Not Very Liberal 129


I received – along with other party members – a rather stalinist email from someone called Baroness Scott, President of the Liberal Democrats. Somebody should explain to her the meaning of each of the words in the party title, because her email said this:

We have all worked hard and for that I thank you – my travels around the country showed me just how much everyone has put in. We have achieved this not only due to that effort, but also by sticking to our fairness message. In order for us to maximise our chances of delivering our fairness agenda we now have to keep this discipline up, avoiding speculation as to what happens next.

Baroness Ros Scott

President of the Liberal Democrats.

By “speculation” she evidently means open and democratic discussion of what the party should no next. We can’t have that, can we Ros? All those people whose hard work you applaud are just meant to put the highheidyins in power. They are not supposed to have opinions on what is done with that power, or if they do they should keep them quiet.

“Discipline”, eh? Not a word culled from the Liberal lexicon, really.

One of the more depressing moments of the election for me was when that rather nice independent doctor from Kidderminster was replaced by – a Tory hedge fund manager. A representative of the most socially useful of professions replaced by a member of a profession which is parasitic and socially damaging. It seemed to sum things up, somehow.

There is a fundamental ideological divide between liberals and conservatives. That is part of the weft of British history. I can see no firm grounds for a joint government with the nasty party, or what John Stuart Mill dubbed the stupid party. I have seen no evidence so far that Cameron has offered any compromise on any policy with which the Conservatives were not essentially in agreement anyway, while insisting that the Lib Dems go along with Tory policy on matters like Trident and immigration.

Pace Ros Scott, there is no point in pretending that the Lib Dems do not have their own internal divisions. The truth is that Nick Clegg is personally less removed from the Tories than a great many Lib Dems, while the militarist wing headed by Paddy and bomber Ming will see advantages in a coalition with the Tories in overcoming internal opposition to the neo-imperial agenda.

I am not any more enamoured of a coalition with New Labour. Apart ftom Gove and a few others, most of the Conservatives are traditional conservatives, whereas Blair created New Labour as neo-conservative, which is altogether more objectionable. I view the New Labour leadership as war criminals tainted by torture. Let them rot.

A electoral reform referendum offered to the people by New Labour might well be lost just because of New Labour’s unpopularity. That would set back electoral reform for another 30 years.

The Lib Dems are not obliged to enter a coalition with anyone. Let us stay in opposition. Cameron can form a minority gvernment with DUP support. I still expect he can find a Sean Woodward or two to cross the follor for the sake of office. There are enough unprinicpled careerists in New Labour. Let Cameron stumble on for a couple of years, then let us reap the benefit when he falls. If the Lib Dems enter any coalition, they will face electoral disaster next time.

Amusingly, Sky News just interviewed someone in LibDem offices in Cheltenham who said “I am not going pontificating about what Nick Clegg should do. That’s up to the party leadership”. Ros Scott should be happy that someone reads her emails and is terrifically disciplined.

I had never come across Eric Lubbock’s blog, which is peculiar. Eric is a real Liberal, and wonderful campaigner on human rights and development issues worldwide.

http://ericavebury.blogspot.com/

UPDATE

Having just seen a papers review on TV, it is striking that precisely those newspaper groups which launched the most furious and concerted election attack on the Lib Dems, are now urging that they join the Tories in government. That in itself should signal that it is a very bad idea for the Lib Dems.


129 thoughts on “Not Very Liberal

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  • Clark

    Craig,

    I find this argument convincing. The 1974 coalition certainly did the Liberals no long-term favours. And you’re quite right, disciplining Liberals should be as effective as herding cats, and Democrats should act democratically.

  • tony_opmoc

    In my squeaky little mouse kind of way I am trying to say – we are down here and we too are humans and can speak

    Tony

  • Ellie

    Agree whole heartedly with Craig’s likening us to herding cats. Like any good democratic outlet, suppressing discussion should be impossible

    As for a coalition with the Tories to deliver a “stable” government, they appear to be tearing themselves apart already. Can’t say I’m sorry.

    Incidentally, some have criticized us for reacting badly to Nick’s negotiations with Cameron because this is the sort of getting along with others we will have to do if we get our wish of electoral reform. It seems to me that getting a rainbow coalition to work would certainly lay that ghost to rest. Isn’t it worth a bash for that reason?

    Also, we shouldn’t base our decision on who to work closely with based on what the party has been in the past, we should base our decision on what it will be in the future. We have a far better chance of helping those within the party who would like to see an end to the bad old days of Nu Labour if we join with them now.

  • kathz

    Fortunately it seems to be impossible to suppress discussion – I was delighted to see the demonstrators in favour or proportional representation.

    In the necessary arguments about what happens now, it’s vital to remember the shambles at some polling stations (running out of ballot papers and sending voters away, illegally turning away voters without polling cards, omission of registered voters from the register, queues which in some case meant that voters waited two or three hours before being turned away and denied their vote). Combined with the fraud investigations into postal votes in several constituencies, there’s an urgent need to address a crisis which undermines democracy, if it doesn’t destroy it entirely.

    So what does it all cost? The translation into financial terms is fascinating:

    A voter denied a vote is probably entitled to £750 compensation.

    It costs £5,000 to challenge the result of an election, even if there’s a prima facie case that it was reached illegally. (This amount is refunded if the challenge is won.)

    Nick Clegg’s current price on eBay seems to have stalled at £999,999 – it seems that no-one is prepared to go over the million mark. See http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290433096884#ht_500wt_1182

  • brian

    To paraphrase El Presidente:

    Time for you plebs to shut up now, while your lords and masters put together a blue-blood stitch up.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Craig, if the LDs do join in a Coalition with the Tories, will you leave the Party? I think a lot of ordinary LDs will be disgusted and will leave the Party. Remember that the Conservative Party of today is not that of Harold MacMillan/ Rab Butler/ Ian MacLeod.

  • Julian

    “There is a fundamental ideological divide between liberals and conservatives”

    That may be so for the politician, but I don’t think it’s the case with the voters. Many Conservative voters are quite taken with some Lib Dem policies. e.g. The £10,000 tax threshold for one. I don’t think that represents an ideological divide. What about opposition to ID cards? A lot of agreement there too.

    Also, when you refer to the nasty party or the stupid party, what are you saying about the 10.7 million people who voted for the Tories? They’re certainly not all rich and privileged. Are they all nasty or stupid? There are more than half as many again as voted for the Lib Dems. I suspect there is a complete ideological spectrum between beard and sandals Liberals and upper class twit Tories, but most are in the middle.

    That seems reasonable grounds for some sort of agreement.

    Perhaps you should come out of your political bubble and meet some real people for whom party allegiance and ideology are not the be all and end all.

  • Chris Marsden

    Clegg will be making the mistake of the century if he enters coalition – we should pull the plug on the Tories after 2 Budgets, next spring.

    Craig – have you heard about the evangelicals who stopped Evan Harris in Oxford West? Apparently it was pro-lifers and others who flocked there to elect the Tory (though they of course failed in Sutton & Cheam).

    Significant?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    You’re right, Julian. I know a lot (well, some) wonderful Conservatives who are ‘old-style’ conservatives – like old-style C of E vicars – not ideologues, esp. in local politics. But the Party as a national organisational and political entity has moved far to the Right over the past 35 years. The dominant people are forceful right-wing ideologues. I think people like the ones I mentioned above (and in my last post) would be shocked at today’s Conservative Party.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Chris, that’s exactly an illustration of what I mean. Economically and philosophically, the Conservative Party does have more in common with the Hard Right in Europe and the rightwing of the Republican Party in the USA than it did in the past.

    And how in the name of… was Thatcher/ Major less statist and oppressive than the Labour Government? The Labour Govt merely continued in this Conservative (misnomer; Rightwing authoritarian would be more accurate) trajectory.

  • Leo

    Wouldn’t this kind of “working with the enemy” thing be the norm if we actually got PR?

    (PR is not the only form of electoral reform, of course. It annoys me that almost all people and reporting act as if it is when things like STV would also make things far fairer (and put an end to anti-democratic tactical voting). Personally, I’d be happy with PR or STV, but people should not be allowed to use objections to PR to dismiss electoral reform entirely.)

    Anyway, it’s fine for the LibDems to say that certain issues are deal-breakers if the Tories want to form a coalition.

    The LibDems certainly should not hand power to the Tories without getting something substantial back in return. Electoral reform is the thing our country needs the most. (And not an inquiry or referendum on electoral reform but an actual, legal commitment to some form of it. Anything else *would* be weaselled out of or sabotaged by Murdoch.)

    Electoral Reform is also not in the Tories’ interests. The left (including pseudo-left, like Labour) is far more divided than the right.

    So I will fully support the LibDems if they reject the Tory offer because it doesn’t give them electoral reform.

    I cannot, however, support the idea that the LibDems should never, under any circumstances, work with the Tories. I hate the Tory party but if we’re asking for things like PR, and yet refusing to work with people we disagree with, then that seems like cognitive dissonance.

  • lwtc247

    This is typical of party politics Craig because party politics is significantly anti-democratic.

    The party gets empowerment from the grass roots as was the case on Thursday. After that, the party tries to cut-loose, saying things like “You have spoken” (as if we were only allowed to speak once), or “we have accepted your mandate to govern”. I’m sure yourselves can recall similar expressions attempting to distance the party from the supporters who do NOT want to be disengaged by the party machine. It happens in many walks of life where power is wielded by just the few, and when it comes to things like war and graft, it gets deadly serious!

    who here thought of their vote as a penitential shot at having the ‘right’ to determine an general arc of direction that they lives over the next five years? More importantly perhaps, who is satisfied by that?

    Was it really our intention to mandate what would resemble in many ways a 5 year dictatorship? Why should we accept that? Who has the right to set up that condition? Is that “democracy”, or the level of democracy that we want?

    Likely, Clegg sees this as his ONLY his best chance of power. Surely Clegg or anyone else didn’t believe a poll following a presidential style debate showing how well they did in that debate would actually mirror the GE. Surely nobody looked at that one variable to the exclusivity of the remaining ocean of variables.

    Clegg will NOT turn down this opportunity and forve Cameron into a minority govt, but of course he should.

    Here’s the latest bulletin from Matthias Chang…

    /////

    Edmund Conway, the Economics Editor of the Telegraph, UK revealed that the American economist, David Hale had met with Mervyn King and that the latter confided that, “whoever wins this election will be out of power for a whole generation because of how tough the fiscal austerity will have to be.”

    Edmund Conway went on to paint this ghastly future for his country:

    “… no-one yet comprehends just how tough the next five years will be. For obvious reasons: we have not experienced anything like it in our lifetimes. We have been insulated from the full pain of the financial/economic crisis so far by unprecedented low interest rates and by the bank bail-outs. At some point, the anaesthetic will wear off and we will face a period of austerity that may well make the ruling party so unpopular that it effectively becomes unelectable for decades. There will be strikes; there will be stagnation; there will probably be a double dip of some variety. But this time the pain will be unmistakably imposed by the politicians.”

    To read more, please go to http://www.futurefastforward.com

    /////

    On the looming austerity, Ian Hislop said something interesting on election night, like “why not share the horribleness?”. Cameron will try and blame the Lib Dems for the Camerons failings. The Cons are not even conceding much ground on PR. An all party investigation of the issues of PR is a stalling tactic. The Cons will be feverishly watching the polls. When/if they go up in the polls, druggie Dave will try and collapse the coalition and try and win the election. As a new PM (and Balls/Milibend as Labour leader would pose no great challenge methinks) Cameron would be in a strengthened position.

    Clegg will gain nothing from a Con alliance. And the way his praise pacified the crowd without a hint of what was being discussed was quite masterful, so I think Clegg is going to collapse talks with the Tories and form a difficult govt with the much weakened Brown.

    Of course this is conventional analysis, and Clegg WILL soon have the blood of innocents on his hands when he continues the wars against people in their own lands bravely fighting off Imperial scum.

  • Fluellen

    This election was the first time I voted for the Lib Dems. If they support a Tory government it will also be the last time I vote for the Lib Dems.

    Sorry Plaid, I still quite fancy you, and will probably give you my vote next time.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yes, politicians of all stripes cooperate with one another on many things all the time – we don’t hear much about it, but that’s the norm of everyday interaction in the House of Commons, the Scottish Parliament and at local level throughout the country. That’s not the point. The point is whether one party is willing to enter into government with another and in my view, the LDs would be foolish to do so with the Conservatives.

  • mary

    This is what the Greeks are facing. Coming our way soon?

    This is the sort of scenario we are facing who ever takes over.

    The BBC reports that as part of the IMF/ EU bailout Greek leaders are proposing the following measures:

  • mary

    Marr’s guests on BBC 1 now are guess who Lord Pantsdown and the execrable Gove.

    Those ‘selected’ to review the Sunday papers (who the hell buys them anyway?) are

    Lady Helena Kennedy (Lab peer)

    Matthew Paris (was a Con MP/now Murdoch footsoldier)

    Rory Bremner (for the comedy angle)

    Off out for a walk in the drizzle. The dog won’t mind it.

  • technicolour

    Write off public debt. Enforce corporate taxation. Stop subsidies to the UK arms trade…no, better still, freeze pensions and cut the public sector.

    ?

  • Ruth

    It seems to me the parties are putting on a really good show for the public this weekend. I’ve no doubt the outcome will have been decided weeks if not months ago.

    Hague’s letter is part of the plot.

  • lwtc247

    lol at marys post 9:10am

    Funny how the govt austerity measures hardly nudge their way into the private sector. Kinda shows you who’s really in control.

  • ScouseBilly

    lwtc247 at May 9, 2010 9:46 AM

    The private sector has been suffering austerity for some considerable time.

    The problem is we can barely support our selves let alone a burgeoning public sector.

    If the Tories will accept Lib-Dem tax reforms, specifically taking the first £10k earnings out of tax (& NI), that would be a boone to small businesses.

    I would go further and take the public sector out of tax. Pay teachers, doctors, police, civil servants net. Just a thought.

  • the_leander

    “Let us stay in opposition.”

    In related news, the markets (you remember them, the things that we are now pretty much the only thing stopping us from following Greece) tanked at the threat of a minority government.

    I doubt very much that the libdems would do nearly as well as they did this time around if they were seen to be the ones scuppering a functional government.

    I voted libdem both for the national and local elections and am proud of it. But people need to wake up to the fact we all will be neck deep in it if those markets crap out. Folks need to see the bigger picture here. Sure, yank support once things are on course if you must and force a new election. But pulling a stunt like this right now could leave us in a state not unlike Russia under Yeltsin. We cannot afford another election right now.

  • ScouseBilly

    An interesting post from captainsherlock:

    Becket Miliband Dark Actors in BBC Dr. Kelly Snuff Film

    James:

    We believe that Dr. David Kelly threatened to expose the ‘dark actors’ behind the 2001 outbreak of UK foot and mouth disease and attacks of 9/11, and, to protect the ‘Wag the Dog’ actors, Margaret Becket and David Miliband bought a carbon-offset contract on Dr. Kelly from the BBC World Service to be paid on delivery of a snuff film as proof of his death..

    “The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom in 2001 caused a crisis in British agriculture and tourism. Over 10 million sheep and cattle were killed in an eventually successful attempt to halt the disease. Cumbria was the worst affected area of the country, with 843 cases .. By the time the disease was halted by October 2001, the crisis was estimated to have cost the United Kingdom £8bn ($16bn). On 8 April 2001 the Sunday Express reported that a test-tube of the virus had been stolen from a lab at Porton Down in Wiltshire 2 months before the crisis. The paper claims to have seen documents confirming sheep in Wales with the disease as early as January. It was suggested .. that Animal Rights activists may have stolen the virus, however this is unlikely since it is a Level 4 bio-weapons facility and therefore guarded by the military”

    “After the 2001 general election, [Margaret] Beckett became Secretary of State at the new Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, created after the old Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was abolished in the wake of perceived mismanagement of the foot and mouth disease epidemic in 2001. The new department also incorporated some of the functions of the former Department for Transport, Environment and the Regions (DETR), and was known by its initials, “DEFRA”.”

    “In 1994 Miliband became Tony Blair’s Head of Policy and was a major contributor to Labour’s manifesto for the 1997 general election. After Labour’s victory in that election, Blair made him the de facto Head of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit, a position which he held until the 2001 election .. Following Labour’s third consecutive election victory in May 2005, he was promoted to the Cabinet as Minister of State for Communities and Local Government within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister .. On 5 May 2006 following the local elections Tony Blair made a major cabinet reshuffle in which Miliband replaced Margaret Beckett as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Miliband has said he believes agriculture is important for the UK’s cultural heritage, economy and society and also for the environment. He has said disease control should be balanced with animal welfare .. Miliband is an advocate for international awareness of climate change and believes the cooperation of all nations is needed for environmental reform .. He believes EU should go further in two areas: a low carbon global economy and global action on climate change .. By switching over to a low carbon economy, he plans to tackle climate change. He .. announced the Government’s plans to legislate for carbon reductions at the United Nations General Assembly.”

    Our research suggests that Becket or Miliband ordered the Kelly snuff film through Sarah Jones, then head of the BBC in-house legal department and a former employee of Magic Circle law firm Allen & Overy, a carbon-offset broker with the Legal Sector Alliance.

    “Before we get into the latest astonishing developments, here is a quick summary of who Dr. Kelly was and what happened to him: 1. Dr. David Kelly worked for the Ministry of Defense/U.K. as an expert in bio-weapons. He was also one of the key UN weapons inspectors in Iraq. 2. He became concerned about the US/UK claims of WMD in Iraq in the build-up to the Iraq war in 2003. Much the same way that former US Ambassador Joseph Wilson became concerned about US claims of yellowcake uranium purchases by Iraq from Niger. Like Wilson, Dr. Kelly became an anonymous source for a journalist. In Kelly’s case, he met with BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan. 3. The MoD leaked Kelly’s identity (just like Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity was leaked) to the press. 4. A Parliamentary committee tasked with investigating the planted intelligence on Iraq asked Kelly to testify, which he did. 5. Several days after his testimony and while preparing for a trip with his wife, Dr. Kelly was found dead in a park nearby his home, which was ruled a suicide. On the day he “committed suicide” he had sent an email to New York Times reporter Judith Miller in which he said “many dark actors playing games.” 6. Leading physicians and first responders who arrived at the park and inspected Kelly’s body did not think he committed suicide, even going so far as to sue the British government to prove their case.”

    “Dr David Kelly was befriended by Mrs Mai Pederson, an undercover US intelligence agent. Dr Kelly, a leading weapons expert, was found dead by police in the woods near his home after being named as the insider who spoke to journalists about the lies told by the UK and US governments to justify the invasion of Iraq. Mrs Pederson was “one of the very first people to know that Dr Kelly’s body had been found.” As a US military intelligence spy, Master Sergeant Mai Pederson was trained to attach to people identified as targets, befriend them, gain their trust, infiltrate their life, and then exploit them as directed by her superiors. She was a specialist in seducing male targets. Her husband, US Air Force Sergeant Mr Jim Pederson, described his wife’s standard mode of operation: “She has always been a spook of one kind or another. She is invaluable in this job because she doesn’t look as though she’s in military intelligence. She goes to interrogate someone and she’s tiny and beautiful, and she flirts with them, and just sits down and chats. Before they know it they’ve told her all sorts of stuff.” As well as basic combat skills, Mrs Pederson’s training as a spy and assassin would have included sophisticated cover-up techniques, and in particular how to make murder look like suicide. As Mr Pederson boasted: “She was proficient with a gun and basic unarmed combat and worked under-cover for long periods ?” called TDA for Temporary Duty Attachments ?” in Egypt and, I believe, Iran. She was a very complex character.”

    “Evidence relating to the death of Government weapons inspector David Kelly is to be kept secret for 70 years, it has been reported. Dr Kelly’s body was found in woods close to his Oxfordshire home in 2003, shortly after it was revealed that he was the source of a BBC report casting doubt on the Government’s claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction capable of being fired within 45 minutes. An inquest was suspended by then Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, who ruled that Lord Hutton’s inquiry could take its place. But in the event, the inquiry focused more on the question of how the BBC report came to be broadcast than on the medical explanation for Dr Kelly’s death.” .. No credible expert believes that Kelly killed himself. Yet Lord Hutton continues to not only force the suicide claims down the throats of the medical experts who examined Kelly’s body and of the British public, he has also now sealed all of the records. If Kelly killed himself, then why are the medical records being sealed?”

    They can run but they cannot hide .. http://abeldanger.blogspot.com/

  • Ishmael

    why do people rant on about the same things on forums but do nothing more. If you feel like that create controversy. I thought Libbys would have a restraining effect on tory plans.

    Read Tenet’s 13 Feb 2003, report, first 2 pages. Has no one picked this up yet?

  • the_leander

    “I thought Libbys would have a restraining effect on tory plans.”

    That’s pretty much how I saw it – The Torys prepared to make savage cuts in order to save the economy, tempered by the even hand of the libdems to protect as much as possible the people who work within it.

    In many ways I saw a Tory/Libdem pact to be the best possible outcome.

    Given what I’ve read from many on the libdem side, I’m half expecting some people to start bleating about “betrayal” and breaking off to form their own sub parties…

  • the_leander

    @ScouseBilly

    Having looked through all I see is a lot of claims that have no backup. None of which have anything to do with the topic of this particular blogpost.

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