Tag Archives: political culture

What a peaceful transition of power should look like

I might have known that after I had written about Obama’s inauguration speech earlier, how I would fall down the rabbit hole of the Obama White House You Tube Channel.

I came across the unveilings of the official portraits of George W and Laura Bush. Now, I am not a fan of him or his presidency at all. It is, however, very difficult not to love Laura.

Despite all that, when you watch all the speeches from the Obamas and the Bushes, you pick up a real warmth between them.

There was not a lot of common ground between them when Obama took office, but he went to great pains to point out how helpful Bush had been to him, then and since, and how there was quite a rapport between all the living occupants of the Oval Office. It is enjoyable to watch.

I think back to 1992, when Bill Clinton won after a pretty fraught election campaign with not a lot of love on either side. The first President Bush was similarly helpful and graceful to his successor and they struck up an enduring friendship as a result.

Obviously, this is not going to happen this time round, but Donald Trump, as in so many other ways, is very much the aberration here.

We need to see more examples of people with totally opposing views can behave with grace towards one another without compromising their principles. We need to follow the example of our own Charles Kennedy, whose friendship with Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell had been so important to both of them, as we found out after he died.  Charles had been subjected to the most appalling abuse for his opposition to the Iraq War, yet away from the heat, those two had a close personal friendship.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 14 Comments

When people talk about the poisoning of political discourse in this country, this is what they are talking about

Hi. I’m Jennie. I was a Lib Dem for a long time. Now I’m not. However, the bonds and friendships you forge over that kind of length of time don’t just break when you’re not a party member any more. So when my mum was rushed into hospital last night with a collapsed lung after having had surgery for cancer last week, there were a lot of Lib Dems among the people expressing sympathy and wishing me well.

Here’s one of them:

Now, yes, that’s the leader of a political party. But that’s also a human being, reaching out to a fellow human being in pain, with sympathy and compassion.

Don’t click through to the replies. Really, don’t. I’ve blocked all the nasty ones anyway… And yet maybe you should. Maybe you should go and look at these people who think the best response to someone expressing sympathy for a friend is to excoriate them. Maybe you should go and look at those replies and wonder: how did we get here?

I want to ask, what do those people think they are achieving? Who do they think they are convincing? Someone whose mum is in hospital with a collapsed lung after surgery to remove cancer? Someone who is gently reaching out to provide comfort? What good are they doing for their cause here? Who is going to read those replies and think “yeah, you stick it to the daughter of the cancer sufferer!” What possible benefit can they be gaining?

Having had a tiny taste of the abuse she gets just for existing in the public sphere, I have to say: I wouldn’t be Jo Swinson for all the tea in China right now. And I am not (I was famously described by one of the editors of this website as not) by any means a shrinking violet.

I don’t know what the solution to this is. And, you know, my mum is in hospital, I’ve got that to concentrate on right now. But there must BE a solution, and I think it behoves us all to find it. There must be a way we can conduct debate in this country without ending up in endless shouts of abuse.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 20 Comments

Draining the British Swamp

It’s not been a good week for British politics has it?! Our Ambassador to the USA was forced to resign because Johnson wouldn’t publicly support him for doing the job we paid him to do. Labour anti-Semitism was exposed in great detail on the Panorama Programme with a response from Labour that attacked the messenger and tried to excuse their behaviour by saying that the Tories are just as bad. The Tory Leadership contenders have been exposed as either liars or fools.

Then there was the Brexit MEP who thought we should do a ‘Belgrano’ and sink foreign shipping craft within …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 29 Comments

Mockery of Diane Abbott shows why our political culture needs to change

Labour MP Diane Abbott is being roundly mocked in various parts of the internet because of a question she asked as Shadow International Development Secretary, a position she held until last week when she was promoted to Shadow Health Secretary.

She asked:

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps she has taken to assist people in the Indonesian province of Province of Davao del Norte affected by the drought in that province.

The reply was crushing:

There is no province called Davao del Norte in Indonesia.

Actually, there is a place called Davao del Norte suffering droughts. In the Philippines. So a staffer in Diane Abbott’s office made a mistake. We all do it. Why make a fuss?

The Guido Fawkes blog has been one of those poking fun at Abbott. It’s not surprising behaviour from a right wing sensationalist site.

Posted in Op-eds | 20 Comments

LibLink: Julian Huppert: Safe seats and second jobs are at the root of the Rifkind/Straw mess

Julian Huppert MPAs Parliament prepares to debate whether MPs should have second jobs, Julian Huppert has written on the controversy surrounding Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind for the Guardian.

He attacks what he calls an “abhorrent” and “unacceptable” aspect of our political culture and sets out why he thinks there should be more regulation of MPs’ outside interests.

Many of us work night and day to get through our work. We find it is the equivalent of having two full-time jobs – one in Westminster and one in the constituency.

But there are just far too many who don’t behave that way. They’ve been here so long a sense of duty morphs into one of entitlement. They get caught up with the pomp and ceremony, allowing the link between the public and their parliamentary role to unravel.

At the crux of this failure is our electoral system. Safe seats generate complacency. They give many MPs the opportunity to sit back, knowing they’ll get re-elected again and again. And it is often in safe seats where some MPs find they have enough time to take on two jobs. Suddenly they believe they don’t need to respond to casework or do the work in parliament. They are above all that – and why shouldn’t they earn £5,000 a day at the end of their careers?

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 13 Comments

Cleaning up politics is about more than money

When we talk about cleaning up politics, we generally mean party funding and lobbying. There is so much more that needs to be done, though with regards to the environment in which politics is conducted.

Every week when Parliament is sitting we see the childish scenes at PMQs. We’ve had our own Julian Huppert talk about how it feels to be on the receiving end of bullying and intimidating behaviour.

The tone of debate on social media often leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you happen to be a woman in possession of an opinion. The cumulative effect of constantly being told you are evil/stupid/treacherous or being threatened  is not insignificant. I recently had a bit of a wobble after months of bombardment from cybernats, UKIP types and, even more distressingly, a small number of fellow Liberal Democrats. However much you try to ignore it, it can get overwhelming at times. I don’t have a problem with actual calm and rational debate but every single day, people cross the line into abuse and that’s just not on. I was livid with myself for getting so upset. After all, in large parts of the world, simply finding somewhere private to go to the toilet entails taking your life in your hands if you happen to be female, so it felt very trivial to almost reduced to tears by a jibe from some stranger whose good opinion mattered to me not one jot. It was utterly ridiculous, but it happened nonetheless. Of course, this is the sort of reaction these bullies want and, given that I intend to continue inflicting my views on the world, I just needed to find a way of dealing with it which mostly involved the support of good people who know who they are.  It shouldn’t be like that, though.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • David Evans
    I know it is a disappointment to many to hear that idealistic liberalism is not the be all and end all of so many people’s lives (including many perfectly goo...
  • Tom Harney
    How can we believe that arguing about numbers is going to help us? Statistics are helpful to help us look at the real situations of real people. That is what we...
  • john oundle
    Jeff 'The UK was once 10th. worst for deaths per million, but is now in 26th. place. Moreover, recent analysis of excess deaths by the ONS suggests that UK d...
  • Simon R
    *sigh* What on Earth is the problem with using technology to make people's lives better? This reminds me of 15-ish years ago when the LibDems were against the n...
  • Lorenzo Cherin
    Matt thanks you my valued friend . I know what you experience and it is reflected in how strong you articulate it. Others here, see my link, and comments,...