Tag Archives: values

TIG’s not it

When you are an active member of a political party, the amount of the infrastructure of your life that is embedded in it is colossal. My husband knows that we have a bird of liberty as well as a spaniel determinedly pushing its way between us when we try to grab some time together.

Our lives revolve round election cycles and meetings and protest marches. And this blog.

Most of my best friends are in the Liberal Democrats. To be honest, I think they would still be my best friends wherever our lives took us, but, still, I share stuff with them that if we were in different parties I wouldn’t be able to any more.

Making the decision to leave is difficult and painful and not at all easily taken.

So when I see people leaving the Labour Party when they have finally reached the end of their rope with Jeremy Corbyn, I know how hard it must have been for them. I respect them for having the courage to do so.

I like some of them a lot on a personal level and I have no problem with working with them on the areas where we share common aims.

However, I am underwhelmed by their statement of values on their website. Some of them are fine – just a bit motherhood and apple pie.However, parts of it made me cringe:

…the first duty of government must be to defend its people and do whatever it takes to safeguard Britain’s national security.

It’s a bit hawkish. I get that they are trying to get away from the spectre of Corbyn, but the first thing above all else, when 3 million of our citizens are about to have their rights massively downgraded and people have trouble putting food on the table? Really?

There are also some real deserving/undeserving poor undertones to it – and an echo of that awful phrase “hard working families.”

I think the thing that bothered me most, though, was:

We believe that our parliamentary democracy in which our elected representatives deliberate, decide and provide leadership, held accountable by their whole electorate is the best system of representing the views of the British people.

I get that they are restating the obvious that democracy is a good thing, but you can’t say that politics is broken and then say that our way of doing it is best. How much more powerful would it have been if they had said, as we do, that our political institutions need redesigning and rebuilding so that people get the Parliament that they ask for. If they did, the country would not be in its current disastrous pickle.

I lived through the birth of the SDP 40 years ago and it genuinely felt exciting. They used phrases like “breaking the mould” and talked about pursuing a reforming agenda in every area of life. This doesn’t have that coherent approach. It’s like TIG’s members can agree what they’re against – the various circles of Hell in Corbyn’s Labour – but writing a coherent vision statement has not come easy. In some ways their statement is more cry of pain than beacon lighting our path.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 18 Comments

Does “Open, tolerant and united” fully project what the Liberal Democrats are about?

“Open, tolerant and united.” It’s the phrase you will hear in many Liberal Democrats speeches and press comments at the moment. It seems to be taking the place of “Stronger Economy, Fairer Society.” But is it what we should be saying right now?

It’s not a bad thing. You wouldn’t have found anyone saying that they actively wanted a weak economy and an unfair society, but here is evidence everywhere that some people  want us to be isolated, intolerant and divided. The referendum result gave a massive boost to those malevolent forces who thrive on fear and hatred and brought them from the fringes into the very heart of our political culture.  Being openly racist is becoming more acceptable and that’s something we need to be standing up against.

So, it’s ok to have those values at this time.  Openness – which to me encompasses co-operation, generosity of spirit, curiosity and willingness to listen. Tolerant means that we accept our differences and let everyone live life as they wish so long as it doesn’t infringe anyone else’s rights. United. Now, that’s a funny one. I don’t want a divided country like we quite obviously have at the moment. I don’t want my country to break up, either, however much I might have wanted to saw England off and cast it into the Atlantic on its own at around 5 in the morning of 24th June. But I’m not sure I absolutely want a united country. That’s a bit too conformist for a free spirit like me. I want a country where everyone lives together peaceably, with common values of freedom and generosity. I’m just not sure united is the right word when it’s our differences that help us learn and explore and succeed. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 23 Comments
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