THE BLOG

An Open Letter to Tim Farron

19/05/2015 15:41 BST | Updated 18/05/2016 10:59 BST

Dear Tim,

With you as the front runner and likely successor to Clegg as Liberal Democrat Leader, I feel I ought to express some thoughts and make some points to consider moving forward after the party's decimation at the election.

I am a Former Liberal Democrat supporter, whom like so many, became disheartened by the leadership's choice to enter government with the Tories and felt I could no longer support its stance any longer.

Reality Check

I felt although the practical basis for entering the coalition was rational, responsible and courageous to say the least - it was clearly bad political judgement by Clegg and one which was destined not to pay off.

I, like many former voters, felt that in reality Clegg and the leadership could have successfully played an important role in stabilising the Economy and restoring confidence in the Markets by supporting the government (of whatever composition) formed after the election - Tory or Labour minority - on a vote by vote basis - without having officially entered the Coalition. Thus providing the responsible leadership the nation needed but also retaining the party's political creed from the safe distance of the opposition benches; protecting itself from the inevitable damage in reputation by being involved with the Toxic Tories.

Our Electoral System favours 2 Party Politics - The Liberal Democrats have historically built its support within this brutal system - by let's face it - being the haven of the disillusioned lefties who saw themselves as Anti-Blair - Anti-War - Anti-Establishment - the intellectual home of the reasoned, the rational and the compassionate - fundamentally Liberal; yet committed to social justice through using the mechanisms of the State.

The Liberal Democrat position on Iraq and Tuition fees epitomised what the party stood for in the national psyche - which led to its crescendo of support in the 2005 General Election. Enabling the Tories back into office was heresy. Partnering with the arch establishment party whose ideology is pragmatism and its only goal - power was inevitable going to destroy the Lib Dems - no matter how it was justified.

And if going into Government was the Conservatives was the answer to the historical chip on the shoulder of the Liberal Democrats of never having been tested in office - getting into bed with the Tories certainly wasn't the answer. It showed an acute lack of political judgement in understanding who fundamentally forms the diverse constituencies of electoral support for Liberal Democrat votes - disillusioned left wingers and Classical Liberals, 'Small c' Anti Thatcher Tories.

Moving Forward

Despite the crushing defeat, there is a gaping gap in the market opening in centre left British politics which the Liberal Democrats can only occupy it is Pragmatic, Swift and Strategic. The party does need a total rebranding - this needs to go hand in hand with a consolidation of support from those that feel the 2 main parties no longer represent them.

The leadership cannot afford to become overly philosophical and introspective at this crucial time and engage in a soul searching exercise as the conclusions are clear to draw - Liberal Democrats have galvanised its support in the last 15 years from those that saw Labour as Tory-Lite and the Conservatives as ardent extreme Thatcherites. , It needs to regain the mantle as the Progressive Party.

A clear narrative must develop - one which clearly sees the party bound to the Liberal centre left - this is crucial to win back support from those left behind from Labour's inevitable impending shift to the right by reheating New Labour and those Tory voters in the South West destined to oppose the fundamentally illiberal assault on civil liberties by Cameron's government.

The groundswell of support and energy of the activists needs to be in sync with the narrative of the leadership - a concerted coordinated response on the ground and by the leadership will speed up the regrouping process faster than otherwise.

An integral part of this narrative needs to be a clear break from Clegg, the Orange Book Liberals, the past leadership and its decisions. Be under no illusion - maintaining a link beyond reminding people of its positive contributions in government is electoral suicide. The rhetoric needs to be clear on this or it risks being branded of still defending - the frankly - indefensible.

Don't fear of being labelled treacherous or ruthless - it's prudent and necessary if the party stands a chance at regaining support - The now defunct brand Clegg is toxic and people need not be reminded of it. If anything flaunting your anti-coalition credentials will be to your credit and is in keeping with everything you've said so far.

There are many of us on the left who desperately need you take the lead for the sake of progressive politics in Britain. There's a lot riding on it.