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After Barnsley

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In 1972, the former Home Office minister Dick Taverne was deselected by the Lincoln Constituency Labour Party for being too pro-European. (The party had been out of office since June 1970, and parts of it had drifted as far to the unreal left as others would later move to the amoral right.) Taverne resigned, stood as an independent ‘Democratic Labour’ candidate and won a smashing victory. He now sits on the Liberal Democrat benches in the House of Lords.

With the coalition closing down hospital wards, refuge centres, public libraries, lavatories and employment, the Liberal Democrats have suffered a reversal in Barnsley which may be called historic – near total desertion by their former voters. There are plenty of Liberal Democrats, including MPs, for whom accepting the Osborne budget and cuts is a bitter reversal of a lifetime conviction. There will be yet others for whom career death is a prospect to be got out of sharpish. Meanwhile, active dislike of Nick Clegg, getter of the party into this fine mess in sleek pursuit of the career beautiful, is so much spilt petrol waiting for its match. Time, surely, for one member at least to step down and stand as an Independent Liberal Democrat.

Comments on “After Barnsley”

  1. alex says:

    I somehow sense it’s not just the Liberal Democrat party, but the the very phrase which has been discredited. The Taverne analogy suggests the correct label would be ‘Democratic Liberal’. There might be some catharsis in the metathesis.

  2. Joe Morison says:

    I don’t see that we have any reason to think the Barnsley result is more historic than Eric Lubbock’s win in Orpington was 49 years ago (a surprise Liberal by-election win from the Tories that led to nothing, for those too young to remember). Politics is so fluid at the moment that where we’ll be by the next election is impossible to say – Clegg and the Lib Dems are taking the flak now, but that could all change.

    (And I don’t think New Labour under Blair was the ‘amoral right’ (if only!), it was the infantinely moral right.).

  3. Geoff Roberts says:

    It was a very encouraging result – shows that the electorate is more intelligent than the politicians. Once upon a time, an honoured Labour veteran was kicked out of a seat that he’d held for forty-odd years to make way for a certain Patrick Gordon-Walker, a sixties Clegg-clone. he lost in Smethwick in the general election, was foisted on Leyton, where Reggie Sorensen was loyal enough to take a life peerage. Walker lost in Leyton too, belying the old cliché about labour voters voting for a pig if the party put one up as a candidate. (Who was it?) Makes you think.

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