Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Jeremy Browne to stand down as an MP

Jeremy Browne, the Lib Dem former Home Office minister, has just announced that he is to stand down as an MP at the general election:
This may be because Taunton Deane would have been difficult to hold, though I understand the MP’s own private polling had told him that he was on course to win. A lot of people are saying this is a great loss to the Liberal Democrats. In a long-term sense it is because this MP had a sincere long-term vision for a liberal Liberal Democrat party that made a big pitch to voters beyond simply offering to modify the other main parties. But Browne had been sidelined by the leadership, who considered his ‘global race’ post that he wrote for this blog such a betrayal that it factored in Nick Clegg’s decision to sack him. His criticisms of the leadership once he had left government were not heeded, and while he was a popular speaker at fringes and dinners, it was becoming clear that this MP was a maverick voice, rather than someone who could immediately change things. The increasingly vocal liberal wing of the Lib Dems may mourn his departure, but he may well have concluded from his party’s conference which didn’t just feature the very pitch that he dislikes from Clegg but also activists creating a rather statist and not particularly liberal football policy that he wasn’t going to get much traction. Browne was one of the MPs that Nick Boles cited when he suggested a National Liberal Party. That didn’t go well for Boles – and Browne’s increasingly robust and vocal defence of Liberalism hasn’t gone well either as he has concluded that ‘in national politics my race is run’. Liberals are clearly going to have to be a lot more creative if they want to win influence.

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Isabel Hardman
Written by
Isabel Hardman
Isabel Hardman is assistant editor of The Spectator and author of Why We Get the Wrong Politicians. She also presents Radio 4’s Week in Westminster.

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