FARRON’S LONG JOURNEY
When I planned my visit this weekend to the Lib Dem’s conference in Bournemouth, it was to see how a party goes from government to irrelevance in one short year. Last autumn in Glasgow the Deputy Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet were present. This year you will be lucky to spot one of the eight MPs amongst the diminished group of activists who will huddle in a hall now far too big for their needs.
It will be a long way back for the Lib Dems but they may have been given a boost by the election of Jeremy Corbyn. The new Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, is claiming he’s had lots of Labour MPs ringing him up dismayed by the first week of Corbynism. This may be pre conference nonsense and I’m not convinced the despair of right wing Labour MPs is so great that they would leave the sinking ship of Labour (as they presumably see it) to get into the waterlogged rowing boat that is the Lib Dems. Comparisons have been made with the position of Labour moderates after Michael Foot’s election in 1981. Then there were former Cabinet Ministers like Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams and David Owen who had enough stature to form the Social Democrats. It is difficult to see who would lead such a defection now except David Miliband and he is over the water, for now.
Anyway the Lib Dems don’t really need defecting MPs, what they need are voters who don’t want to go down Corbyn’s socialist road but prefer the left of centre position of Tim Farron. He was elected as the more radical of the two Lib Dem leadership candidates and unlike his opponent Norman Lamb had not been tainted by serving alongside Tories in the Coalition government.
In his keynote speech next week, I expect Farron to say he is the fresh leader and distance himself from the Tory led Coalition that nearly finished his party off. He might even pledge never to do a deal with them again. In these circumstances his party might start the long road back a little sooner flushed with the support of some ex Labour voters.
JEREMY’S FIRST WEEK.
Not that Corbyn’s first week has been as bad as the
The Tory press would lead you to believe. Prime Minister’s Questions was a refreshing change. David Cameron toned down the Bullingdon Club rhetoric and some ordinary people got their questions answered.
On the issue of Corbyn not singing the National Anthem at the Battle of Britain service, those pilots died to defend freedom of expression. Corbyn is a republican and doesn’t want the Queen to reign over him. So why should he sing it and be called a hypocrite by the Daily Mail, a paper which ran headlines supporting Mosley’s fascists in the thirties?
I think the Spitfire pilots would have been happy with him standing in dignified silence.