Thursday 29 May 2014

Liberal Democrats fratch like rats in a sack, aided and abetted by the Guardian.

On the theory that "no publicity is bad publicity" I'd have been delighted in most of my years as a Liberal/ Liberal Democrat to see us leading the news even on one day, never mind on four consecutive days, simply because at last someone was taking notice of us.  Some fifty years (longer for some) of toiling on the fringes of the political vineyard at last brought those days to an end at the beginning of this century and I  still get a mild thrill when I read or hear references in the media to "the three major parties.  That is my generation's achievement.

It is unfortunate that, after many years when "power" has been confined to local councils, we at last break into national government the "wrong lot,"*  from the economic point of view, happen to be at the top of the party, though put there legitimately by our very democratic party processes.

Current talk of changing the leader is pointless, rather like changing the label on a bottle but still flogging the same "snake oil" contents.  David Laws (our original number 2 at the Treasury) and  Danny Alexander are just as complicit in kow-towing to the Tory economic dogma as is Clegg, if not more so,  and Vince Cable is by no means simon pure.  The truth is admirably expressed by this letter which appeared in yesterday's Guardian:

• Lib Dems don't need a change of leader. We need a change of policies and direction. This starts with a total repudiation of the backdoor Tory war on the poor, waged through austerity and so-called welfare "reform".
We need to return to traditional policies and approach, pioneered by Lloyd George and Beveridge, Keynes and Jenkins, Gladstone and Grimond.
We don't need a new manifesto. We have excellent programmes from 2005 and 2010; Nick Clegg advocated these with great skill and eloquence just four years ago. He must do so again as we return to our true principles and beliefs.
Jonathan Hunt
Convener, LibsLeft; chair, Camberwell & Peckham local party.

The following letter, from me, was, alas, not published::

 Come off it, Guardian. On your front page last Saturday you report that, on the basis of the voting for the local elections "it was estimated last night  that this would translate  into ...45 (parliamentary seats) for the Lib Dems."  Although I feel the estimate is on the generous side it hardly justifies today's headline "Clegg taking Lib Dems to wipeout."  Don't even your headline writers believe your own reporters?

Today they report that estimates suggest we'll retain 30 seats, still a long way off "wipeout."  Probably something in between is the reality, providing the dissidents shut up and give both Nick and our traditional policies the support they both deserve.

*  Wrong only in the area of economic policy. There's much more to Liberalism, and even politics, than economics, and I'm sure these people are very sound on other Liberal values such as internationalism, human rights, tolerance of minorities and their rights, enthusiasm (sic) for Europe, and, of course, proportional representation by single transferable vote in multimember constituencies.


  1. "I still get a mild thrill when I read or hear references in the media to "the three major parties"

    The only snag is that these days they probably mean Con, Lab and UKIP ...

  2. Oh dear, you're so right, for the time being at any rate.

    Although most of the pundits seem to think the Ukip phenomenon will last I'm not so sure. As other have found out (SDP, BNP) it takes a lot of effort to build up a permanent presence. I give them two years: long enough of course to upset a few apple-carts in May 2015.

    My money is on the Greens. At one time I thought we might achieve a credible fusion: their idealism and our credibility. That little aspiration has taken a bit of a knock.

  3. So long as we continue to allow Nick Clegg to stay as leader, he will continue to destroy our chances of ever recovering. I'm afraid anyone who believes that a man who drives his MPs to vote through Secret Courts Legislation, against the wishes of Conference (twice voted against) is neither a Liberal nor a democrat.

  4. I don't see much point in changing the leader. For better or worse I think there is collective responsibility, at least among the "top five" who are cabinet ministers, for what we have done in government. Nick is as good a spokesperson as, probably better than, any of the others. From what I hear of his London radio phone-in he seems to come over very well. His mistake is probably to surround himself with too many acolytes who are still we behind the ears.