Justin Webb at Bournemouth covering the conference of ‘a shell-shocked party’.
“I’ve just bumped into Jenny Tongue (sic) who is a liberal democrat party member though she sits as an independent in the House of Lords - an independent very much on the left of the party.
“What’s going through your mind about party membership. Which party do you feel most at home with? Describe whats’ happening in your mind and in your heart”
Justin’s pronunciation of Ms Tonge’s name was obviously Freudian. It was an unconscious, subconscious (or deliberate) verbal evocation of that mocking hand gesture that signals excessive babbling. Yap-yap. The tongue-wag hand gesture.
The Baroness seemed ecstatic. Audibly basking in at all this attention and giving flirtatious, breathless little giggles. I won’t go any further into porn mode, but you get my drift.
“I’ve been a liberal and a Liberal Democrat all my life. Literally all my life. And for the first time in my life I’ve become a bit of a ‘don’t know’. Then when Jeremy (sigh) really swept to the Labour leadership I was ..’But this is amazing!’ ....that he’s managed to galvanise all these people, and I think I was reported as saying I wanted to defect, which is a bit of nonsense. What I’m doing is thinking very very hard, what’s going on, and..”
“But you’re at least considering, that’s the point isn’t it?”
“I’m considering.... both ways”
“Are there other people, Liberal Democrats at the moment, who you think are also having to make that decision?”
“Indeed there are and that’s why I made that remark, actually because I was a little bit annoyed and interested - I suppose both - that Tim Farron and Vince Cable said there were all these Labour MPs wanting to come over and I thought, come on, that’s a bit rich because an awful lot of people are contacting me and saying ‘Are you gonna go over?You know Jeremy, you campaigned with Jeremy’...”
“An awful lot of people?”
“No, that’s a dreadful exaggeration, no. Not an awful lot”
“But you think there are some?”
“Oh. At least a dozen have contacted me personally.”
A Metaphor for this country.
Talking to Lib Dem Peer Baroness Ollie Grender, Justin says:
“But if you bring in... if quite a few Labour MPs were to come, an avalanche has been suggested, if that were to happen, the risk for the Liberal Democrats is that you lose your identity; you lose that part of your politics that is very dear to, probably, most of the people here in Bournemouth.”
“I think our identity is in flux.We already have a massive influx of people since the general election. I think this is the perfect moment for the party to take a long hard look at itself and potentially change its identity. Our identity has already changed in people’s minds because of the last five years.”
Influx? Identity crisis? We’re doomed. Doomed I tells ya. We’re Little Bo Peep. The country has lost its identity and doesn’t know where to find it.
Leave it alone and it will come home, dragging God knows what behind it.
All that stuff about “very much on the left of the party” must surely have been Justin's euphemism for supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, BDS, and so on. I’ll take that as an admission from Justin that The Left is now officially identified with antisemitic causes. Another case of the elephant in the interview.
Never mind. There’s more.
“It’s now 21 minutes past 8. The leader of the Liberal democrats Tim Farron has said his party is open to any Labour MPs unhappy with their new leader Jeremy Corbyn. He even admits to acting as an agony aunt to some of them. But the only politician to have talked publicly about changing party is the former Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Tongue.”
(That’s a pair of tongues now) the wretched woman’s name is Tonge. Not tongs; not tongue.
“She says that along with a lot of people in her party, she’s thinking about joining Labour as she found Corbyn a breath of fresh air, because she ‘had not heard a peep’ on policy from Tim Farron . Well Mr. Farron joins us from his party’s conference in Bournemouth now. Good morning to you.”
"Now that point was also one made by Ollie Grender who was the party’s director of communications - she said normally with a new leader you get a plan for the first 100 days keynote speeches - where has Tim bin*? “You have bin remarkably quiet for a new leader.”
“What peculiar things to say. I mean we are in a position where our membership has gone up by 20,000 since the general election, where we’ve been gaining more council by-elections than any other party across the summer[...
I’m not going to transcribe Tim's lengthy passage about how wonderful the Lib Dems are. I’m sticking to Baroness Tonge.
“And you say that has attracted some labour MPs. How many Labour MPS are thinking of coming over to the Lib Dems?
“I won’t be drawn on that because it would be indecent for me to do so frankly.”
“But can we establish that somebody actually has talked about defecting?”
“A number of people have spoken to me in confidence of their immense angst over the Labour party[...]my job is not to be a home-wrecker ........”
“Jenny Tonge talks about a dozen she’s spoken to who are considering defecting to Labour.’
“Can I just make a really clear point about Jenny Tonge. First of all she is not a Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords, she’s an independent..”
“But she’s a member of the party and has always bin..”
“Can I just clarify something that is very important, which is really peculiar that you didn’t mention it earlier on.
Jenny Tonge had the whip withdrawn in the House of Lords because she gave support for violence in the Middle East in the Israel Palestine conflict, and her admiration for Jeremy Corbyn has always been on the basis of his support for a similar stance.”
“And the dozen others she referred to?”
Well, that’s nice. It’s nice that Tim Farron has spoken out about this issue and stopped all this silly euphemism malarkey and the tedious beating about the bush.
However, I suspect there’s still plenty of pro-Palestinian sentiment with a touch of antisemitism - amongst the ranks. I know David Ward and Baroness Tonge were the worst offenders, but all that CAABU stuff is still a major influence with the party. Nick Clegg fell for it, amongst others.
Even so, Tim Farron might want to differentiate himself from Labour by being a strong, principled leader, and who knows, he might put his foot down if any Lib Dems start denigrating Israel and spreading antisemitic rumours, whilst trying to suck up to potential Muslim constituents.