Thursday, February 02, 2006

There is no Lib Dem Orange Order

Andrew Pierce's story in The Times, which I discussed earlier this evening, makes free use of the term "Orange Bookers" to describe the ambitious group of MPs supporting the Campbell campaign.

But that is nonsense. The Orange Book authors included Mark Oaten, and he always intended to stand for the leadership himself. They also include Steve Webb, who is supporting Simon Hughes, Susan Kramer, who is supporting Chris Huhne, and Huhne himself.

It was notable that another of the authors, Paul Marshall, was reported - again by The Times - to be ready to withdraw his funding from the party if Simon Hughes became leader. But if there is an organised Orange Book group behind Menzies Campbell, it contains only a few of the authors.

Besides, the essays in the Orange Book were a more mixed collection than is often thought. I argued this in my review in Liberator when it first came out, and the same line has since been taken by Iain Sharpe and Joe Otten.

So the term "Orange Bookers" does not appeal. Is Pierce taking the pith?


Anonymous said...

I have not yet made my mind up about the Leadership, but one thing is clear - I will not be persuaded by threats from what a few rich people are reported to have said. We are an independent and democratic party, and must not be used as the playtings of a handful of fat cats, like two other parties have become.

Gareth Epps said...

Paul Marshall's comments are a disgrace and bring the Party into disrepute.

The 'Orange Bookers' phrase is a media fantasy (or, given the author, a Tory fantasy) and belie a more complicated set of relationships between about 3 different groups within the Liberal Democrats:
1) Those who generally strongly favour economic liberalism, want tactically to move the party in the direction of the Tories and want its language to reflect that fact (I would include 3-4 authors including Marshall);
2) 'Thinkers' who do generally want to talk of the key policy issues in 'modern' terms but with a careful balance of economic and social Liberalism (this probably includes people like Chris Huhne, Nick Clegg and Susan Kramer)
3) Others who can't be categorised neatly such as Steve Webb who is now doing a v good job at Health, Oaten... and Ed Davey whose chapter was basically a reiteration of party policy.