Tag Archives: conservative extremism

Welcome to my day – 4 March 2024

There’s been a lot of talk about the Rochdale by-election and what it means for our democracy. And much of it has come from Conservatives and been alarmist in tone. My view is that, in a chaotic by-election where the Labour and Green candidates were disowned, and the Conservative absent without trace, those Rochdale voters who bothered to turn up gave the major parties a good kicking. And whilst having George Galloway as their MP solves very few of Rochdale’s real problems, he fought the most effective campaign in the by-election and won accordingly. Opportunistic? Certainly. Likely to change British politics? Not if sensible politicians hold their nerve and demonstrate their principles.

But whilst we’re being told to worry about mob rule, you do wonder about the audacity of Conservative politicians, who’ve pandered to extremists to the extent now that many of them are parroting their line for them, warning us that our democracy is at threat. I’m far more worried about the impact of the likes of Anderson, Braverman and Jenrick, and the gutless prevarication (or worse) of too many Conservative MPs, unable to call out Islamophobia amongst their own and desperately fingerpointing at a Labour Party whose past issues of antisemitism have at least been acknowledged and addressed.

As Liberal Democrats, we should be calling out the failures of individuals rather than making blanket accusations about political parties. All political parties have members whose views are, at the very least, problematic. Our responsibility as political activists is to be as willing to call out our own as we are our opponents. That isn’t easy. The temptation to make allowances for our side as opposed to theirs is great, but if we want a healthier, more decent, body politic, we need to be vigilant and consistent.

The Conservative response appears to be to attempt to scare voters back into their camp solution by “othering” those least likely to vote for them. I lived in London for most of my life, and unless the city has changed fundamentally – and I don’t believe that it has – the influence of Islamist extremists, whatever that means and whoever they are – is limited to say the least. And when Paul Scully, the former Minister for London, suggested that there were no-go areas in our nation’s capital, my first thought was that he’d gone utterly mad. And whilst he has apologised, (“that is not who I am”), I think that his comments were idiotic, playing into the mood of his extremist colleagues, and something more concrete and positive than a mere apology should be forthcoming. A gesture of goodwill towards the people of Tower Hamlets, perhaps, Mr Scully?

But with the Conservatives in chaos, and Reform UK polling at levels which should keep Tory strategists awake at night, the prospect of a crushing defeat looms large and discipline is increasingly hard to come by.

And so to this week’s musical contribution, and given that most of our readers will be hoping for a change of government, here’s something that reflects those hopes, from Aretha Franklin…

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments

Welcome to my day: 26 February 2024 – the Nasty Party, blue in tooth and claw?…

I was a little tardy last week, which I blame on the beach I was sitting on in Bali. But, still slightly jet-lagged, I return for another Monday here at LDV Towers.

And it seems that, whilst I was away, all sense of Conservative discipline has gone, blown to the four winds. The idea that senior figures in the Party, Members of Parliament, Cabinet members, former Prime Ministers, could suggest that the country is under the control of “Islamists”, or is run by the “Deep State” should horrify any sane member of their Party. But no, the line is to suggest that they don’t really mean it, or that we’re all being too sensitive. And, with a Leader too frit to take serious action – and in the case of Lee Anderson, would an apology really have sufficed? – we can expect to see many more provocations as Conservatives attempt to shore up support amongst racists and bigots.

But, as a Civil Service trans activist (or am I an environmental extremist?), I would be concerned by Liz Truss, wouldn’t I? For the record, I’ve not encountered either in the workplace during my many years of public service.

There is an issue though which might concern a Conservative thinker, which is this. If your party has spent decades denigrating the public sector, and lauding the private sector, should you be surprised when your supporters opt to take the money? And, if you depress public sector salaries over the fourteen years that you’ve been in office, should you be terribly surprised when only the more altruistic opt to work in government, central or local? After all, altruism doesn’t appear to be high on the list of Conservative principles these days.

And the apparent glee with which James Cleverly announced last week that he will be banning overseas care workers from bringing dependents with them is merely another mark of how low they will stoop to secure what they see as a core voting group. What such people will think if it becomes apparent that there isn’t anyone willing to look after Granny is, obviously, a problem for another day.

I’m not convinced that moving ever further towards the nationalist right offers much hope for the Conservatives though, given that Reform UK offer greater clarity for the sort of voters for which such a programme appeals, but there is a risk that they lose those who might consider themselves One Nation Conservatives in the process, leaving them worse off overall. But such a thought process would require some rational thinking, and I’m not convinced that the Government are at home to the concept just now.

But enough depression about our politics. Here’s Chopin’s Nocturne in A Flat major, played by Grigory Sokolov, to soothe the savage breast…

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments
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