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Lib Dem MP: 'We have lost a generation of young voters'

Michael Crick | 20:50 UK time, Tuesday, 19 April 2011

There has been stinging attack on the Liberal Democrat leadership from the backbench MP Adrian Sanders.

"The Liberal Democrats are in trouble," he writes in the new edition of Liberator magazine. "The problem is not wholly electoral. Council by-elections where we have a track record and work hard show we can hold our vote...

"It is more a crisis of confidence and image, both within and without the party, and this will be far more damaging in the long term."

Mr Sanders adds:

"We now face the brutal realisation that we have fractured our core vote, lost a generation of young voters, and alienated thousands of tactical voters in seats where it makes the difference between electoral success or failure."

"The message on the doorstep before the election was often 'I support another party, but you seem to have more integrity and do more for local people so you have my vote.' Now it is 'I used to vote for you, you still work hard for your local area, but you are discredited and lied just like the rest of them.'"

He continues: "It seems like the leadership has done all it can to copy the method of governance of Labour and the Conservatives.

"Our grassroots has been effectively divorced from having input into what the party leadership does. What our ministers do is often driven by special advisers, who never have to face an electorate, and while some are very good and understand this, others seem to have a cosier relationship with journalists than the parliamentary party..."

"The lack of engagement between leadership and party is of some concern; I don't believe the leader spoke to our ministers in the Foreign Office or Ministry of Defence before going for intervention in Libya, let alone sought out opinion among us humble backbenchers before any decisions were made."

And Mr Sanders goes on: "We need the leadership to start acting like the leadership of an independent political party that just happens to be in coalition, not the leadership of a coalition that seems to forget it has an independent political party to take into consideration."


  • Comment number 1.


    Advertise, in the real world, for a LibDem leader of proven ability in MANAGEMENT of people. State: "MUST HAVE NO TRUCK WITH PARTY POLITICS".

    Your mistake (take a look at Dave and Limited Ed) was to DISTIL A LEADER OUT OF THE FETID MASH OF PARTY MPs. It just ALWAYS delivers a delusional, needy wannabe. In short:


  • Comment number 2.

    I'd say he's quite right - and then some.

    IMHO the LibDem Manifesto went in the bin on day one of the coalition negotiations to be replaced by the Orange Book that had been roundly rejected by the Party's policymaking Conference - so in effect the Clegg Cabal staged a coup against his own Party, let alone the electorate.

    Contrary to the way the media often paints it, we now know from Party leaks that Mr Clegg had decided to junk a whole raft of LibDem commitments such as holding down or scrapping student fees and their claimed opposition to the depth and speed of spending cuts BEFORE THE ELECTION not as is often stated when he started the coalition negotiations, so anti-Tory tactical voters were conned into believing that they would get the LibDem centre-left manifesto commitments, but then actually got the libertarian NeoCon policies that Clegg & Cameron both espouse, straight out of the Orange Book.

    As to his hopes of a change in the way the LibDem leadership operates, this is naive in the extreme. I think Clegg and his fellow Orange Book plotters knew all along that this would happen and their medium term plan was to use their Party as a springboard into government, then when things get really sticky they will join the Tory Party helping Cameron to realign it away from the hardline Eurosceptics by swallowing the right wing of the LibDems, leaving the LibDems to face the music with the electorate.

  • Comment number 3.

    How long before Nick joins the Conservative party? oops, silly me...he's already joined....

  • Comment number 4.

    No doubt the LibDems/Conservatives will get a kicking in local elections on 5th May.

    My whole family will be voting YES to AV, on 5th May too, as a once in a lifetime, step forward to PR in order that we, the people, can all give all politicians an equal kicking, who behave badly and those who treat the electorate with contempt, in all areas, in the future.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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