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…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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9 Comments

  • Tristan Ward 26th Feb '24 - 10:39am

    It’s hard to disagree with anything Mark has said here, but we need to move further than just remarking on it.

    In particular: “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,”

    There is a huge opportunity for Liberal Democrats to pick up the votes of these disaffected people, in the main social liberal , horrified at the damage that has been inflicted on our society by the excesses of the unregulated market, but who still see the market as an essential tool for delivering social good. If we do this successfully we may be able to push a populist nasty “Conservative” party to the margin for a long time to come.

    But this does need us to be willing to talk about the benefits of economic liberalism (NOT neoliberalism) as well as the benefits of social liberalism. Dust down your copies of the Orange Book.

  • Sadly Tristan , all too often we’ve seen Western Social Liberal governments fail to make any fundamental difference in people’s lives – especially those that are drawn to the messaging the far right give..
    It’s that failure that has alienated a significant number of voters ..

  • while our primary aim is to get as many Libdems MPs as we can we should also be trying to damage The Tories in other ways & that means being careful how we criticise Labour.
    We should make it clear that The Tory Leadership are our Enemy while Labour are Rivals.

    Most of our disagreements with The Labour Government will take the form of urging them to do more, faster.

  • David Evans 26th Feb '24 - 1:07pm

    Martin, I’m agree, Mark and most of those at the centre are massively behind the curve here. Boris Johnson started to lose the One Nation Conservatives as soon as he became leader and the process steadily accelerated as his arrogance, sense of entitlement and imbecility became increasingly apparent. The number of times Shirley and I heard in local elections and by-elections that they “wouldn’t vote Conservative again” when given the right prompts, was clear. Indeed I suggested the first option on MiniVan was changed to “Not Tory” for rural canvassing because that it would be so much quicker to record.

    Then came Liz Truss showing that the capacity for national self harm knows no bounds in that party and now it is clear Rishi Sunak has only one policy – splash the cash (especially to rich Conservative donors). The One Nation Conservatives are dropping like ripe apples. Indeed if we just get out and talk to them, it is clear that they are traditional old school liberals wanting the liberty to sort out their own problems and a clear sense of loyalty to the local community. They should all be our own.

    The only problem is that our leading figures have almost completely missed this message and except in by elections there has been no organised attempt by the Lib Dems (other than in by-elections) to pick them up!

    That is why Labour are way ahead in the polls and we are stuck around 10%.

  • David Evans 26th Feb '24 - 1:11pm

    Apologies Tristran, my earlier comment should have been addressed to you and not Martin.

    Apologies to Martin as well.

  • Tristan Ward 26th Feb '24 - 2:27pm

    @David Evans

    “Indeed if we just get out and talk to them, it is clear that they are traditional old school liberals” and are dropping like flies.

    My experience too. It is not a coincidence that in Sevenoaks constituency (my own) the richest area has 100% Lib Dem representation (apart from the MP) while the poorest (a town called Swanley) is 100% Tory. There is not one Labour Councillor in the constituency.

  • Steve Trevethan 26th Feb '24 - 3:04pm

    The inherent flaws in Neoliberalism are becoming ever more evident. They include homelessness, hunger, dangerous and collapsing schools etc., understaffed infrastructures including medical care, revenue personnel, police etc.

    Such are inevitable consequences of two egregious errors of Neoliberalism:
    1) Lack of genuine/equitable competition
    2) The deadly dangerous delusion that regulation must be diminished/deleted

    1) Neoliberals make much of competition between private enterprises but this is delusional as the competitors are all the same in that they are privately owned and must seek maximum profits for their owners/shareholders. Antisocial consequences are ignored or minimized as we can see from the water/sewage companies etc. We have the antisocial consequences of shallow competition between members of the same cartels.

    2) Antisocial minimizing of regulations and good practices have weakened to destroyed essential, prosocial infrastructures, as exemplified by the Grenfell Tower disaster plus subsequent uncaring consequences and the lines of ambulances waiting outside A and E departments etc.

    Within its very essence, Liberal Democracy has the antidotes to and remedies for these problems which make our current society insufficiently caring and grossly inefficient.

    Might our party promote the need for real/deep competition between the private and state-owned plus, and the optimization of regulation which can be judged by results and so avoid our present problems resulting from ideological blindness?

  • duncan greenland 27th Feb '24 - 9:43am

    a big thank you to Mark for the wonderfully soothing Chopin musical interlude : an historic innovation on LibDemVoice I believe ?

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