Is yours a party of principles or scoundrels?

Party A is in politics to gain power so they can put their policies and principles into action.  Without power, what they can achieve is limited so they – sensibly – are willing to compromise and indulge in some give-and-take.

Some policies are dropped or changed because to not do so would see less of the programme getting through over all.   Deals have to be done, compromises made, unexpected situations dealt with – this is the real world, after all.

The party pushes through some policies it doesn’t really believe are in the the best interests of the country – because they’re popular.  Not many fall into this category, but a few do – after all, there’d be a lot fewer good policies going though if the party lost the next election.

The party rightly understands the need to maintain a face of public unity in government even when there are vicious arguments going on behind closed doors – a divided government only helps the opposition.

Party B is a different story altogether.  They’re an unprincipled bunch who’d sell their own grandmother to get power and pimp out their sister to keep it.

Once in power they drop some manifesto commitments and change others.  They’ll do any sort of backroom deal to hang onto their ministerial limos.  They’ll put party before country, sometimes passing populist legislation that’s bad for the nation in a cheap attempt to grub up a few more votes.

The party hides behind spin and PR.  Ministers stand up and support policies they don’t really believe in, with the real debates being hidden.

Party A and and Party B are of course the same party.  The descriptions both apply to pretty much any political party in the democratic world with serious aspirations of power.

Which one you ascribe to a party probably has a lot more to do with whether you support them than what they actually do.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Ben Johnson 2nd Nov '10 - 3:13pm

    Spot on.

    All four of of our key election pledges: fairer tax, political and electoral reform, pupil premium and green economy are in the coalition agreement and being worked on. Surely this is why we spent innumerable hours knocking on doors?

    What I find worrying is that the more we attack the compromises with the Tories, the harder it is to campaign for electoral reform. The ineluctable consequence of fairer votes is more hung parliaments and more compromise!

  • The NUS Video couldn’t be more straightforward!

  • I’d like to add to matt’s list in relation to the “pupil premium”: this is also at the expense of cuts to EMA and cuts to support services for the hearing impaired, visually impaired and disabled. In the Nottingham Evening Post it was reported that a six year old child with autism is being denied access to the Speech and Language Therapy Service because of the cuts – they now only support children under five. This takes away from a disabled child access to a service essential to meet his communication needs.

    How much lower can the coalition stoop?

  • Iain it just goes to show you’re always right!

  • Tony Dawson 2nd Nov '10 - 6:32pm

    And, Sue, your own particular Labour cuts to deal with Labour’s deficit would have hurt which particular group of people who have no needs/feelings?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 2nd Nov '10 - 7:10pm

    “Whenever any politician made tentative moves towards being honest, we punished them with lower poll ratings.”

    Hmm. I must have missed that.

  • And, before we, the electorate, get too sanctimonious about our political leaders. Whenever any politician made tentative moves towards being honest, we punished them with lower poll ratings.

    That is because the electorate cannot tell which politicians are being honest and which are not. All it can tell is which politicians are promising it the most goodies.

    Democracy has its problems.

  • And sometimes if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and spends a fortune on a duck house then the fault is not the publics for taking a cynical attitude to politics, politicians and their motives.

    Liberal Democrats were by far the most honest of the three parties in that shaming expenses scandal, but as we now know to our cost, the public doesn’t tend to always differentiate politely between Parties on the basis of which way any particular politician wants them to. They mostly make their minds up on that themselves and tend to be extremely harsh in such judgements.

  • 02/11/2010 22.10PM

    Just to let you know tuition fees are to be set at up to £9000
    Rich kids can pay of all the money at once
    is this what you voted for is this fair

    Andy Edinburgh

  • Anthony Aloysius St 2nd Nov '10 - 10:31pm

    A rather ominous finding in the today’s YouGov poll is the latest figure for voting intentions in the referendum on AV.

    Supporters of the status quo now have a lead of 11% over supporters of AV. That’s compared with an 8% point lead a fortnight ago, and a 10% lead for supporters of AV in June.

  • @George Kendall

    You keep mentioning the deficit. The deficit is being used as cover for many of the coalitions most unpopular decisions. The deficit is just a smokescreen. Blinding for some, pretty obvious to others.

  • A Party that makes compromises on policy and are open about why they compromised fit into the first category.

    A Party that pretends they changed their mind about the speed of cuts in a few days between election and coalition and breaks personally signed pledges fall into the second category. Unfortunately, uuf you give your word and break it, your word can no longer be trusted.

    If Clegg had been honest and said Lib Dems would support the Tory plans for faster reduction in order to temper other policies with a Lib Dem slant he would lead party A. If he had insisted, in coalition negotiations, the personal pledges on tuition fees could be kept BUT agreed no minister would activily campaign against the Government policy, he would lead party A. If he had allowed the Tories to cheer the cuts but encourage his MP’s to call them the price of coalition he would lead party A.

    Sorry, but in the view of myself and many I know who trusted him at the last election, he leads Party B.

  • @Anthony Aloysius St

    For once Anthony is being kind….ominous isn’t the word – this is heading for a complete disaster – about 30 weeks away from a vote on AV and the big guns of the Tories are not even out yet…. as I have said before it isn’t fair, it isn’t logical and it probably isn’t right, but I sense there a lot of people who having been let down by the Lib Dems are simply not going to support them on this issue. As LDV Bob rightly says….

    [The public] mostly make their minds up on that themselves and tend to be extremely harsh in such judgements.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 3rd Nov '10 - 1:11am

    Mine is a mixture of the principled and the scoundrels. I would be doing a disservice to my principles if I contorted my thinking in order to pretend that the scoundrels are actually principled- so I don’t. A lot of you are, a lot of you have scoundrelly principles yourselves so don’t mind in any case, and some of you recognise it. Very few of those who do recognise it post blogs on this site as far as I’ve seen.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 3rd Nov '10 - 1:14am

    ‘But the fault applies to critics of the Lib Dems. They sometimes ignore the deficit. They sometimes denounce us for not following a policy, without trying to understand why we disagree. But most common of all, they argue as if 57 Lib Dem MPs had a majority in the House of Commons.’

    1) By the stats from the OBR and the NIESR Labour’s plans were projected to leave a lower structural deficit as a percentage of GDP than the Coalition plans because of the impact on growth and tax revenues.

    2) This one’s too vague to really answer.

    3) That’s not it. It’s the fact that your party actually agrees with a lot of the worst this government plans to do. It’s like what Tony Blair said about the war when Labour people kept saying it was because he had to go along with George Bush- ‘It’s worse than that- I actually agree with him.’

  • Mike(The Labour one) 3rd Nov '10 - 1:20am

    ‘Liberal Democrats were by far the most honest of the three parties in that shaming expenses scandal’

    They posed as most honest, anyway. David Laws filling his election literature with how honest he was over expenses before the election while secretly paying his expenses to a partner comes to mind.

  • Presumably this is about the problems of power and the University Tuition fees issue in particular.

    There is no need for the Lib Dem MPs to support this policy in government: the colalition agreement expressly allows absention.

    Free access to education as a public good is a pretty fundmental Liberal principle.

    The party needs a pubic row over principle to differentiate itself from the Tories, and needs to go down fighting.

    There is a deficit, but there are other areas to cut: for example, the ring fence round the NHS could be removed: health is less important than education.

    No lectures from Labour supporters please: the Browne report was instigated at their government’s request, and has come to the conclusion their government hoped for.

  • TW,

    As far as I am aware the notion of ‘the public good’ is fundamentally not a liberal principle. Liberal principles are founded on the notion of the autonomous individual and pretty much categorically dismisses the notion of the common good. If it’s communitarianism your after you would be better off with Labour or the Conservatives but probably only on their left wings.

    Free education as an instrumental good might be entailed in the notion of the autonomous self but even then only to a basic level sufficient to allow competence to fully access life choices. If it is necessary to have a degree level education in order to be fully capable as an autonomous individual then liberalism could be said to imply free higher education. It also might be justified as an intrinsic good but the justification then becomes much more convoluted. The public good could be a justification for free education but it would not be a liberal one.

    And George, might I suggest you should watch more wildlife programmes on the telly, that’s not an elephant in the room that’s giant red herring.

  • Tony Dawson

    I’m not a member of the Labour Party – just a concerned human being, who works with parents of disabled children. I really believe there is no justification, regardless of party politics, in targeting the most vulnerable and disabled. I am a low earner, but would rather pay higher taxes than be part of a nation that appears to be reverting to the law of the jungle. I do blame the Libdems for being party to this – I always thought they were a party of social justice. I did vote Labour in the last election (in the previous two I voted Libdem) – I realised in time that Clegg was a Tory and I will never vote Libdem again.

  • Remind me how many Labour politicians are being charged and could be facing prison sentences Mike(The Labour one) ?

  • Mike(The Labour one) 3rd Nov '10 - 7:25pm

    @George Kendall: I’ve seen different figures, the NIESR for example (I see you’re quoting them from just after the June budget… so not taking into account the spending review or their most recent comments) predicted that tax revenues would fall enough that the government would only be able to reduce the deficit to 3.6% of GDP. This is from the 20th of October-–$21384971.htm

    ‘Harsh spending cuts could prove counterproductive to dealing with the deficit by lowering Treasury tax revenues, a thinktank has warned.’

    ‘The National Institute for Economic and Social Research (Niesr) suggested the economy could be hit by the plans contained in today’s comprehensive spending review, contrary to ministers’ expectations.

    ‘It suggested the government may only be able to reduce the deficit to 3.6% of GDP by 2014/15. This falls far short of its 2.1% target, in today’s money approximately £28 billion. ‘

    So the NIESR have predicted that the government’s plans will leave us with a 3.6% structural deficit, not the 2.1% claimed. That is a government forecast they don’t expect it to meet.

    Onto the OBR- I used their figures for Labour’s projected deficit because they were at hand. I don’t know if the NIESR has made a prediction for Labour, or I can’t find it anyway. As Fraser Nelson says, it predicted that-

    ‘the structural deficit would be reduced from 8% now to 2.8% in 2014-15. That is to say, Osborne’s manifesto pledge – to eliminate “the bulk” of the structural deficit – would have happened under Darling. So no extra cut, or tax hike, is needed to meet this pledge. ‘

    So 2.8% under Labour according to the OBR in June by 2014/15. 3.6% under the Coalition according to the NIESR in October by 2014/15.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 3rd Nov '10 - 7:37pm

    Can I ask why my reply to LDV Bob got deleted? I’m sure I saw it up, and now it’s gone. There was nothing inflammatory in it- it went along the lines of-

    Innocent until proven guilty, if proven guilty they should face the consequences. But this doesn’t mean the Lib Dems were saintly, especially when you have people like David Laws posturing as someone in the clear when he was only in the clear because he lied about paying expenses to his partner. The Lib Dems managed to make themselves *look* like the least tainted party, doesn’t mean they weren’t as knee deep in it as everyone else.

  • Mike (the drunk Lab) 4th Nov '10 - 12:13am

    @George Kendall: It would be nice to have NIESR and OBR figures for both the Labour party’s plans and the Tories’ current plans- I did have to compare two predictions from different times, so it could easily be different. It does show that Labour’s plans weren’t bringing us to the edge of disaster though if there are estimates that put them ahead of the Tories/Coalition for deficit reduction.

    The NIESR predicted, rather than the cuts having to be deeper, that Osborne would have to make further tax rises if he wanted to meet his goal- I think he would do it, as the Tories love to do, through regressive indirect taxes if at all. I think the deficit should be dealt with more with tax rises anyway, but progressive ones. It quite clearly says that the cuts will harm growth enough to harm deficit reduction. And even if it didn’t- some of these cuts are obscene. The cuts to local councils is one that I’m especially concerned about- not because of any economic training or anything I admit, but because when Thatcher did similarly it left the severely disabled with less vists per day, leaving them sitting in their own filth over night. For me, that’s not on. The coalition is intent not only on impoverishing the poor, but on taking their dignity. Labour won;t have been much better, sure. Labour is hardly the ideal party- they aren’t socialists, they don’t want to democratise the economic sphere any more than you do. But they would have been a little better, and the people I know wouldn’t have suffered quite as much as they have because some bankers couldn’t do their sums. Or they could do their sums and figured it would be better for them to screw over the poor for their own gain.

    As for that comment, it could have been accidentally deleted, first off. This site has tended to be very fair in the past when I know I’ve made comments that are on the edge of being off topic, and they’ve been allowed to stay. More fair than ConservativeHome. More fair often than LabourHome. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t just stopped posting here, the mods haven’t struck me as unfair ever. I’ve never been censored or anything despite all the anti-Lib Dem stuff I’ve come out with. To be honest, I’m not even anti-Lib Dem- I had respect for them before th election. Among my friends whenever Chris Huhne comes up he’s tagged as ‘Mike’s friend’ because I used to be the one calling for a ‘progressive’ alliance with the Lib Dems against the lot in Labour who just don’t care for civil liberties. My nan voted Lib Dem, my mother did the same. My mam’s come back to Labour of course but it breaks my heart to see my nan say ‘they’re all the same’ after your lot jumped in with the Tories. They’ve both said they feel sick to their stomach having voted Lib Dem and it breaks my heart to think my nan has just given up on it all. I’d rather her be Lib Dem than have lost hope in the democratic process, but here we are. She hasn’t come back to Labour. She loved Attlee and Bevan and Cripps and she’s right that the modern Labour party doesn’t hold a candle to the old giants. But it’s still our party, it’s the party of the working class, and there are a minority within that party that know it. The Lib Dems at their best offer charity- it’s well known that Simon Hughes, in my mind the best of the Lib Dems, hates unionism and the working class. At its best the Lib Dems offer charity- Labour at its best offers solidarity. Labour at its best offers dignity.

    Anyway, I’m far too drunk to make any coherent statements. I’ll post when I’m sober. But mods- I come to this site because it’s more fair than most. Not because I’m a troll or a saboteur. I don’t want the Lib Dems to disappear because you’ll all just go to the Tories and they’re even worse to the poor. I like the Lib Dems (in a way) I just think you’re leadership have betrayed you. I was betrayed by Blair, you shouldn’t let it happen to yourselves. Because Clegg and Cable and Huhne (who I used to like) and Laws and Alexander- they’re your Blair. They pretended to agree with you and then used the coalition discussions to secretly betray you. At least Blair was, belatedly (he pretended to be a Marxist for a bit!) open about his hatred of the Left, its civil liberties and its socialism.

    Finally, and I might have made a fool of myself posting as drunk as I am, I understand your criticisms of the Labour party and for many of them I agree (and I will often say I agree.). But it’s Labour. It has its history and its people. When Blair’s as dead as the innocent Iraqis and soldiers he sent to the butcher’s it will still be Bevan’s party, the party of the Red Flag and of economic democracy, whose members (against the official line I know) stood against Mosley.

    As for the income tax, I appreciate the way it’s been done as to exclude the very richest from the benefits and save that money. But it’s still regressive between the middle and the poor, which is damaging anyway. The poorest may get a little but the middle get more and that money could be better spent, in my view, making sure the severely disabled don’t have to spend the nights of their twilight years sitting in their own excrement.

    (Can’t help but feel this post will embarass me in the morning! Any types blame on the drink, not on poor old me)

  • Mike (the drunk Lab) 4th Nov '10 - 12:20am

    @George Kendall: It doesn’t say that it excludes capital spending- it’s not Fraser Nelson’s figures anyway, it’s the OBR’s. I just quoted him because I’ve been attacked in the past on this site for quoting people whose political affiliations were unknown (so therefore they must be ‘Labour hacks’). I went with Fraser Nelson because he’s well known as a Coalition/Tory supporter- the article I quoted was in defence of the cuts, he just realised they weren’t necessary to deal with the deficit but he still wanted them. It was the most pro-you lot I could find on the subject so as to avoid being attacked for using left-wing sources or whatever.

    I don’t disagree with the need to deal with the deficit and with borrowing. My ideal would be the Digger’s ideal- the working class make their own society, poor but free and democratic. We’ll look after our own. But the argument is that the government’s method of getting the deficit down isn’t as effective or as fair as Labour’s was (and Labour’s could be improved I know). When the deficit is the go-to reason for cutting as deep as you are it must be troubling for a think-tank like the NIESR to say that the cuts will harm deficit reduction by reducing tax revenues and increasing unemployment. Sadly enough very few newspapers care for that narrative. For your papers cuts are an end in themselves.

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