A Response to '7 Reasons NOT to Vote for the Liberal Democrats | Callum Gurr

I was not surprised when I opened up Student Voices this week to find an article written by my long-time sparring partner Jimmy Allen outlining his response to Muhammed Hussain’s article ‘7 Reasons why I will be voting Liberal Democrats in June’. As ever, here are some of my responses to Jimmy’s claims:


I found Jimmy’s criticism of Mr Hussain referring to Theresa May’s Brexit plan as pursuing a ‘Hard Brexit’ to be entirely unjustified. To spell it out: ‘Hard’ Brexit refers to leaving the single market, tearing up the rights of British people to live, work and study across the 28 member states freely and not re-joining the European Free Trade Association. I think you will find that Mrs May is planning on doing this, as she outlined in her Brexit white paper, so Muhammed is correct to ascertain that the Liberal Democrats are the only major party (i.e. above 5% in most polls) that are committed to opposing a ‘Hard Brexit’ and offering the British people a referendum on the exit deal.

Votes for 16 and 17 year olds

Jimmy is completely incorrect to assert that because 18-24 year olds have the lowest voter turnout that we should deny 16 and 17 year olds their right to have a say over the future of this country. If 16 and 17 year olds can marry, join the armed forces and have sexual intercourse then they have a right to vote, turnout does not come into it. I would agree with Jimmy however that low voter turnout is a problem, but such problems will be fixed through proper education and giving young people a reason to believe their vote makes a difference (change the voting system, perhaps?), not by denying 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote
Strong Protection of Rights

Jimmy suggested that the Conservatives would replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights incorporating everything that is ‘necessary’ from the former. My issue with that is what the Conservatives will consider ‘necessary’ in that process. Given that I don’t see many people demonstrating for their human rights to be reduced, I’m not quite sure what the Conservatives have in mind and why it is necessary in the first place. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. 

House of Lords

Later in the article Jimmy suggests that the Liberal Democrats did not push for further House of Lords reform whilst in coalition, but he can’t have forgotten the House of Lords Reform Bill of 2012 surely?

On the point of Liberal Democrats defending the unelected European Commission and Presidents I’d point out to Jimmy that we do not do this. We are clear that we want to stay in the European Union and reform it to address the real ‘democratic deficit’, but just as we aren’t calling for a Liberal breakaway state to escape from the unelected House of Lords, we aren’t calling for the United Kingdom to break away from the unelected European Commission. You must be in the club to change the club, we’ve consistently argued this point.


On Jimmy’s grammar school’s point we’d be re-running an old debate on Student Voices between Jimmy and I, but Jimmy knows that the reason the Liberal Democrats oppose grammar schools is because we don’t buy into the myth that they do not discriminate in selection based upon wealth.

Can you believe what they say?

I’ll accept tuition fees were a mistake, and that we made few policy volte-face whilst in government. But comparing the coalition government to today’s government, it doesn’t take a genius to see the difference the Liberal Democrats made in reining in the Conservatives. But if we must talk about U-turns whilst in government, I’d say neither Labour nor the Tories have a great record on that themselves. Of course, that doesn’t make it right, but the difference is the Conservatives and Labour’s U-turn’s could have been helped, given they had majorities in parliament, whereas the Liberal Democrats backs were against the wall being the minority partner in government.

Tim Farron

Jimmy attacks Tim Farron for looking like Helga from ‘Hey Arnold’ (I don’t know who that is either), which I struggle to see how that relates to Tim’s ability as a leader. On the point regarding Tim’s views on being gay and gay sex, I’d point out that Tim has clarified that he believes neither to be sinful acts, and he has been stellar at campaigning on LGBT+ rights since he became leader.

If Jimmy does not believe people should vote the Liberal Democrats then I respect his right to hold that view, but what I expect in return is any criticisms of the party or its representatives to be substantiated in fact. Unfortunately, Jimmy’s article failed to meet my expectations.  

Callum Gurr is a writer for Student Voices and student at the University of Birmingham Twitter: @callumgurr
A Response to '7 Reasons NOT to Vote for the Liberal Democrats | Callum Gurr A Response to '7 Reasons NOT to Vote for the Liberal Democrats | Callum Gurr Reviewed by Student Voices on 17:10 Rating: 5

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