LibLink: Lembit Öpik – Notes on a progressive decision

Lib Dem MP Lembit Öpik has written an article for the Progressive London blog based on his speech to their recent conference on the topic, The Tories are not Progressive. Lembit reveals himself to be a “left-leaning libertarian” with deep scepticism that the Tories under David Cameron have actually changed. There’s lots of eminently quotable material, but here’s just a few excerpts:

I’m a practical kind of person. I don’t like the high levels of dogma which seems to attach itself to party politics and elections. There are good people in every political party, and no major grouping is 100% wrong. So I make judgements on people and parties as I find them. …

Actions speak louder than words and the last time the Tories were trying to run the country they did not grace themselves in tolerant or liberal minded social policy, Clause 28 being an infamous example. To those who say they’ve changed, I reply “you can’t talk yourself out of a problem you’ve behaved yourself into.” …

As for Labour, here we can judge on recent performance. Once again, there’s a depressing adherence to authoritarianism – a belief that people must be instructed rather than nurtured.

But it’s Lembit’s views on the prospect of a hung parliament – clearly influenced by his experience in Wales – that are perhaps most interesting:

So what should Lib Dems do in the event of a hung Parliament. Ironically – despite my confident analysis! – I can’t say. That’s because of what I’ve learned in successive coalition talks in Wales. It’s actually not about how one feels about the other parties. It’s about the Programme for Government. That’s much more important than the colour of the party. If you can find a partner which will deliver a large proportion of your agenda, and which you can trust to work in reliable cooperative spirit, then it’s do-able. Personally, I FEEL that tends to favour the Labour Party, but the Tories are trying desperately to court the Centre Left, just in case. They’ll have to try very, very, hard indeed to convince me it’s not just the same old Tories in new Eton blazers.

You can read Lembit’s blog article in full here.

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