Jeremy Browne: Lib Dems are now a pointless party, says former minister

The former Home Office Minister of State lost his ministerial post in last year's reshuffle

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Indy Politics

A senior Liberal Democrat has suggested the direction of the party is pointless and that voters have difficulty in understanding what relevance it has.

Jeremy Browne, who lost his ministerial post in the October reshuffle, criticised Nick Clegg for losing his “clarity and definition as a liberal politician” and for making compromises that leave him “in political no man’s land”.

Mr Browne was once one of Mr Clegg’s strongest supporters but in recent months their relationship has been strained.

He has now launched an attack in which he says that under Mr Clegg the Liberal Democrats’ main role has been to dilute opponents’ ideas rather than come up with ambitious policies of its own.

He said in an interview that all parties and politicians need to be able to answer why they should be invented if they didn’t exist. He went on: “I’m not sure it would be necessary to invent an ill-defined moderating centrist party that believed that its primary purpose was to dilute the policies of other political parties, whereas I do think it would be necessary to invent a bold, ambitious liberal party.”

The former Home Office Minister of State maintained that being in Coalition has “blurred” Mr Clegg’s distinctiveness as a “natural liberal”.

“It disappoints me when he makes a virtue of being the brake within the government rather than the accelerator, that he sells himself as the figure who stops change happening rather than being a person who has a dynamic, restless appetite for positive change,” he told The Times.

“He thinks he has to meet his detractors halfway in political no man’s land. As a result of that, he has less clarity and definition as a liberal politician than I think he would otherwise have had, and I think we as a party have less clarity and definition as well.

“A lot of people who might quite like the Lib Dems they see in their locality have a difficulty getting what the Lib Dems stand for and why they are relevant.”