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Thread: The British Liberal Democrats

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    Default The British Liberal Democrats

    apologies for starting a deeply parochial, inchoate mess of a post but what is going on here?

    Clegg with his vision to stake out the party's turf as the new progressive wing of British politics: what does anyone think about that? just conference season talk on the one hand, yes, but on the other, they'll never have a better time to put more distance between themselves and Labour and the Tories.

    can someone who follows British politics explain if there is any likelihood of an LD schism in the future between the classical liberals in their ranks and the social liberals?
    granted, all Tories, some Labour, and all LDs have opposed much of the Blair/Brown social authoritarianism/paternalism of recent years, but just because all LDs make the right noises about libel laws, protest and privacy, it doesn't follow that the more classical liberal branch of their ranks is going to follow the social democrats leftwards.

    also Vince Cable is i'm sure a fine human being, certainly seems a nice chap, and can string together a coherent, non-repellant sentence - which is more than most major British politicians - but he only looks so attractive because everyone else is Ed Balls or George Osborne. interesting he started off Labour.

    sorry to make such an obvious point but he is getting sacred cow status for me (i even put this in that thread in the Music section!). hope this doesn't sound overly sectarian but realise it may.
    Last edited by scottdisco; 22-09-2009 at 12:51 PM. Reason: i iz not knowing wot i iz sayin

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    now, i may of course be entirely wrong here but i thought a good portion of the LDs remain Orange Book libertarians, essentially, polite Tories? in which case Clegg's call to arms means nothing for those in his party this description still covers, does it not?
    Don't really know what Orange Book libertarians means, but the Lib Dems are just socially liberal, nothing libertarian about their economic policies. Don't get where they're going under Clegg - Labour are weak, so move/stay left to take their ground. Makes sense, right? Instead they're moving right, alienating and pissing off their public sector voters with "savage cuts" - inspired, no doubt, by all the polling suggesting people think cuts are needed - and already backtracking.

    You'd expect them to oppose the Blairite security state - that's what they're there for. But in every other respect they seem to be trying to nudge in between Labour and Tory, though their best results came under Kennedy, when they cast themselves to Labour's left.

    Don't wanna over-personalise it, but can't stand Clegg, who just sounds like Cameron with a more middle-England accent. Vince, otoh, got the props.

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    Suicidal organisation who got rid of kennedy for a man named Ming. On the face of things Clegg seems to be an interim leader who is just there unitl someone better comes round.

    Nevertheless I don't get why the electorate never vote for them, presumably because "they've no chance of winning anyway", vicious cycle foolishness. At the end of the day give a party 10 years in power and eventually everyone will hate them. You may be gagging for Cameron to be elected next year, but surely you can remember that you voted out the Tories in the 90's for the same reason- vice versa with labour supporters. Whereas the last time the Liberal Democrats fucked up was 80 years ago. They should have got much more votes in recent years. As an aside, 7/7 would have probably happened anyway, but voting Labour & Conservative back in was very risky.

    But could it be that they are a small organisation and don't have the people/ resources to properly contest every constituency? I would be surprised if this were the case though, but perhaps it's what people are thinking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by owengriffiths View Post
    Suicidal organisation who got rid of kennedy for a man named Ming. On the face of things Clegg seems to be an interim leader who is just there unitl someone better comes round.
    Clegg was chosen cos he was the closest they had to a Blair/Cameron fresh face and the furthest possible away from MIng.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crackerjack View Post
    Don't really know what Orange Book libertarians means, but the Lib Dems are just socially liberal, nothing libertarian about their economic policies. Don't get where they're going under Clegg - Labour are weak, so move/stay left to take their ground. Makes sense, right? Instead they're moving right, alienating and pissing off their public sector voters with "savage cuts" - inspired, no doubt, by all the polling suggesting people think cuts are needed - and already backtracking.

    You'd expect them to oppose the Blairite security state - that's what they're there for. But in every other respect they seem to be trying to nudge in between Labour and Tory, though their best results came under Kennedy, when they cast themselves to Labour's left.

    Don't wanna over-personalise it, but can't stand Clegg, who just sounds like Cameron with a more middle-England accent. Vince, otoh, got the props.
    cheers for this folks, good answers and over-views so far. Crackerjack, you're quite right, "libertarian" from me is the height of political illiteracy, i will scratch it.

    fair to say i won't be getting any work with Cato any time soon

    i meant to say i am giving the Wiki on same the benefit of the doubt when they wrote

    In the book the group offers liberal solutions – often stressing the role of the free market – to several societal issues, such as health, pensions, environment, globalisation, social and agricultural policy, local government, the European Union and prisons. It is usually seen as the most economically liberal book the Liberal Democrats have produced in recent times. Such, along with its impact upon the party, it has helped cause the dividing line within the party: those who advocate a restricted market observing social democratic values and those (such as authors, contributors and supporters of the Orange Book) who advocate a free market.
    economic liberals yes, maybe, but when i recall the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts proposed scrapping all taxes at the last US election i think it's fair to say i've just failed my Politics A/S.

    incidentally, does anyone else think Cameron and Clegg bear more than a slight passing resemblance?
    i look forward to seeing them on the same SKY News podium..

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    Quote Originally Posted by scottdisco View Post
    is any likelihood of an LD schism in the future between the classical liberals in their ranks and the social liberals?
    They just don't really seem the type for bitter feuds between disparate elements of the party, do they? Mind you, there certainly is an element of tension between the liberal and social-democratic aspects of the party (a legacy of their formation from the old Alliance, perhaps?)

    The thing is, they also face a bit of a conundrum in terms of electoral strategy. Much of their recent (comparative) electoral success has been at the expense of the Tories. This leaves them with many MPs representing areas with large numbers of middle-class voters in areas like Richmond, Kingston or Winchester, who are likely to be vulnerable to Cameron's resurgent Conservatives and so rather nervous about any leftward moves (this might be the cause of some of the revolt over taxing high-value properties). But, future gains are far more likely to be due to picking up disillusioned Labour supporters for whom guarantees of levels of public service would be attractive.

    So, they have to find a way to appeal to left-leaning voters without causing uproar amongst many of their MPs who are scared for their future. The sort of thing that requires well thought out policies and strong leadership - not really something that springs to mind when you think of Nick Clegg...

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    Quote Originally Posted by owengriffiths View Post
    Suicidal organisation who got rid of kennedy for a man named Ming. On the face of things Clegg seems to be an interim leader who is just there unitl someone better comes round.

    Nevertheless I don't get why the electorate never vote for them, presumably because "they've no chance of winning anyway", vicious cycle foolishness. At the end of the day give a party 10 years in power and eventually everyone will hate them. You may be gagging for Cameron to be elected next year, but surely you can remember that you voted out the Tories in the 90's for the same reason- vice versa with labour supporters. Whereas the last time the Liberal Democrats fucked up was 80 years ago. They should have got much more votes in recent years. As an aside, 7/7 would have probably happened anyway, but voting Labour & Conservative back in was very risky.

    But could it be that they are a small organisation and don't have the people/ resources to properly contest every constituency? I would be surprised if this were the case though, but perhaps it's what people are thinking.
    you make a valid point that they are all shit and essentially uk democracy boils down to being able to give the incumbents a kick up the arse every four years.

    but the lib dems are not that great to be honest. the main problem is with them is that they will say or do anything and pretend to be all things to all men. hence the poisonous and racist tower hamlets campaign amongst other things.
    http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org...68/nineham.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by slightly crooked View Post
    The thing is, they also face a bit of a conundrum in terms of electoral strategy. Much of their recent (comparative) electoral success has been at the expense of the Tories. This leaves them with many MPs representing areas with large numbers of middle-class voters in areas like Richmond, Kingston or Winchester, who are likely to be vulnerable to Cameron's resurgent Conservatives and so rather nervous about any leftward moves (this might be the cause of some of the revolt over taxing high-value properties). But, future gains are far more likely to be due to picking up disillusioned Labour supporters for whom guarantees of levels of public service would be attractive.
    cheers, a very good point.

    Quote Originally Posted by bassnation View Post
    you make a valid point that they are all shit and essentially uk democracy boils down to being able to give the incumbents a kick up the arse every four years.

    but the lib dems are not that great to be honest. the main problem is with them is that they will say or do anything and pretend to be all things to all men. hence the poisonous and racist tower hamlets campaign amongst other things.
    http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org...68/nineham.htm
    tbf i'd like to think the LDs of today have learnt lessons from that wicked time; i mean, i don't think they're all going to go around making homophobia a set-piece if it suits them these days as Simon Hughes once did against Tatchell in Bermondsey.

    have you got anything a bit more recent?

    full disclosure: i am not a LD supporter or anything in any way, etc, so hardly interested in sticking up for them as such, did vote for them in a local once mind (there has to be tactical round my way sometimes).
    Last edited by scottdisco; 23-09-2009 at 09:37 AM. Reason: removed stuff

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    Quote Originally Posted by scottdisco View Post
    cheers, a very good point.



    tbf i'd like to think the LDs of today have learnt lessons from that wicked time; i mean, i don't think they're all going to go around making homophobia a set-piece if it suits them these days as Simon Hughes once did against Tatchell in Bermondsey.

    have you got anything a bit more recent?

    full disclosure: i am not a LD supporter or anything in any way, etc, so hardly interested in sticking up for them as such, did vote for them in a local once mind (there has to be tactical round my way sometimes).
    i don't forgive political parties for campaigning on homophobic or racist grounds. its not like its ancient history - in particular the simon hughes thing was only a few years ago.

    to be fair to them, they were the only anti war party and i like vince cable. but they've long been known to campaign vociferously on local issues, which is all well and good, but i'm in agreement with the recent guardian article (which i am struggling to find) that argues that while such strategies play well with voters in the short term, really many of the issues that people care about are national in nature - for example ending the postcode lottery on health provision etc.
    Last edited by bassnation; 23-09-2009 at 09:54 AM.

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    fair enough re the racism/homophobia and i am sympathetic to the local/national split argument you echo w the Guardian.

    i know Tatchell forgave Hughes although the details of what happened in Bermondsey back then are indeed vicious.

    incidentally that link worth clicking on for the final paragraph as Tatchell makes an interesting point - see myself up-thread - about the Orange Book LDs.
    The Wiki notes

    Beside Laws and Marshall, the contributors include Vincent Cable, Nick Clegg, Edward Davey, Chris Huhne, Susan Kramer, Mark Oaten and Steve Webb.
    i must admit Oaten was the only LD i've had time for in recent years and that boiled down to - when he was their Home brief - him speaking in sensible, humane terms about asylum seekers, economic migrants and so on, as opposed to the populist, xenophobic garbage seeping out from Labour or the Tories.

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    A head-shakingly hopeless shower of a party. Their boldest move being the Orange Book: that common sense, obvious, but also desperate and venal attempt by right-ish liberals to reclaim the mantle of...Locke and Mill! A combination of pygmy Hayeks and soft focus-filtered corporatists led by Vince Cable, himself a sort of neutered, parochial, small-time Heseltine.

    Another bold move they are now famous for is, of course, the time Lembit Opik cheated on Maesteg weather girl Sian Lloyd with one of the Cheeky Girls. I actually saw Opik scything down Whitehall once and he did actually have “the vision thing” – the weird look that intra-Westminster intrigue and obssession gives these elected fuckers. (One thing I like about Peter Hain is that he avoids it by retaining an honest glare of big Cat hunger in his eyes. David Blunkett avoids it altogther by being blind.)

    This is a party that was at its most dynamic and relevant when it was a vehicle for Paddy Ashdown. At its most charming when putting on a brave face during Charles Kennedy's Scotch-on-the-Caledonian-Sleeper blues and subsequent rim-eyed crack-up laced with gallows humour bad jokes. They were at their most worthless when lead from the front by that self-infatuated pensioner Ming Campbell, who spent most of his time making pathetic paw-scratches at the Iraq war so somebody (a moo-ing Question Time audience member? The Independent ’s editorial board?) would forgive him for deposing the alcoholic game show star.They were at their most loathsome and laughable when they finally pushed that over-ripe dauphin over the edge of the conference stage only to replace him with a...Cameron clone! And weren’t they lucky to find him.

    Who? Who the fuck am I even talking about? What is the existential role of Nick Clegg? He has even less of a reason for being a minister than Cameron who has even less of a reason for being a Prime Minister than Blair did who, until God got involved, was a pure politician, a political gamer.

    None of this would matter if they had a clear or indentifiable political programme or persuasion or base. As it is, the LD political class is even more distanced from its activists (it only really has activists, rather than grassroots or core voters) than Labour or the Tories. And you can’t really blame them – in fact, if you’ve ever come across LD activists, you can understand why they keep a distance. A strange, cultish, evangelical brand of political enthusiast, they give me the creeps too.

    With their founding pedigree (the talented streams that converged at the creation) and the rich tradition that their name gives them access to, the Liberal Democrats should be producing our Whigs or maybe a Gladstone. Sadly for them, Peter Mandelson is already an epitome of Whig; perhaps the most perfect possible contemporary Whig. And Blair was our Gladstone. Unless he was our Disraeli. (Or a mixture of both, with each tendency corroding the other.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    A head-shakingly hopeless shower of a party. Their boldest move being the Orange Book: that common sense, obvious, but also desperate and venal attempt by right-ish liberals to reclaim the mantle of...Locke and Mill! A combination of pygmy Hayeks and soft focus-filtered corporatists led by Vince Cable, himself a sort of neutered, parochial, small-time Heseltine.
    i don't understand why you think the uk needs another centre right party - its hardly as if there's a deficit of politicians in the middle ground is there? its a dreadful idea and an affront to democracy and proper, real representation when all the parties trot out the same tired old thatcherite policies. thats the entire reason why i haven't voted for the last two general elections.

    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    Another bold move they are now famous for is, of course, the time Lembit Opik cheated on Maesteg weather girl Sian Lloyd with one of the Cheeky Girls.
    lucky bastard, thats all i can say. he is pretty weird though.

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    i don't understand why you think the uk needs another centre right party - its hardly as if there's a deficit of politicians in the middle ground is there? its a dreadful idea and an affront to democracy and proper, real representation when all the parties trot out the same tired old thatcherite policies. thats the entire reason why i haven't voted for the last two general elections.
    I don't particularly. I wasn't advocating a thing, merely dissecting a position.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by craner
    Another bold move they are now famous for is, of course, the time Lembit Opik cheated on Maesteg weather girl Sian Lloyd with one of the Cheeky Girls.

    lucky bastard, thats all i can say. he is pretty weird though.
    Hmm, I dunno. I thought that was pretty gross all round.

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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    Hmm, I dunno. I thought that was pretty gross all round.
    are you mad? lembit doesn't do it for me though, i have to say - that lopsided crazy face. he really is a bizarre eccentric.

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