Tag Archives: Liberal Democrats

Time for Nick Clegg to go?

Now that they’ve had a big enough bite of the reality sandwich to go down with severe food poisoning, one or two Liberal Democrats are finally starting to get it. As reported in The Guardian.

In a sign that unease is spreading to normally loyal MPs, Sir Nick Harvey, who was sacked as a defence minister in a reshuffle in 2012, called on the party to put more distance between the Lib Dems and the Tories.

Harvey told The World at One on BBC Radio 4: “There is a perception on the part of voters that we have got ourselves too embroiled with the Conservatives. When they look at things like the NHS changes, Michael Gove out on adventures in the education field; when they look at some of the more draconian benefit cuts, people are asking themselves if there is a point having the Lib Dems in the government. Surely it is to stop some of these things happening.

“We must be willing to say no to the Tories more. When you have a coalition between a larger party and a smaller one it is difficult for the small party to make the larger party do things it doesn’t want to do. But it should be relatively easy to stop it from doing things we don’t want it to do. That does mean that we need to be more willing to say no.”

Yes, Nick Clegg. Nick Harvey has correctly identified why this previously lifelong Liberal Democrat (and Liberal before that) voter supported The Greens in this election. Privatising the NHS, Gove’s reactionary philistinism and the petty vindictiveness of Ian Duncan-Smith’s benefit changes are anathema to the sorts of people who have traditionally voted for your party.

Over to you…

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Don’t Disengage, Vote Smarter

Russell Brand is wrong. We’ve got a terrible crisis of democratic legitimacy in Britain at the moment, but the solution isn’t to disengage with electoral politics altogether. Instead we need to re-engage and take back democracy from the elites who have subverted and captured it.

What we desperately need is a forward-looking, self-confident and strongly non-sectarian left in Britain. I don’t believe we need another new party; all that would achieve would be to split the vote and benefit the right. But we do need noisy and influential factions in both the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties to drag them away from being part of the beige dictatorship. Yes, both parties are badly compromised by past and present alliances, Labour with Tony Blair’s complicity in George W Bush’s war crimes, and the Liberals for enabling the worst of the Tories war on the poor, the disabled, the young and the old. But both parties need to be taken back from the faceless technocrats who have sold their parties to the Devil, and some of the present leadership needs to be put to the sword.

One thing we need to ask all candidates from all parties is this. “Would you ever vote against your own party on a point of principle, and if so, what principle do you hold that are inviolable”. If they answer “No” to that question, they do not deserve anybody’s vote, especially yours. We do not want or need machine politicians who make obedient lobby-fodder; backbench revolts are the stuff from which democracy is made. Vote for someone who will be the party whip’s worst nightmare.

Not voting isn’t the answer. If you are one of the 25% who live in a marginal constituency where you vote actually has a chance of affecting the makeup of Parliament, then regardless of whether it’s Labour/Tory, Tory/LibDem or LibDem/Labour, one of the two is always going to be the lesser of two evils.

If you live in a “safe seat”, any vote is a wasted vote as far as deciding who you sent to Westminster goes. But that’s not the only value of voting; local and national shares of votes have a longer term impact beyond the current election. And this is where voting for an “unelectable” smaller party isn’t any more wasted than voting for one of the three main parties. If you get significant percentages of the vote going to smaller fringe parties, it sends a strong message to any machine-politics technocrats in the other parties that the electorate wants “None of the above”.

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That Racist Van

Now that that infamous “Racist Van” with its crude “Immigrants go home” slogan has been reported to the Advertising Standards Authority, it’s left me wondering about the purpose behind the extraordinary behaviour from the Home Office over the past couple of weeks.

That racist van, the Gestapo-like “Your papers please” intimidation of non-white commuters at tube stations, and the stream of threatening messages in the Home Office Twitter feed all appeared to reflect a Tory party running scared of UKIP and desperately trying to woo back racist white voters.

But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this all happened the week David Cameron was away and left Deputy PM Nick Clegg minding the shop. The whole think reeks of an ambush by the Tory right to stitch up him and his party, and put him in a position where he couldn’t win whatever he said or did.

It reminds me of the time the odious Michael Howard left his deputy Ann Widdecombe to defend a prisoner having to give birth in chains. She would have her revenge with her “Something of the night” comment that torpedoed his leadership bid.

Will the Liberal Democrats have their own “Something of the Night” moment, perhaps during the next election campaign? We can but hope, even though we may be hoping in vain.

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What The Liberal Democrats need to do now

So the Liberal Democrats, to nobody’s real surprise, did very badly in last week’s local government elections.

Part of it is down to the fact that government parties always do badly in mid-term council elections, and this is a new experience for the Liberal Democrats having not been in government before. It’s unfair on hard-working local councillors who lose seats through no fault of their own, but sadly that’s the way that it is as long as voters are more interested in “Sending a message to Westminster” than they are about electing a local council over local issues.

The Tories did badly as well. Nadine Dorries, recently described as the “Tories’ equivalent of Lembit Öpik”, is taking of leadership challenges, and demanding the return of traditional Tory values of anti-Europeanism and homophobia, oblivious to the fact that the Tories didn’t actually win the last general election, which is precisely why we have a coalition government.

Some sectarian Labour types are gleefully prophesying the end of the Liberal Democrats altogether “So that we can get back to proper two-party politics”. But The Liberal Democrats are not going to disappear any time soon, no matter what the tribalist wing of the Labour party would love to happen. It’s precisely because of their tribalist machine-driven politics that a party like The Liberal Democrats are necessary in the first place

But I do think this may well mark the turning point in the coalition.

The coalition hasn’t worked as well as many people had hoped. LibDem blogger Jonathan Calder, who enthusiastically supported the coalition in the early days rightly says

It was inevitable that the Coalition would run into trouble. One of the constituent parties had long been out of power, had leaders with no experience of government, and hordes of backbenchers and activists with bizarre views and little concept of party discipline.

I’m talking about the Conservatives.

To quote a former US president, “It’s the economy, stupid”. And the Very Big Stupid in question is Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, whose policies have failed in a way just about everybody but himself had predicted. If there is one thing Nadine Dorries is right about, it is that it’s time for him to go.

George Osborne is facing a double-whammy here. Not only is he hopelessly compromised by close association with the Murdoch clan in the still-unfolding scandal which may yet engulf the Prime Minister himself, but he’s proved himself spectacularly incompetent at his job. And the entire country is paying the price.

The way he allowed himself to be “intellectually persuaded” by ideological nonsense about Laffer Curves shows far out of his depth he is. Osborne doesn’t just not know the price of milk, his understanding of economics is reminiscent of the typical 17-year old libertarian troll on the internet. He comes over as a prime example of the Dunning-Kruger effect in action; he understands so little he doesn’t realise how little he understands.

At this point, the Liberal Democrats in Parliament have reached the point where they have nothing to lose from rocking the boat. The price of their remaining in government must be the removal of George Osborne as chancellor, and his replacement by someone who is both experienced and a pragmatist rather than an intellectually-challenged ideologue.

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