Thursday, November 02, 2023

Paul Marshall: The Lib Dem years

Looking back it’s pretty crazy that a highly religious and highly aggressive corporate raider would ever get involved with the Lib Dems. For many years, however, Paul Marshall played a vital role bankrolling the party and he tried to construct an entirely new narrative for us based on a low tax, small state agenda you’d normally associate with Republicans.

That's Matthew Pennell commenting on an article on Marshall and his media ambitions in Saturday's Guardian.

The article reminds us how well connected was Marshall in Liberal and Liberal Democrat circles as a researcher, parliamentary candidate. funder of The Orange Book and Centre Forum (a one-time Lib Dem think tank) and member of Nick Clegg's inner circle in the Coalition years.

Despite all that influence, it's hard to disagree with Matthew Pennell's verdict:

if you look at Marshall’s own set of policies and priorities via his mouthpieces you’d struggle to see his imprint on the party.

I remember The Orange Book as disappointingly dull - I reviewed it for Liberator when it came out - and I also remember how much I disliked its chapter on family policy. This was a collection of Daily Mail cuttings put together to argue that many parents had no idea how to bring up their children.

Paul Marshall was happy to fund politicians who would oppose intervention in big business, but he was all in favour of interfering in the lives of voters.


Anonymous said...

It's not correct to describe Paul Marshall as a Corporate Raider. He runs hedge funds.

Whatever you think of the Orange Book, is it worth remembering that when those ideas were in vogue in the Part we actually got some real power? I totally agree about interference in the lives of voters BTW.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for shining a light on this, just a little postscript. Dick Cavett conducted a series of wonderful interviews on his talk show in the late 1960s and 1970s. This included a number of the biggest showbiz names of the 20th century (many clips can be seen on YouTube). He interviewed his hero, Groucho Marx in 1969. They touched on politics and Marx said, "Isn't it funny how people become right wing when they get rich?" Paul Marshall is embodiment of that.