Clegg Attacks New Labour on Civil Liberties 15


Nick Clegg has launched a major attack on New Labour’s appalling record on civil liberties. This is the first interesting thing anyone in the three main parties has said during this achingly dull campaign.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/13/nick-clegg-liberal-democrats-manifesto

He points out that the notion of liberty does not feature once in New Labour’s entire manifesto. Hardly surprising, given their record, but a telling point nonetheless.

Adam Boulton of Sky News took me aback at New Labour’s manifesto launch by asking a brilliant question, pointing out that Birmingham’s new Private Finance Intiative funded hosptial would cost the taxpayer over £2.5 billion in finance charges to be paid to fatcat bankers over decades. Brown did not answer the question.

Whitehall Gardens remains a general election free zone, with no leaflets delivered and nobody knocking at the door. On Monday i delivered some leaflets in Ealing Common ward for the Lib Dems. I can’t tell you what a good feeling it was to be campaigning for someone who wasn’t me – if only for the chance the candidate might know what they are talking about.

I got into conversation just four times, and by a remarkable chance three of those conversations were in Polish and one in Russian – at least I was speaking bad Russian and I think she was speaking Ukrainian.

Well, for sure none of them was going to vote New Labour. A Polish lady was a Lib Dem, I don’t think the others had heard of us. One Polish man was not going to vote Conservative because he had seen David Cameron talking about gay rights. He looked disbelieving when I explained we didn’t have outright homophobic parties.

Which reminds me that five years ago, I wrote that one day the BNP would wake up to the fact that Eastern European immigration would bring in a lot of white people who are on average much more racist (and homphobic) than the average Brit. I now wonder whether David Cameron’s strange decision to ally in the European Parliament with a group of very far right populist Eastern European parties, had an eye to the unprecedented number of Eastern European origin immigrants who can vote in the UK?

Anyway, a few of them are going to vote Lib Dem now on the mistaken basis that Lib Dems appear able to speak Slavic languages. If we can take Ealing and Acton (not impossible) by two votes, I shall be very proud.


15 thoughts on “Clegg Attacks New Labour on Civil Liberties

  • Matt Keefe

    Nick Clegg is (or rather was, and likely will again be) my constituency MP. He’s a perfectly reasonable one; not one of the really exceptional constituency MPs, his focus clearly being on national party politics, but a perfectly reasonable one all the same.

    I am still not sure I can vote Liberal Democrat (or indeed vote for Clegg himself) on the strength of that. He’s undoubtedly a career politician – he was our MP for just two years before becoming party leader, having been parachuted into the constituency not long before that from the neighbouring European constituency of the East Midlands (and having, so far as I’m aware, no particularly long-standing connection to that part of the country either). I do not believe we are well-served by representatives drawn from a snarrow class of career politicians from what invariably turn out to be rather similar backgrounds; Nick Clegg does seem a more reasonable, perhaps more principled, and more personable example of that class, but still of that class nonetheless and I’m just not convinced that electoral reform (which I am in favour of, in some shape or form) will in itself achieve very much if the candidates on offer continue to be drawn largely from amongst that political class. Nor do I yet see anything in electoral or political reform plans that will widen the field in that regard.

    I was further disappointed by Clegg’s political tactics around the Lisbon Treaty. Calling for a referendum on the whole question of membership instead – as though he’d unearthed some horrendous Europhobic ruse behind all opposition to it, and effectively allowing the very contentious treaty to pass unchallenged as a result – I found disingenuous, unrepresentative and unfair. It wilfully ignored opposition from people like myself who are in favour of the European Union (indeed, I personally believe we should join the euro), who wish to see it improve and increase its influence, and who do not for a second wish to leave it, but who did not wish to see the Lisbon Treaty passed because of the power given by it to national executives and their unelected commissioners within the EU. The move was so very political that I do have to wonder about the sincerity of pledges of fairness when it comes to what goes on inside the House, if and when the Liberal Democrats become a more substantial voice and if, as was the case here, issues being debated and voted upon are particularly beloved of party leadership.

    Ultimately, the fairness of our political system will not be improved by electoral reform alone; indeed, it will not even be advanced by it if it isn’t accompanied by a change in the attitude and behaviour of politicians ?” and that goes for all of them, no matter how well intentioned; there are right things to do, and right ways to do them. I do wish the Liberal Democrats good luck, in many ways, but I am not yet convinced they are bold enough either in their aims, or in their assertion of what will be required to achieve them. The question of political sincerity I am willing to defer, but we mustn’t lose sight of it, whatever the potential we see before us. Otherwise, whatever the result electorally and legislatively, we will simply be voting, via a different method, for the same old frustrating, disingenuous, closed door decision-making.

  • dreoilin

    “Anyway, a few of them are going to vote Lib Dem now on the mistaken basis that Lib Dems appear able to speak Slavic languages.”

    Craig, you do make me hoot sometimes!

  • Abe Rene

    Passing a difficult exam in Russian while preparing for Uzbekistan is evidently now coming in handy. Too bad the New Labour government had to waste such valuable talent as yours – the more fool them, it’s their loss. Go for it!

  • Clark

    Mark Keefe,

    the present system is dreadful. It fails to represent the voters and it doesn’t hold MPs to account. It is also entrenched; the major two parties are not going to introduce a system that gives real power to the voters.

    So we have to work by degrees. That’s why I’m supporting electoral reform and electoral reformers, even if only minor reforms are on offer.

    The “attitude and behaviour of politicians” is also beyound our direct control, short of civil disobedience.

  • Matt Keefe

    I do agree, Clark, which is why I remain to be swayed, but at present I have doubts about the extent to which even the reformers intend to properfly enfranchise the electorate, rather than just to redress the balance of representation within the existing political establishment.

    It’s the easiest thing in the world for the Liberal Democrats to support changes under which they would be, it appears, the biggest winners; it’s somewhat harder to know with certainty how far they will go beyond that. That’s really where my reservations lie.

    Here, in my constituency, Nick Clegg’s own campaign literature encourages tactical voting. In many other constituencies, there is outrage amongst Liberal Democrats that the same tactic is promoted by Labour or the Conservatives. Would-be reformers can blame the present system all they want, but taking the moral high ground before there is any electoral benefit to doing so would be proof to me of sincerity; I’m just not seeing enough of that, and I’m not naturally inclined to take an ‘ends justifies the means’ view of such tactics where used in the name of change.

    And it’s ‘Matt’ rather than ‘Mark’; I couldn’t possibly speak for the other gent.

  • Doug Allanson

    Unless I missed something in the Guardian’s always reliable reporting, Clegg managed to give a speech about civil liberties – hurrah, at last a politician doing so – without once mentioning rendition???

    I realise that Clegg might not want to start his campaign by alienating several million paranoid terrorist-watchers, but its not encouraging.

  • Sac Parliament

    The day after the election, I wonder what you idiots will be feeling while looking at the prospect of 5 years of:

    1) a Tory govt

    2) a Tory.LibDem coalition govt

    3) a NeoLabout/LibDem govt

    4) a Labour govt

    5) a LibDem govt

    I suspect, and I hope you’ll be feeling REALLY BLOOFY STUPID INDEED.

    Dont Vote! Decalre your detachment from this crap. Show the political system for the farce it is. If you vote for these scumbads YOU are responsibility for what they do.

    and F U to the spooks reading this site.

  • MJ

    Sac: the one to fear most is a Lab/Tory/LibDem coalition; the dreaded Government of National Unity.

  • Sac Parliament

    MJ

    I was of course playing the “We believe the politics we see is the politics we get” game. You are actually spot on! No matter what apparent colour/rainbow wins, the tawdry policies will continue unabated dressed with slightly different ribbons and posies. I am amazed at those who conclude there is deep government suddenly flip off their analytical skills and indulge in such absurdity as though the cure is around the corner.

  • angrysoba

    “Dont Vote! Decalre your detachment from this crap. Show the political system for the farce it is. If you vote for these scumbads YOU are responsibility for what they do.”

    I wonder if it ever occurs to these no-vote “dissidents” that the major parties are quite happy to see people stay at home in droves.

    Does it make any sense to say, none of the parties care about me so they will really care if I don’t vote for them?

    It doesn’t. And if there are any “spooks” reading they’re probably tuning in on their lunch break for comic relief.

  • ObiterJ

    Quote – “I now wonder whether David Cameron’s strange decision to ally in the European Parliament with a group of very far right populist Eastern European parties, had an eye to the unprecedented number of Eastern European origin immigrants who can vote in the UK?”

    A politician playing politics! Amazing.

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