The Dissenter's Voice

The ocassional comments, opinions, rambling and rants of a liberal dissenter in New Labour's Britain

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brown's mischief and Lib Dem misjudgement

The last 24 hours have been bad news for the Lib Dems, we have looked at various rtimes shambolic, indecisive, divided, secretive and greedy and there is little point blaming either Gordon Brown or the Guardian. The truth is we have brought this on ourselves.

The problem started with the ill advised passages in Ming last conference speech, when he set out his 5 Tests for Gordon Brown. As was warned at the time these were predictably, even inevitably seen as a coalition negotiating gambit and they effectively opened the door to endless press specultation on whether or not the party would support a future Brown Govt. Given this we can hardly blame Brown for stirring up the water a little with his offer.

I can't believe that the party leadership for a moment seriously entertained the idea of having Paddy join a Labour Cabinet, however I cannot help but suspect that there has been a certain amount of testing the water on future co-operation. There are some people hovering around the current leadership who hanker for the days in the 1990's when there was a talk of a long term project 're-uniting' the progressive centre-left in an anti-Tory coalition.

However, times have changed and 10 years of Labour Govt have shown that they are frankly neither progressive nor particularly centre-left. Despite that these nostalgic grandees still see to believe that there is still room for working with a Brown Govt. There can be no more private chats about co-operation, no more secret liaisons, Ming has to make clear that he is not interested in working with Brown, now or in the event of a hung Parliament. If not then we will increasingly be seen as an irrelevant appendage to a tired and largely discredited Govt.

When we doubled our seats in 1997, we did so having abandoned equidistance between Labour & the Tories so that we could ride a wave against a govt that has palpably lost its way and energy. Today, we see to be endanger of doing exactly the opposite, abandoning equidistance so that we can support a Govt that looks set to be drowned by the incoming tide.


Blogger Tristan said...

We (thankfully) abandoned equidistance long ago now.

Its based around an outdated left/right view of politics into which we do not fit - as an example one of those political surveys put me both on the extreme left and extreme right at the same time since I'm liberal socially and economically. It makes no sense unless you talk of liberalism.

So the future is clear. We should be a liberal party. Not left, right or centre. Admittedly, interpretations of liberalism vary, but we are all essentially based on the same page.

1:03 PM  
Blogger James S said...

I generally agree that we get stuffed by the percieved orthodoxy of left-right divisions of opinion - liberalism is not left, not right and not centre, it offers a different analysis altogether.
The whole point of the LibDem party (not to mention the reason why I joined) was to get away from that cold war bi-polar mentality of authoritarianism.
Confusion over the definition of 'liberal' set in when we ceded the political initiative in defining it for ourselves.
Ming has said we are a party of independents, and that we are an independent party - and it is true. We have defined ourselves as not dependent on business or union patrimony, not susceptible to the fads of the fashionable or to the agendas of lobbyists.
To lose our independence now or at any time means to lose our identity.

3:07 PM  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

Why did Brown bother asking in advance? He should just have announced his full list of Ministers once he got in, including both a Lib Dem and a Tory in each department, and said that people who didn't want the job were free to resign.

Those approached need to ask themselves what it is about them that Brown found so attractive politically. The Lib Dems also need to ask this about each of them, as well as what the point of their own party is if it is going to pass up offers of Ministerial office, even including at Cabinet level. Everyone needs to ask what the reply from Ashdown, never over-troubled by self-doubt, would have been if Brown had offered to make him Foreign Secretary; also, to consider that, just as Sarkozy gave the Foreign Ministry to Kouchner, the only prominent French Socialist to support the Iraq War, so Brown has tried to bring in Ashdown, a pioneering neocon cheerleader from the Yugoslavia days, and who recently surprised no one by coming out as holding the same views on Iraq.

The Tories need to ask themselves why nobody bothered to do try and do a deal with them (although I suspect that that would have been Phase Two, and might yet be Phase One And Only instead). Labour Party members need to ask themselves why not one of their number - MP, Peer, or able to be raised to the Peerage for the purpose - was deemed capable of doing any of the Ministerial jobs in question, including one at Bevan's NHS. Labour MPs, in particular, need to ask why, at least where these particular positions (and how many more after this?) are concerned, the man whom they gave a clear run for Leader would rather have a Lib Dem Peer than ANY of them.

And we all need to ask ourselves and each other what we are doing to replace this whole sorry lot with proper parties and proper politicians, speaking and acting for us.

5:12 PM  
Blogger M said...

come on charles update your blog!

10:56 PM  

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