Opinion: Gorgeous George steals our place on the Left

Well done George Galloway for last week’s Bradford West by-election victory. He was astutely aware of the state of a vacuous Labour party lacking leadership and direction, and took full advantage of it.

Now, no-one can say that a Left-wing party is doomed to automatic failure. And it is little use Lib Dems complaining: “That’s our job.”

It is our job, but we have failed completely. A strong left-wing challenge from us, the true party of the non-socialist Left could have produced a very different result. Could we have done so with a Black minority ethnic (BME) Lib Dem candidate in a strongly black Asian seat? It didn’t help Labour one little bit. And our candidate did all she could in difficult circumstances.

But it does demand a shake-up in how diversity is treated in our party, especially by residents of “Midsomer” – where infamously no black people ever appear.

We have to show black and ethnic minority people that Liberal Democrats really do care about them. We can start by adopting all the measures allowed by law under the heading “positive action”. …And move to ensuring that we do reflect some of the people we seek to represent.

Our task remains to replace Labour as the progressive party on the Left of British politics. It is not to defend hapless Tories who have lost touch with the people, on issues that formed no part of the coalition agreement.

We are a party of the left, or we are nothing. Our pretence that the coalition is producing wonders for the economy will increasingly be seen as the nonsense it is, with Britain about to enter its second recession in almost as many years.

Compare the coalition’s economic approach to Obama’s Keynsian policies of public investment. The latter have recently produced the third highest rise in share prices since World War Two (the last was under Clinton ) with the US economy poised for fragile growth.

The programme of UK public sector cut and burn that we have been conned into supporting reaps only the rewards of further contraction.

But we are first a party of liberty; defenders of human and civil rights. If the leadership and craven MPs and peers agree to reintroduce Labour’s proposals to snoop on our emails and websites and tweets, they will have no party left to lead.

We will not tolerate any attempt by the State to take over the Murdoch press’s hacking role.

So we must await the ideas to get us out of this from the Radical Centre. I spotted two Radical Centre policies this week:

• Only fill up your car tanks and jerry cans to three-quarters of the capacity, not to full – attributed to Ed Davey.

• The Cabinet will discuss the Radical Centre proposal that lukewarm pasties should only be charged 10 per cent VAT, not the full 20 per cent for a piping hot one.

* Only spy on citizens’ emails, tweets and calls Monday to Saturday,

Please post any more world-shattering, pasty mould-breaking ideas from the Radical Centre. I will award points for the best. And we know what points mean…..

First prize: a night out with George Galloway in Bradford West. Second prize, two nights out with George in a curry-house of Eric Pickles’s choice….

* Additional prize: Ryman League Dinner with Dave, feasting on hot pasties and donor kebabs; or even kebabbed donors.

* Jonathan Hunt is President of Camberwell & Peckham local party and chair of the Southwark Co-ordinating Committee. He is an elected Life Member of the NUJ, and a former parliamentary candidate.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Parliamentary by-elections.


  • jenny barnes 3rd Apr '12 - 10:04am

    What on earth does being non-socialist but left wing mean? The problem with the policies of the last 33 years is precisely that all 3 parties seem to think the reified market can make decisions which are in fact political, and in many people’s view should be made on socialist grounds. If LDs believe in neo-liberalism, like the tories and labour, of course people who don’t will vote for whoever they think can defeat the tweedledum/dee/dim candidates.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Apr '12 - 10:11am

    I have already made my point previously today about George Galloway[s campaign, using some strong language, so that it is “under consideration”.

    In case it does not get through, here’s a summary – I regard the way Galloway exploited genuine feelings about being abandoned by conventional politics by mixing them with whipping up fury with one-sided views on what are actually very much fringe issues, but issues that when whipped up lead to community hatred, as little different from the way the BNP works.

    We would not say “Well done” to the BNP if they won a Parliamentary by-election, so we should not say the same to Galloway, even as an excuse to make valid points about the lack of decent left-wing policies in today’s mainstream politics in this country.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Apr '12 - 10:20am

    Why not just scrap the LibDems as a party and let’s all sign up to Labour? Being a simple and old soul, I see the Labour/Tory contest as primarily between workers and bosses, work (current assests) and capital (fixed assets), narrow and wide income spreads, involvement and heirarchy. Perhaps LibDems need a different narrative altogether.

  • Tom Papworth 3rd Apr '12 - 11:11am

    ” no-one can say that a Left-wing party is doomed to automatic failure. And it is little use Lib Dems complaining: “That’s our job.””

    Er… are you saying that being left-wing and doomed to failure is the Lib Dems job?

    “Could we have done so with a Black minority ethnic (BME) Lib Dem candidate in a strongly black Asian seat?”

    No. The Labour candidate was a Muslim and he was still beaten. You may be surprised to discover that George Galloway isn’t a BME candidate. Perhaps the “black Asian” vote isn’t as racial as you imply.

    Still, that’s no reason to pass up the opportunity to try to flog us discrimination (under the banner “positive”), is it, Jonathan.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Apr '12 - 12:09pm

    Multi-culturalism is not about restricting a person to the culture they were brought up in. Quite the reverese. It is about accepting that a society has many valid cultures, and about allowing individuals information and freedom to choose to change their cultural contexts if they want to, even to change the cultures, or not, as the case may be.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd Apr '12 - 12:53pm

    @ Jonathan Hunt.

    Perhaps the Lib Dems could start showing the so called BME that they care for them by not lumping them together as one homogenous mass (BME).

    My family now includes individuals with a different skin hue to me. Their concerns are exactly the same as mine, a fair and safe society, a job, affordable housing, a decent education system, a first rate NHS, etc.

    Until through family marriage, I became part of a multicultural family, I too fell into the trap of treating people with different skin colour and ethnic background as somehow ‘other’.

    As Richard Dean says, multiculturalism gives people the freedom to choose. Our family now has various skin tones and a pick and mix ethnicity . I defy anyone to pigeon-hole us.

  • @Toby MacDonnell. You proclaim the Tories…….”are the most popular party in the country and possess the democratic mandate they need ……”. Please allow me to pass a contrary opinion. Twice. First. At the 2010 general election, the Conservative Party failed to gain an overall majority in the United Kingdom Parliament by 20 seats, therefore the Tories most certainly do not have the “democratic mandate they need to make all those reforms you disagree with, and that’s fine because that’s how a parliamentory democracy works.”. Second. This situation is the very opposite of “fine”. I know this only too well because the reason the Tories are able behave as if they have an overall majority is because the Liberal Democrats are [in effect] using the votes of people like me to sustain a Tory government. And if you think that resembles “fine” I respectfully beg to differ.

  • MacK (Not a Lib Dem) 3rd Apr '12 - 2:35pm

    Toby MacDonnell

    “It’s no good pretending the Tories are some kind of alien, aristocratic tyrants empowered only by some kind of military coup: they are the most popular party in the country and possess the democratic mandate they need to make all those reforms you disagree with”

    You are right, the Tories are not empowered by a military coup they are empowered by a political coup. When the Tories failed to get past the winning post and realized that they did not have a democratic mandate they looked around for someone to stretcher them into power and found the all too willing Liberal Democrats who also did not have a democratic mandate. The only party which is entitled to say it has a mandate in our first past the post system is the party which gains the majority of seats over the other parties. The electorate in Bradford West were not fools: they saw the wicked things that the Tories, bolstered by the Lib Dems, have done to the ordinary people of this country without a true mandate and decided to punish you for it. The coalition vote collapsed and the Liberal Democrats lost their deposit.
    “They are the most popular party in the country” Really? Even after their disastrous precipitation of the petrol panic? That must be why Labour’s ten points ahead of them in the polls.

    @ Jonathan Hunt.

    The Liberal Democrats are “the true party of the non socialist left”? How long does April Fools’ day go on for?

    @ Witand Wisdam

    “We are the party of liberty, personal freedom,”

    And now, it would seem, the party of Big Brother — despite declaring you were opposed to it in opposition.
    But then you were opposed to so many things in coalition weren’t you? An immigration cap, raising tuition fees, top down reorganisation of the NHS, the removal of the higher rate of tax from those earning over £150,000 , halving the deficit in the lifetime of a parliament– the list goes on and on. All reasons your “true party of the non-socialist left” and your coalition partners, the true party of the selfish Right will continue to get hammered in future bye-elections and in the council elections.

  • MacK (Not a Lib Dem) 3rd Apr '12 - 2:38pm

    Correction: should read — but you were opposed to so many things in opposition, weren’t you?

  • Paul Hindley 3rd Apr '12 - 3:14pm

    The Lib Dems are mostly a centre-left party presently and historically with a substantial minority, who are of course, centrist. We as Lib Dems should strive to re-place Labour as the main party of the progressive centre-left, a concept that dates back to Jo Grimond, although the Coalition obviously makes this impossible for now. Do not forget that just as there are numerous right wing traditions like traditional conservatism and neoliberalism / Thatcherism; there are also numerous left wing traditions such as socialism and (social) liberalism. Hence it is quite logical to be on the ‘non-socialist left’ and still be liberal. Centre-left liberals strive for freedom, social justice and participation; this is part of our political heritage, not the solidarity, ‘social justice’ and statism of socialism nor the ‘freedom’, aggressive competition and free-marketism of neoliberalism.

    Consider this quote from our former leader, Ming Campbell.

    “I’m a politician in the centre-left, I joined a centre-left party, I’m leading a centre-left party.”

  • I agree with Jonathan, the LDs should have spent this parliament supplanting the worn – out Labour party, as the dominant party of the Left.

    The chance to do that was blown the second we went for coalition, as opposed to a “confidence and supply” arrangement with a minority Tory government that we could have brought down when it suited us most.

    Now the LDs will go into the next election defending the record of an essentially Tory government. It will be a bit difficult to appeal to left – wing voters with that millstone around our necks. I have still to hear any convincing (i.e. convinces me) arguments about how we campaign against the Tories having just spent five years in government with them. Therefore we will be de – facto campaigning as allies of the Tories (i.e. the National Liberals redux).

    The really interesting thing this week is that having done it’s best to alienate our supporters on the left, the leadership seems intent on doing the same to our libertarian supporters. As someone who counts myself as both, I can see myself not having *anybody* to vote for pretty soon 🙁

  • Paul McKeown 3rd Apr '12 - 4:29pm

    Respect is a party which exploits deep seated feelings of victimhood felt by a racial/religious minority in deprived areas. That minority has, to a degree, a valid claim of discrimination, but Respect has no rational solution to offer that is likely to work in the real world. Ultimately it has only the rhetoric from blown in blowhard, an emperor of the ghetto with no clothes.

    The BNP is a party which exploits deep seated feelings of victimhood felt by a racial majority in deprived areas. The lack of rational solutions, likely to work in the real world and lots of empty rhetoric, makes for a striking comparison.

    I can’t imagine that the author of this piece would suggest worrying that the BNP was poised to take over the Liberal Democrats’ position on the centre left, so I find his apparent belief that Respect is poised to do the same lacks any credibility.

    The Liberal Democrat party may have problems at the present due to its association with national government during an economic downturn, but apeing Respect is certainly not going to be a solution.

  • David Allen 3rd Apr '12 - 4:55pm

    It must have been a tough call in 2010: sell out to the Tories or stick to our principles.

    Would a Tory government have boasted about cutting taxes, while surreptitiously increasing other taxes, especially on the poor?
    Would a Tory government have been prepared to apply a cosmetic 6-month apparent delay to the ongoing Trident programme?
    Would a Tory government have tripled student fees?
    Would a Tory government have made a small change in stamp duty and called it a wealth tax on millionaires, while using this as camouflage for a much greater tax concessions to the rich?

    The answer to all these is a resounding ‘Yes, but now the Lib Dems can share the blame’! In 2015 we’ve got a welter of rubbish arguments which come from having done terrible things, and not having been virtuous in or out of government.

  • Toby MacDonnell 3rd Apr '12 - 5:05pm

    All changes in the governing party are coups. A political coup just means that the transfer of power has been peaceful: that’s to be desired, not condemned. The coming together of two parties to work towards common goals in a natural, constitutional thing in any parliamentory system, but especially a British one, where historically parties have been loose ties of individuals in loose condeferations, including; the Bedfordites, Rockinghamites, Chathamites, Grenvillites, King’s Men, Foxites, Lloyd Georgists, Asquithes… all of which formed coallitions under Whig or Tory banners.

    Mack, if you don’t like us, don’t vote for us. We’re pushing through legislation to free everyone from the first £10,000 of tax, to add a billion pounds of new money for disadvantaged school children, setting up a green investment bank and trying to create a democratically accountable Lords. Those are our priorities, and it’s no good our saying “We can only go into government with a left wing party” when most of the country voted Tory. What is the point in voting for us if you just end up with Labour over and over again?

    If we can only ally with Labour, we may as well join Labour. But we are not Labour: we are just as much Labour as we are Conservative. We oppose their authoritarian central government, we oppose their profligate spending habits, their mismanagement of banking regulation, their brazen manipulation of statistics which have created perverse incentives across the civil service, and their segregationist attitudes to society. In case you can’t tell (and it’s pretty hard to tell the difference) I am refering to Labour.

    We’re a small party, without much hope for a perminant position at the power table: our priority is not to replace Labour or the Tories, but we are able to form a central pivot between the two from which we can achieve the things which matter to us, which is primarily the creation of a society of talent rather than a society of rank. We have commonality with both of the other parties on this point: coallitions are moments when we can leaverage that commonality into actual change. So pardon us for doing what we believe in, and pardon us for not believing in an epic battle between good and evil.

  • “Would a Tory government have tripled student fees?”

    No, they’d have multiplied them fivefold. So would a Labour government. Let’s keep the critique of the Liberals concessions in government accurate 🙂

  • Toby MacDonnell 3rd Apr '12 - 5:19pm

    David, to the last two points on your cahier: as a recent graudate, I can say I prefer the new system, and that if it weren’t for tuition fees and for student loans I would never have been able to get my degree, because I am born to a poor family. Loans are a progressive step which have opened universtities to the talented and which promise to create a growth in places relative to demand, which a tax-and-spend model can never do.

    As for tax concessions, they appeal to the globally mobile rich. I’d rather hav e a slice of their money to finance a pupil premium than have no money at all as they high-tail it to Singapore. Holding a grudge against an amorphous, faceless group of people is just a way of trying to avoid the hard choices by deligating to a strawman scapegoat, and it is not a serious arguement.

    As for the Tories being able to shout over us about our own achievements, that’s precisely why the party needs people like you to shout louder on our side, rather than shoot us in the foot with this kind of rehtoric. Rather than masochisticly naval gaze we could be doing some real work and making ourselves heard over the chatter.

  • Whilst I agree that centre left politics needed doom political parties to failure, I don’t think that Galloway is a good example. He aimed is entire campaign at a specific religious demographic.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Apr '12 - 5:27pm

    “fivefold” sounds like another of those unsubstantiated “We’ve made it less bad than it would have been” arguments.
    What’s beyond doubt is that our MPs promised to vote against an increase. This was not just a manifesto item to be bargained away: it was a personal pledge by each and every one of them.
    “We lied”, “We changed our minds” and “We were stupid to make such a promise”: which of these will be the best justifications that we should be trusted again in 2015? Even the tories used this to hammer us in the AV referendum. In 2015, people who like the government can vote Tory, those who don’t can vote for Labour (or PC, SNP, Green, UKIP, BNP, Monster Raving Loony). Why should any of us vote for LD again?

  • Peter Watson 3rd Apr '12 - 5:39pm

    I though that joining in and feeling involved after lurking on this site for so long would cheer me up.
    Re-reading my posts I think I’ve just made myself more depressed about the party I’ve supported since those halcyon days as a student when I though that curly-haired Danny Finkelstein was the future of the SDP/Liberal alliance!!
    Time for a comforting cup of tea and some happier thoughts 🙂

  • David Allen 3rd Apr '12 - 6:20pm

    Toby McDonnell,

    So you think that if we shouted louder about our plans to give bigger tax concessions to the rich, that would impress people?

    Especially the people who (as Paul Hindley points out) recognised our previous leader as a natural centre-left leader of a long-standing centre-left party?

  • Toby MacDonnell 3rd Apr '12 - 6:24pm

    David, we could just give up.

  • David Allen 3rd Apr '12 - 6:33pm


    Yes, we could do that.

    We could accept, I suppose, that our party like both the others has now been bought up by the hedge funds and placed at the service of the rich, and that we should all simply aspire to join Peter Mandelson on a rich oligarch’s yacht, ready to do his bidding.

    Gorgeous George didn’t accept that, and perhaps that’s why, despite his huge flaws, he went out and won!

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd Apr '12 - 7:28pm

    How let down does one have to feel bout the mainstream parties to vote for George Galloway? Very, I would say.

    I now know that I have always voted Liberal Democrat as a protest vote. I really do not understand what the Liberal democrats stand for.

    So many abstract concepts are bandied around but what exactly do they translate into in practical terms?

    The so -called ‘snoopers charter’ seems to be the latest policy to disabuse those who thought that we understood what those abstract concepts signified.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd Apr '12 - 7:41pm

    @ Jen.
    Is there any evidence that the Tory government would have increased student fees 5 fold?

    I’m starting to get rather fidgetty about claims made by Liberal Democrats.

    When trying to justify my previous voting behaviour, it was pointed out that the pupil premium was actually in the Conservative Manifesto.

    Indeed it was, page 53 – ‘
    ‘That is why we will introduce a pupil premium-extra funding from children from disadvantaged families’.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd Apr '12 - 7:43pm

    That should read- extra funding for not from disadvantaged children.

  • You can win from the centre left, however the reality turned out this is where Blair won the floating vote, not with the looney left approach of Galloway. By the way anyone else wonder why he hasn’t redistributed his wealth?

    Centre / Centre Left does it for me. Whilst I think the direction of travel is too far to the right at present a lurch to the left of Galloway is surely not the answer.

  • wit and wisdom, I admire your positive enthusiasm for campaigning, and your list of LibDem achievements is impressive. However, you do not mention that the LIbDems have done things that they said they would never do; and have not done things that they promised. “Would a Tory (or Labour) government have limited student fees which Labour introduced to a less painful graduate tax?” The LIbDems (sorry to be a bore) promised, not to introduce “a less painful graduate tax”, but to scrap fees. Completely. The voters might just remember this and other details in three years time.

  • Jonathan Hunt 3rd Apr '12 - 11:29pm

    Under the corrupt political system that produces corrupt politicians, and allows the arrogant to practice absolute power on a small minority of votes, our choice is essentially limited to parties of the Left of the Right. That is what voters know and look for.

    Would that we have a fair and sophisticated system that permits voters to have a far greater choice. And that parties only band into wider coalitions after elections, not as continuing so-called ‘broad churches’.

    Lib Dems have done remarkably well for decades in winning a strong minority from both parties because they have lost faith in their party of either flank and seen us as an alternative, or vote for us on a tactical but negative basis under our corrupt system to stop someone, not support someone.

    We have done well in obtaining a reasonable number of those largely neagtive votes. But to really get anywhere we have to become one or other of the two main parties. We are not, and have never been a party of the Right. Whenever we have dallied with the Right is when we have been badly shafted by the Tories.

    Since before the time of the Whigs, we have been the party of the Left, in the van of social progress. Liberty and both the freedoms, from and to, are left-wing concepts. So too are the civil and human rights we promote and defend.

    There’s no way I would support George Galloway, although I can find his sheer arogance, audacity and invention in argument quite entertaining.

    But he is at least he says he is fighting for the interests of people who been discriminated against. Not, like the BNP or EDL, seeking to further discriminate against them. For that resaon, you cannot compare them, although you do wonder if either came to power which would be the most brutal and authoritarian.

    While political geography can locate the different positions on Left and Right, it is impossible to know where to find the centre, let alone the Radical Centre.

    We were once a series of local parties, and that is what Respect is. George saw the issues in Bradford West and addressed them. We would once have done that, when Community Politics was about being part of the local community, where Liberal activists knew what was happening, rather than put out endless surveys.

  • Peter Watson 4th Apr '12 - 11:10am

    @Daniel Lewis
    I agree whole-heartedly with the ideals you espouse here.
    Very sadly, I think the actions of our parliamentarians in government have blown away any chances of realising them in the foreseeable future.
    Screwing up the opportunity for electoral reform dooms us to more of the same 2-party, left versus right, dominance.
    Breaking promises and defending policies we opposed in opposition, and often still oppose outside parliament, means no-one knows what we stand for, what our principles are, and whether we can be trusted.
    I think we have become the squeezed middle in British politics, standing for nothing, opposing nothing.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Apr '12 - 11:38am


    You are right, the Tories are not empowered by a military coup they are empowered by a political coup. When the Tories failed to get past the winning post and realized that they did not have a democratic mandate they looked around for someone to stretcher them into power and found the all too willing Liberal Democrats who also did not have a democratic mandate.

    This is a nonsensical argument. Had the Liberal Democrats vote been more evenly spread, and the Liberal-SDP vote was in the 1980s or the Liberal vote in 1974, the Tories would have won a clear majority on the same share of the vote they had in 2010. It is daft to suggest the legitimacy or non-legitimacy of a Tory government depends on how the extent to which the Liberal Democrats manage to get their targetting strategy working effectively.

    We have an electoral system which distorts the representation in favour of the largest party and against small parties except those small parties whose support is geographically concentrated, such as the Northern Ireland parties. The result of this distortion in 2010 was that the Tories came close to half the seats on not much more than a third of the vote, the Liberal Democrats obtained less than a fifth of the number of seats that the Tories got, even though the Tories only got about half as much votes again as the Liberal Democrats.

    The distortion did just the job which the supporters of First Past the Post praise it for doing – although it did not quite give the Conservatives a majority, it led to the position where a government led by them was the only one viable, and strengthened their hand and weakened that of the Liberal Democrats to ensure it would be very much a Tory government with a little LibDem influence, rather than one which reflected the nationwide share of the votes for the two parties. The supporters of FPTP say this is good, it leads to effective strong government instead of government which is always bickering because of a multiplicity of small parties whose agreement is needed to get anything through.

    Any suggestion that the government resulting from the 2010 was unfair was quashed by the 2011 referendum vote. The victorious supporters of FPTP in that referendum made the distortions leading to effective government their main argument in favour of keeping to FPTP, and FPTP won by two to one. The referendum in 2011 was in that way a referendum on the legitimacy of the current government, and the current government won. The people of this country by voting two-to-one in favour of the electoral system which made this government the only viable one endorsed it – they endorsed the distortion which made it such a Tory government and which weakened so much the Liberal Democrat influence an which made a coalition of the Labour with the Liberal democrats unviable.

    I shall therefore accept no criticism of the existence of this government from anyone who did not loudly proclaim their support for “YES” in the referendum. Anyone who voted “NO” or by their inaction let “NO” win is by what they did a supporter of the current government in its current form. The only legitimate criticism they could throw at the Liberal Democrats is that they are doing too much to oppose the policies of the “First Past the Post” winners.

  • Tim Bell put it like this on BBC Newsnight last night:
    ” because you’ve got a coalition government there is not a majority government in place and the majority of people are not satisfied….”
    Of course, the chairman of powerful lobbying conglomerate Chime Communications overlooks the fact that a preferred Conservative overall majority in parliament would undoubtedly represent far less of a majority in the country, but although specious it is a line that has undoubted appeal.

    Unfortunately, it may be difficult for a Party that so quickly betrayed much of its core vote over tuition fees to avoid losing many more council seats in May and beyond – remember those fees kick in this September – although ” the knacker’s yard” to which the LibDems were consigned in an entertaining discussion earlier in the programme, is hopefully one for the birds……. including vultures.

  • MacK (Not a Lib Dem) 4th Apr '12 - 1:53pm

    @Mathew Huntbach

    Your arguments to justify the legitimacy of the coalition are as tortuous and circumlocuted as those who tried to maintain, against all the evidence, that the Sun travelled around the Earth. Spin it whichever way you wish but the fact is the Liberal Democrats are a party wich have no mandate to impose their policies on the country and can only do so through the political equivalent of symbiosis; completely changing their identity to suit the conditions of their host. The revisionism of so many aspects of your core political identity which I have adumbrated above expose you not just to charges of hypocrisy and dissembling but make you hugely vulnerable to ridicule. As far as the Liberal Democrats are concerned people have gone beyond anger: you are now simply a joke. Nothing reveals this more than the coalition’s apparent zeal for internet surveillaince and secret courts, which as a party you were absolutely against when Labour was in power.

  • Paul McKeown 4th Apr '12 - 2:45pm


    Does anyone have a mandate, then, to govern this country?

    Who is this unheralded legitimate government?

    Or is it just sour grapes, because your lot did even worse than the Conservatives?

  • Paul McKeown 4th Apr '12 - 3:39pm


    “As far as the Liberal Democrats are concerned people have gone beyond anger: you are now simply a joke. ”

    You seem to post a lot on a forum concerned with a joke party, then. Perhaps it’s because you write as you wish the world was, rather than as it is. In any case the joke appears to be on you.

  • Paul McKeown 4th Apr '12 - 4:26pm
  • David Allen 4th Apr '12 - 7:16pm

    Daniel Lewis said:

    “It is really important that we get out of this rather peculiar mindset of Left-Centre-Right! …..

    We as LibDems are a varied bunch, just like the other major parties, economically some of us are capitalist/neo-liberalist and some of us are more co-operative/communalist. But economy isn’t necessarily what makes us LibDems – more important is aspects of Human/Civil Rights and Freedom, our ability to work in co-operation and collaboration through peace and harmony, and our complete equality in society…. this doesn’t necessarily belong on the “Left”, “Right” or “Centre” (not even the “Radical Centre” or the “non-Socialist Left”)… it belongs in a mixture of Social Liberalism, Democracy and Radicalism – all of which the Liberal Democrats (and previous Liberal Party) have always stood for, and still do!”

    Five years ago, these comments might have looked fairly reasonable. To suggest that the Lib Dems were just not much bothered about economic issues, and really only got themselves worked up about freedom and civil rights, would no doubt have found favour with some voters – if not those struggling to survive, or working hard to better themselves. The claim that the Lib Dems are a “varied bunch”, with some sort of special capability to work in peace and harmony, might have brought forth a few wry grins from the electorate. However, the overall effect of the words would five years ago have been to portray the Lib Dems as an amiable, rather herbivorous group of politicians. A group who would probably be fairly harmless if elected to power, unlike their stronger opponents with nasty vested-interest agendas. Not a bad place to lob an idle protest vote if you don’t like the alternatives, in other words.

    But it won’t do to make that kind of appeal now. We now have a track record. We cannot soar loftily above left – right divisions, or express disdain for economic concerns, when we have endorsed a programme of savage cuts led by millionaires and designed to increase inequality. While we are telling the public that they should take an interest in the differences between a “radical Centre” and a “non-Socialist Left”, they are coping with riots in their streets, job losses, and the privatisation of health and education.

    We cannot be neutral about what Clegg and his allies have done to our party. It has been a huge shift in our position, even bigger than the changes wrought by Blair when he created New Labour. We can, with “Wit and Wisdom”, decide to celebrate the shift, and boast about how good it has been to ally ourselves with the Tories. Or we can declare that the shift has been disastrous, and that the party must reclaim its original principles. There is no middle way, no appeal to peace and harmony and the varied nature of our little bunch, that makes sense any more.

    Owen split the party by walking out. Clegg and his allies also split the party, just as surely, by adopting Tory policies and telling all those who didn’t like it that they should leave the party. Sorry Nick, I’m staying put, and I’ll see you out.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Apr '12 - 10:22pm


    Your arguments to justify the legitimacy of the coalition are as tortuous and circumlocuted as those who tried to maintain, against all the evidence, that the Sun travelled around the Earth.

    I think they are very clear – the government we have results from the distortion of the FPTP electoral system, and when asked about whether they supported that system the people of this country said, by two to one, that they did – after a ca,paign in which the victorious side raised its distortion as the main point in its favour.

    Spin it whichever way you wish but the fact is the Liberal Democrats are a party wich have no mandate to impose their policies on the country

    So, as Paul McKeown has already said, which party does have such a mandate?

    can only do so through the political equivalent of symbiosis; completely changing their identity to suit the conditions of their host

    Er, what point are you trying to make? First you say the Liberal Democrats have no mandate to impose their policies, then you complain that they aren’t imposing their policies but instead going along with another party’s policies. Surely by your first argument you should be very happy with the situation you claim to be the case in your second argument.

    Nothing reveals this more than the coalition’s apparent zeal for internet surveillaince and secret courts, which as a party you were absolutely against when Labour was in power.

    I don’t see any such zeal in the Liberal Democrats, I see none at all. So what point are you trying to make? The Liberal Democrats are in the position of being able to make only minor alterations to the Tory governments policies, and on this as on many others they are doing so, and every case where they are doing so it is in the direction of long-standing Liberal Democrat policy. It is disappointing they are not pushing it further that way, but, as I said, their ability to exert themselves is severely restricted thanks to the distortions of FPTP. Do you regard that as good or bad?

  • I regret to say that I believe that the present Coalition is no more than a Conservative government in all but name. This is, as has been stated here a gross electoral distortion thanks to FPTP, in that just 36% of the 2010 general election voted Conservative (No Toby MacDonnell, ‘most’ did not vote Tory, 64% of voters rejected them). You can guess I am a strong supporter of PR. However, I am not against political co-operation in principle, this Coalition however should have been much ‘less Tory’. In 2010 the Conservatives had not won an election for 18 years – they were desperate for their natural place in power. They would have conceded anything to the LibDems in exchange for power. Unfortunately the LibDems did not play hard ball, and are still not.

  • Jonathan Hunt 5th Apr '12 - 11:27am

    What I congratulated George on was the ability to see that labour is a broken party, and having the courage to commit mosr of Respect’s resources to fight in a city in the north beginning with B.

    We should have spotted the opportunity, even if we are not currently in a position to exploit it.

    It is time to go on the attack, and Labour should be the target.

    We are a party of the Left, with our belief in redistribution, freedom to and freedom from, social justice and fair play.

    But have the common sense not to label everything on the Left as a Dave Spart bunch of Trots seeking to bring about the revoltion in our lunchtime. Our position on the Left is entitely different. But we are Nowwhere Near the Centre, or not until George Galloway sweeps the country.

  • Jayne Mansfield 5th Apr '12 - 12:41pm

    @ Jonathan Hunt – to a non politician like myself, your party seems to be all over the place.

    I really don’t know what your party believes in.

    The people of Bradford who voted for George Galloway thought, rightly or wrongly, that he was on their side. On Newsnight, he mentioned that in the non- majority Muslim area around Bradford University, he polled 85% of the vote.

    According to reports, Nick Clegg wanted to row back from the party’s position on student fees long before the coalition, yet he still signed the pledge. If this is true, the issue for the Liberal Democrats is one on trust. Can we trust you? The ‘we are in coalition line is getting a bit thin’.

    It seems that the Bradford people thought that none of the main parties was on their side and I have some sympathy with that view. Bradford has areas of severe deprivation. Before attacking Labour or any other party, surely the party should be questioning why it has lost the support not only of Bradfordians but of people like me and my family, who you might reasonably have assumed were your ‘natural’ supporters.

    What is the socialist/ non-socialist left? I no longer know where I belong politically .

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