TIM FARRON botched his bid to woo Labour voters and MPs to the Lib Dems this weekend by describing some of Thatcher’s most divisive acts as “undoubtedly necessary.
The Lib Dem leader used his conference speech on Saturday to make an “unashamed land grab” on Labour ground.
Speaking in Bournemouth, Mr Farron claimed Labour had taken an “1980s nostalgia trip” by electing Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
He claimed it left the Lib Dems as the “credible progressive alternative” to the Tories.
“I am nostalgic for my youth but I am not nostalgic for those Labour economic policies which created the space for Margaret Thatcher to win in the first place and which kept her in power for a decade,” he said.
The speech came days after he claimed to have been contacted by Labour MPs disappointed by Mr Corbyn’s election as leader.
It was designed to further stir up division within Labour with a view to sparking “dozens” of defections to the Lib Dems.
But Nick Clegg’s supposedly left-of-centre successor will have alienated many in the Labour movement by defending Thatcher’s attacks on trade unions and privatisations.
Mr Farron remembered that Thatcher had “created mass unemployment” and “sowed the seeds of division and separation.”
In an unashamed volte face, he added: “Some of what Mrs Thatcher did then was undoubtedly necessary.
“She was very good at tearing things down — the over-wielding power of the union bosses, old-fashioned industrial practices stuck in the past, public-sector monoliths removed from the people they served.”
Shadow cabinet minister Chris Bryant was among Labour MPs to dash Mr Farron’s defection hopes yesterday, saying he “wouldn’t jump shop for all the tea in China (and India).”
And the Lib Dems should be more worried about defections from them to Labour, according to peer and Lib Dem member Baroness Tonge.
The former MP for Richmond Park described Mr Corbyn’s “honest” politics as “a breath of fresh air.”
“I know that lots of Lib Dems are contemplating supporting Jeremy Corbyn, including me,” she told the Sunday Times.
The Lib Dems boasted this weekend that their membership had risen to more than 61,000 — fewer than the number of people who have joined Labour since Mr Corbyn was elected leader last weekend.