Tag Archives: being a liberal democrat candidate

The Problem of Centrism

Last time, we established the party’s lack of identity and direction stemming from the overuse of the term “moderate”. With this in mind, we can turn our attention to the problems that the term “centrism” presents.

The centre position is one that the party has found itself in since the 1920s, as an inevitability owing to the rise of Labour, with it being officially recognised in the 1980s during the Alliance as a selling point for possible coalition government. What, then, is wrong with this?

The first problem is similar to that of moderation – the conflation of terms. The term “liberal” has been wedded with the term “centrist” in a similar fashion. This comes from the idea that centrism is, somehow, an ideology unto itself. When it is not. Centrism is a position on the political spectrum but it does not have ideals or a worldview that underpin it.

The Left, collectively, is not an ideology, and neither is the Right. Rather, they are groups of ideologies that run along similar ideas and liberalism, with its myriad and varied schools, is an ideological spectrum unto itself, able to stretch across Left and Right. One would not call a radical a right winger, and an Orange Booker is not leftward. To put it this way – if tomorrow the party dropped all of its liberal trappings and went, instead, toward social democracy and progressivism it would still find itself in the centre. Not because these are “centrist” in scope but simply because the party as an entity is squashed between Labour and the Conservatives.

But this, I acknowledge, can be seen as nothing more than pedantry. A more pressing problem is found in the inherent instability of the centre. Due to the reliance it has upon the Overton Window it is impossible to remain truly in the centre for very long. Indeed, it shifts leftwards and rightwards, or even shatters under the weight of what is considered to be “common sense” and “conventional wisdom”. The Conservatives currently claim the centre as the country occupies a status quo that favours them. Labour, once they win, will, if their plans work out, be able to claim it after the first term. The Liberal Democrats, however, occupy the same space as we did a decade ago, and therefore no longer representative of anyone in wider society, apart from some disconnected special interest groups. In short, during these polarised times, the very term “centrism” becomes meaningless.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

The Problem of Moderation

A question that has plagued the party since inception and has, in recent years, come to the forefront is the question of identity. How do the Liberal Democrats define themselves? It seems to me that when members and supporters speak about the topic the same two words repeat themselves – “moderate” and “centrist”. As a result, these words have become synonymous with the term “liberal”. This article, the first of two, will cover the problems I have identified with this synonymity, the first target being the term “moderate”.

The main problem lies in how the term is actually used. For example, when one takes a diet of moderation all things are accounted for and everything is presented on the plate in equal measure. This approach, however, is not one that quite works within internal party political discourse. When we mention, say, Ken Clarke we can quantify him as being a “moderate Tory”, a believer in conservatism with a leash. Owen Smith is a “Labour moderate”, a social democrat rather than a democratic socialist – a Labourite with a leash. They still belong to the Right and to the Left but they do not take their ideologies too far.

Yet when it comes to a Liberal Democrat the same cannot be said. Who can, or could, be described as a “moderate Lib Dem”? This term would be akin to tying a tight leash around a short leash in a mobius strip of stasis.

So, then, one can only be “moderate” relative to the rest of the party or ideological camp that one finds oneself in. Now this is established we can get to the root of the problem, one of the party’s actual ideology, or ideological spectrum. The other parties can have moderates as they have ideological principals that underpin their ideas. Moderates, just like everyone else around them, agree with the means, goals, and ends of the parties they represent.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 23 Comments

Future Women MPs Weekend 2018 – back by popular demand

Female? An aspiring MP? This is the event for you!

Normally an annual event, the Campaign for Gender Balance and the Candidates and Diversity Team will be running a second Future Women MPs Weekend to support and develop female talent within the party.

Empowering and thought-provoking, this intensive training weekend for aspiring female MPs will provide you with the knowledge and skills required to run as a successful candidate.

Many current and former female Lib Dem MPs started their journeys at an FWMP event and you could be next!

The invaluable opportunities, skills and advice you will gain include:

  1. How

Posted in News | 4 Comments

6 things I learned from being an unlikely candidate

Sometimes being a candidate just happens

When I went to my first ever Scottish Spring Conference this year, I had few expectations. I expected to debate, to meet up with Lib Dem friends, and to listen to some interesting talks. I didn’t quite expect to find myself on the ballot paper this May. Sometimes living next door to seat with no current Lib Dem candidate is enough.

I was told that in the recent by-election we had come 5th, behind UKIP. This time only 4 parties were running. “Oh good,” I said, “I’ll move us up a place.”

All Candidates give a speech at the count

This was also my first time attending a count. Confession time: Because I’ve only seen counts on TV, I genuinely thought only the winners spoke after the result. Not even I am optimistic enough to prepare a speech just in case, so after the result I found myself addressing a room of people not knowing quite what to say. I think this pleased the returning officer at least, who had begged for brevity before we mounted the stage.

You get a lot of emails

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Evans 14th Dec - 1:08am
    David Warren, Indeed you are right. Unfortunately our MPs have a reputation of putting looking after the Conservatives ahead of looking after our Voters and...
  • User AvatarGlenn 13th Dec - 10:53pm
    Frankie Spell my name right and learn what a nuanced response is. The term hardliner refers to someone with unbending beliefs and a refusal to...
  • User Avatarexpats 13th Dec - 10:31pm
    Paul D B 13th Dec '18 - 9:40pm..........People should not be apologists for the Labour Party. They created the free-loading loosely regulated conditions (in parallel...
  • User AvatarSean Hyland 13th Dec - 10:29pm
    Paul D B - note that i was not apologising for Labour. Just saying to correct your initial post that they caused the 2008 crash....
  • User Avatarexpats 13th Dec - 10:20pm
    David Raw 13th Dec '18 - 9:10pm @ expats. Come on old lad, that Boris is a real hard man who learned his trade in...
  • User AvatarSean Hagan 13th Dec - 10:14pm
    @Yeovil Yokel: As Commons Speaker, John Bercow does not currently sit as a Conservative MP, so was not amongst the 317 who had a vote...