Tag Archives: centrist mush

No, the Liberal Democrats aren’t going to be absorbed by anyone. We have a job to do

Rachel Sylvester writes in the Times today (£) about the need for a realignment in politics. Her piece is pretty much a puff piece for Lovefilm founder, Simon Franks’ new vehicle, United for Change, which will apparently launch in the Spring. she makes an astonishing statement:

It’s too soon to say whether this will become the vehicle for the much needed reconfiguration but there is clearly an appetite for something different. Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former Downing Street chief of staff, is also co-ordinating discussions about a new political party. The Liberal Democrats have indicated that they would happily be absorbed into another party that shares their values.

Excuse me?

The Liberal Democrats have indicated that they would happily be absorbed into another party that shares their values.

Oh no, we bloody haven’t. Let’s be clear about that.

If any senior figure has said such a thing, then they have no right to do so. And they certainly can’t speak for our members who might have something to say about that.

The problem with these shiny new centre parties is obvious from a quick look at United for Change’s website:

Is there anything more vacuous than this:

BRITAIN IS GREAT, ITS POLITICS SHOULD BE TOO.

WE’RE BUILDING A PARTY PROUDLY BORN OUTSIDE OF WESTMINSTER.

Heavens. Donald Trump and Nigel Farage could sign up to something like that. What the hell do they stand for? The best thing I can say about it is that it didn’t put an apostrophe in the its.

The problem is that these sorts of centrist parties tend to be authoritarian in make-up and outlook. A member of such an organisation would have much less power than they would have as a member of the Liberal Democrats, where they could put forward ideas and vote on specific policy. Liberal Democrats are used to having much more say than I expect will be offered to supporters of United for Change.

Although note the similarities. Apparently UFC wants to sign up a whole load of supporters who will then get to vote for leader. Sound familiar?

My two biggest problems with our supporters’ scheme idea are that it’s a processy distraction from what we really need to be developing – our compelling and inspiring narrative of who we are and what we’re about and that it also distracts from the fact that we are a pretty open party that gives our members power.

UFC, from what I can see neither offers their members power nor has any compelling ideas. Two months before the SDP was formed, its four founders, Shirley Williams, David Owen, Roy Jenkins and Bill Rodgers, put out the Limehouse Declaration. It kicked some ass. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 69 Comments
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