Laws and Clegg named among 100 most influential figures ‘on the right’

It seems unlikely that either David Laws or Nick Clegg is going to appreciate appearing on this list, The Right’s 100 Most Influential People, compiled by Iain Dale and Brian Brivati for the Torygraph. David ranks 66th, Nick 44th – here are their profiles:

LibDem Spokesman on Work & Pensions
Laws was approached by George Osborne to defect last year but he rebuffed the advance. He is probably the most right-leaning LibDem MP and holds distinctly free market views on a whole range of issues.
His influence will be determined by the degree to which he can encourage his party to fall in line with his views. He will be a key player in any Lib-Con coalition talks.

Home Affairs Spokesman, Liberal Democrats
What’s a Lib Dem doing on a list like this? Clegg is the leading right of centre disciple of ‘Orange Book’ politics. He’s the antithesis of the stereotype ‘beard & sandals’ Lib Dems, who mutter about him being a ‘closet’ Tory.
He’s the sort of liberal who actually understands the historic meaning of the word and is likely to become even more influential when he takes on Chris Huhne for the Lib Dem leadership.

According to the list’s authors:

Being on the right does not just mean support for the Conservative Party, so the list contains figures from UKIP, right of centre pressure groups, businessmen, bloggers and the odd celebrity. The term “right” encompasses both the libertarian and authoritarian traditions. You can be socially liberal as well as socially conservative and still be classed as on the “right”. It is a big tent and we have attempted to find the one hundred people who most deserve to live in it.

David, Nick – I guess you’ll just have to take it as a compliment, and use your new-found leverage to help those on the right understand what liberalism is all about.

(Hat-tip: Jock Coats.)

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  • Yup, an old Liberal once called me a fascist because I argued that education should be provided publicly. He thought that state education meant state indoctrination. On the other hand, an American (who I knew had been endlessly kind and generous to others in need) objected to the fact that my college education had been pretty much fully funded by the state — O dear dead days — because that was “socialistic”. It all depends what your ideological framework is.

  • Geoffrey Payne 2nd Oct '07 - 6:23pm

    Left – right is a 2 dimensional metaphor that will never adequately describe a multidimensional political world, and yet it’s weakness, which is it’s simplicity, is also it’s strength. We need some kind of shorthand to describe where politicians and political parties are in a way that is quickly understandable.
    If the metaphor did not exist, it will have to be invented.
    For me the defining issue in terms of Left – Right is in relation to the distribution of wealth. If you believe that a widening gap, invariably caused by market forces, is either a good thing, or you don’t care, then I would say you are on the right.
    If you believe governments should intervene in the market to lessen the gap, then you are on the left.
    Judging from the conference we just had, I think the Lib Dems are to the left of Labour, but no one realises that because when the party dropped it’s 50% tax rate on high earners, that implied the opposite. Of course our Green taxes are progressive, some say more progressive, but i do not think the electorate realise that.
    Other issues that the Left or Right support have by association been described as Left or Right. So in the 1980s, the Labour Left believed in civil liberties and civil liberties became a left wing belief system. Today New Labour reject civil liberties as much as Thatcher did, and so where do you place it today?
    Historically Green politics, feminism, anti-racism, gay rights, civil liberties have all been part of the definition of the left, and today define the Liberal Democrats.
    There is a fringe that is obsesed with free markets, just as New Labour and the Tories are, but I did not see much evidence of them in Brighton, maybe they have joined the Tories?

  • If they think that Nick Clegg and David Laws are influential Right wingers (well, I agree about them being influential, but doubt the Right wing part for roughly the same reasons than Tristan), funny that they haven’t listed Vince Cable, who must be currently more influential, and about as “Right wing” than Clegg and Laws.

  • as long as we continue to class people in terms of ‘left’ and ‘right’, we perpetuate the notion that there need only be 2 choices in British politics – a party of the left and a party of the right.

    It seems to me that LDV should compile a list of the 100 greatest centrists, as a riposte.

  • “His [David Laws’s] influence will be determined by the degree to which he can encourage his party to fall in line with his views. He will be a key player in any Lib-Con coalition talks.”


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