Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Friday, 18 September 2009

My Liberal Moment

There has been a fair bit of comment in the Lib Dem blogosphere in the last couple of days about the document that Nick Clegg produced recently called "The Liberal Moment".

Well, like a good little Lib Dem blogger I have tried to read it all but various work stuff has got in the way and I am only about half way through it. I am actually quite enjoying it though and agreeing with a fair bit so far. Maybe this is what some others have implied about it "tickling liberal erogenous zones". If so, then that's fine by me! Helps to confirm that my political instincts are quite closely aligned with that of the party.

I will try and finish reading it over the next few days when I am at the Lib Dem conference. I better had actually because when I am on the radio on Monday they will probably ask about it and I don't want to look like I have not done my homework!

Anyway, I am nearly half way through it now and whilst I might do a fuller post on this when I have finished it, I just wanted to make a few observations thus-far:

  • I am pleased to see him right at the start refusing to succumb to the overtures that we should "fall in line with Gordon Brown to hold back the rise of the Conservatives". I cannot speak for other Lib Dems but if it was up to me I would not prop up any government led by Gordon Brown in a million years.
  • I hoovered up the points near the start about how Labour has allowed their instinct for collective action to move too far in the direction of authoritarianism. I have seen this happen time and again with illiberal measures being proposed and brought in along with a strong feeling that we are seeing "ends justifying the means".
  • There seems to be a fair bit of wishful thinking trying to draw parallels between the position of Labour in the 1920s and the position of the Lib Dems now. I am not yet convinced that we are poised to become the second party as much as I would like to see it happen. Our focus on target seats and the often poor state of the party in seats where there isn't currently a high chance of getting an MP militates strongly against this.
  • I am glad to see the increasingly pluralistic nature of our democracy being highlighted. I blogged about this a couple of months ago using similar figures to those that Nick uses showing that the two main parties have gone within around 50 years from having well over 90% of the vote between them to barely two-thirds in 2005. Yet the electoral system still stitches everything up in favour of the two big boys. We need to keep banging on about this at every opportunity.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of it.


Andy said...

I've only read about a quater of it so far and I agree with much of what you say.

I think that Clegg is drawing parrells with 1920 as a way of creating a narative for the party by re-telling the Liberal anbd Labour parties histories. It maybe a little soon but that it doesn't mean that history may not repeat itself.

My only critcism is it's too rudy long.

I also blushed at the idea of Clegg "tickling liberal erogenous zones"!

Scott said...

It's been clear for some time that Clegg has absolutely no intention of propping up a minority Labour government, and that he is rather closer to the Conservatives than he is the leftish social democracy of Charles Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown

I blogged about it months ago.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, I didn't know about this so will see about getting a copy.

Isn't the only real worry about PR that you could go to the extreme opposite of what we've all been accustomed to i.e. power shifting too easily and government being run inconsistently and at very short bursts due to the fear of the next change/overhaul in power? I ask this after hearing others discuss the pros and cons of PR of FPTP. I don't necessarily have a major problem with the current system but I can see how PR does seem more representative. I'll say this much on the matter, neither is perfect.

Final point - when I read the title of this post, I thought you were going to give us a personal insight as to what made you go LibDem.

I've been following you're blog and I find it quite an interesting read but I feel I ought to declare myself as traditionally thinking along Tory lines and imagine if an election was called tomorrow I'd still be choosing between the Blues and UKIP. …That said, I think your blog has done me a great favour and opened my eyes and ears to what the LibDems are about. I will be giving them a lot more attention thanks to you. Keep up the good work and try and convert me!


Mark Thompson said...

Thanks for your comments Simon - much appreciated and I will keep on trying to convert you to the "good guys"!

Yes, sorry if the title misled you. It's just that lots of other Lib Dem bloggers have already posted about this and I was dragging my feet, hence this is "my" response to "Liberal Moment" (the name of the document).

I understand where you are coming from on electoral systems. There is no perfect system but my view is that Single Transferable Vote with multi-member constituencies is the least worst of all the systems. It is certainly much better than FPTP in my view which only persists because of the vested interests of the two main parties.