was a Liberal system and not, as we well knew, a mask behind which greed, selfishness and individualism could portray itself as morality.

  11. Brian Robson says:

    I’m slightly uneasy with the comparison with Canada. The electorate there is quite volatile, and the latest set-back for the Liberal Party there may only be a temporary phenomenon. Certainly they have proved capable of renewal after similar set-backs in 1958 and 1984. Likewise, the appalling PC result in 1993 masks the fact that the Reform Party actually had 50-odd MPs, of which the current Conservative PM was one, and Lord Smith is quite right to point out that the right in Canada has bounced back very effectively from that set-back.

    I think a more accurate comparison of the dangers we may face may be with the Progressive Democrats in Ireland. Over time, the PDs abandoned any pretence of equidistance, ceased to fulfill their original purpose as a ‘hinge’ party and found their electoral fortunes wedded to those of Fianna Fail. Our stronger history and roots will spare us the ultimate fate of the PDs, but we should be mindful of their history, and those of parties with simialr experiences around the World (Act in New Zealand, the Democrats in Australia).

  12. Miranda Cook says:

    I think it will be hard to recover from the coalition, but whatever happens, giving up on our beliefs is not an option. I think people expected the Liberal Democrats to be able to simply refuse the tuition fees, but unfortunately in a coalition, especially if the other party leads it, it is much harder to stand by your promises. I completely agree with the fact that women should be equal to men – even gender stereotyping is an issue which really irritates me – as a young teenage girl, I am expected to only be interested in my mobile phone and boys, and my interest in politics is often seen as “weird”. I personally believe that race, gender, religion and nationality should have nothing to do with your opportunities.
    I do believe that the Liberal Democrats would be much better without the Tories in a coalition government – but in order to win the next general election (which unfortunately, despite the fact I already know which party I would vote for, I will still be too young to vote in unless 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to vote too), we, as Liberal Democrats and supporters, must keep fighting for what we believe, and showing people that social liberalism is the best thing our country.

  13. Michael Parsons says:

    Lord Smith’s careful and well-balanced review will be very useful in considering our position after the May elections – that being the only real test of opinion as we are so often told in the press.

    The Liberal coalition with the Tories (under Simon) in the National Coalition of the Depression of 1930′s saw a rejection of Lloyd George’s New Deal and a policy of a banker backed Raw Deal instead with the usual bogus justifications of an austerity package. The Liberal Party then lost its Welfare State initiative and electoral success to the Labour movement as we all know. That was a disaster, as the centralised, State-run version of Social Contract triumphed, exposing the Welfare State to all the destructive criticism since levelled at it.

    The current loss of social benefits is used to sustain organisations like the IMF and various broken banks, and huge budget deficits have been created to switch from democratic public control to private power and the financialisation of society.

    The ITEM club 2012 Spring analysis states
    (quote)
    Ideally each sector balance would be close to zero. What stands out is the government financial deficit or net borrowing, which pumped £147 billion into the economy in 2010 and a further £122 billion last year. But these massive figures were largely the consequence of cash being drained out of the economy and indeed the Exchequer by the private sector. The biggest drain was the company sector, which sucked a hefty £72 billion out of the system in 2010, and a further £80 billion last year. And most of this cash is being hoarded, not spent or invested. Non-financial companies increased their holdings of currency and bank deposits by £48 billion in 2010 and a further £82 billion last year, taking the total to £754 billion, a staggering 50% of GDP.

    It is not difficult to see how companies find themselves in this cash-rich position. Globalisation has dramatically increased the power of capital over labour, with workers at the bottom of the pile and even the ‘squeezed middle’ coming under huge pressure. This has been most apparent in the US where companies continued to post record profits right through the downturn. In the UK, companies have been swimming in cash while consumers have been drowning in debt
    (unquote)

    But an updated New Deal policy would mobilise these idle balances for productive use; and use budget deficits to fight ignorance, poverty, disease and idleness: there should be no reliance on false hopes of automatic macro-economic return to full employment equilibrium in a market economy, if only because workers cannot release spending power by mortgaging their labour in advance (although debt-bondage may be reappearing with student and pay-day loans).

    So the Coalition’s reliance on private action is likely to be very ill-founded. In that case and we are being used as human shields for the battle-tanks of the Tory party of Big Capital. I suggest we need to be very circumspect in the Coalition and can only welcome Lord Smith’s thought-provoking article.

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  1. [...] Lib Dem Working Peer Lord Smith of Clifton has blogged on the Social Liberal Forum website about his fears for the future of the party. To be honest and open, I should point out that Lord [...]

  2. [...] Lord Smith of Clifton writes: trends and tendencies in contemporary UK politics and the future of the Lib Dems (Social Liberal Forum: Jan 2012) This entry was posted in viewpoint by admin. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

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  4. [...] new and radical. If we so desire, we could go into 2015 with the policy we pursued in 2010, as Lord Smith of Clifton has argued. We could advocate the total abandonment of contributions, contrary to what we’ve practised in [...]

  5. [...] new and radical. If we so desire, we could go into 2015 with the policy we pursued in 2010, as Lord Smith of Clifton has argued. We could advocate the total abandonment of contributions, contrary to what we’ve practised in [...]

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