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A vision for the Liberal Democrats

By Alex Chatham
June 16th, 2017 at 1:28 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Civil Liberties, EU, EU Politics, Free trade, freedom, Labour, Tim Farron

The Liberal Democrats are looking for a new leader. Tim Farron has stood down after leading the party through a General Election campaign and increasing the amount of MPs the party had in parliament. The party’s pitch during the campaign was to offer voters an alternative to Brexit. The party’s heart isn’t in leaving the European Union but instead of promising to reverse the process, they suggested a second referendum with an option to remain.

The voters took no notice.

This has led commentators and politicians to claim that two-party politics are back and third parties have had it. Perhaps. But we have heard this sort of thing before. We have also read about the death of the Labour party and demise of the Conservative party. Support for parties ebb and flow. The Lib Dems could yet again capture the popular imagination or at least influence debate and public policy.

To do that, the party needs a vision. There are many ways to go but it will come as no surprise that a post from this site suggests embracing free markets and free trade. That means a change of direction on Brexit.

The Labour party’s position on Brexit appears to be ‘we will do it, reluctantly’. The Conservatives are still arguing among themselves with a few voices offering a clear path to the exit doors. Could the Lib Dems pivot away from a slavish love of the EU and truly embrace internationalism?

Free trade creates prosperity. That is real free trade not  regulated trade or negotiated trade. With Britain out of the EU, its government can opt for trade deals with other countries which impose regulations or tarrifs or it could go for real free trade. No tarrifs, just let companies trade with each other. What a difference that would make to the economies of Africa. Right now, those African countries are penalised by the EU because EU countries protect their farmers. Ironic isn’t it that for all the criticism of Trump and his ‘America First’ mantra, the EU has been putting EU countries first for a long time. The Lib Dems could set out a vision for a free trading nation, managing migration to allow people with the talent and skills from all over the world to come and work in Britain, not just the EU, reform of its own markets to stop ‘crony capitalism’ which ensured open, free markets. Coupled with the party’s commitment to civil liberties and personal freedom, this new addition would make a distinctive offering to voters.


Corbyn’s Conversations Are Not Statecraft

By Guest
November 23rd, 2015 at 11:24 am | 2 Comments | Posted in Labour

Judging from the social media and blog feeds over the weekend. There is a Momentum campaign in operation to try and paint attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s unconvincing posturing as a vast media conspiracy. Even the BBC is being roped into the usual anti-Daily Mail and Murdoch rants as ‘wilfully not seeing, as the public does, the deep integrity and morality behind his position’.

The problem for this analysis, is that the public largely does see Corbyn for what it is, and they don’t much care for it. While many people have deep and sincere concerns about military ventures in far-off lands. And deep suspicions about the need for action, particularly as articulated by Government. They can also see Islamic State for what it is, and accept ‘no action’ in Syria has not been a wild success for peace and security, either here or in the region. People are dying either way, and the long and bloody Syrian civil war shows no sign of concluding soon.

They expect their wannabe Leaders to have a clear position on such things, backed up by a credible plan. Not beard-stroking incoherence, or a sense that whatever the Government does, he is against it, while having no Plan B.

Corbyn is not a liberal pacifist. Largely he’s an observer and oppositionalist on matters of state. He correctly sees the resolution of most conflicts as being based on dialogue not bombs. But incorrectly presumes that dialogue is always an option. Or an option right now. It should be self-evident but apparently isn’t to him that a death cult, with a moral vision based on bringing about a final conflict between civilisations is not a prime candidate for having a chat. If there is any prospect of that whatsoever it will require a radical change of vision, leadership and personnel in IS. This in turn will largely require beating them militarily. Some people do just want to kill you. And will if you let them.

However the even less attractive aspect of Corbyn’s statecraft is the manner he which does engage in dialogue when he can. His relationship with the IRA at the height of the Troubles was not admirable. Rather than coming across as the work of a sincere peacemaker, ahead of his time, he seemed to be wallowing in the association with those who would slaughter his political opponents at home. Feeding on grievances, not resolving them.

With Hamas, there is a line between a sincere desire to defend the rights of Palestinians – by questioning the decisions of the Israeli state. And apologism for acts of murderous aggression against Israeli citizens – by ignoring or excusing them. It is hard to see how the thinly veiled anti-Semitism of his fellow-travellers on the hard Left – or their aggressive relativism against Israel, is the former, not the latter. Hatred and wilful ignorance of one side’s concerns is a poor catalyst for facilitating peace.

And so it goes on. Corbyn’s preference is to be the man sitting on the sidelines preaching about how everyone else made mistakes, and how much better life would be if only some utopian peace plan had been allowed to succeed. That and pretending to be neutral while actually being ruthlessly partisan. That preference is not compatible with a job application to run the affairs of a member of the UN Security Council.

British Prime Ministers have to take tough decisions, often without any path being clear or right, and live with the consequences. They cannot just hope for a better conversation. The public can see that. Many Labour MPs can see that. The question is how long it will take Labour’s new intake to reach the same conclusion.

When It Comes To Political Style, “Authentic” Is A Bad Idea

By Sara Scarlett
September 22nd, 2015 at 6:45 am | Comments Off on When It Comes To Political Style, “Authentic” Is A Bad Idea | Posted in Labour

So what if he’s a Trot who supports the IRA and cosies up to Hamas?

Jeremy Corbyn is AUTHENTIC!!

Has everyone forgotten that you can be authentic and stylish, well-groomed, and well-tailored?

My Grandfather was as working class as they come and voted Labour all his life. He was born in a council flat, went to work in overalls but his Sunday suit was always clean and smart, his shirt was always ironed, and he was always clean-shaven.

The only reason Jeremy Corbyn can be described as “authentic” is because in this context “authentic” is just hipster speak for something that’s shabby and pseudo-vintage.

In my book being authentically sh*t is definitely worse than trying to not to be sh*t but ending up looking unauthentic.


Things That Are Not Going To Happen (SDP Edition)

By Sara Scarlett
September 19th, 2015 at 11:39 am | Comments Off on Things That Are Not Going To Happen (SDP Edition) | Posted in Labour, Liberal Philosophy

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1. Labour MPs are not going to defect enmasse to the LibDems.

  • One does not leave Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party because he’s unelectable and improve ones electability by joining the Liberal Democrats.

2. The Labour Party is not going to split.

  • And even if it did, so what? It did before and that didn’t hinder the Labour party in any way nor did it thrust the SDP into power…

3. The LibDems are not going to rebrand or restructure.

  • After the 55th committee meeting on a night when the moon is full, Sal Brinton will decide that she does not have the authority to do anything because nobody in the LibDems takes responsibility for anything, ever. The LibDems will continue to be woeful guardians of both Social Liberalism and Classical Liberalism alike.

The Illiberal Left

By Sara Scarlett
September 18th, 2015 at 7:30 am | Comments Off on The Illiberal Left | Posted in Labour, Liberal Democrats, Libertarians

The election of Jeremy Corbyn has obviously increased the chatter about the positioning of parties on the left/right spectrum. Tim Farron has flaunted the somewhat incredulous claim that Labour MPs will defect to the LibDems…


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I am amused by the suggestion that the Blairites would find a happy home in the LibDems. It would probably be like being a Libertarian in the Tories… Tony Blair’s New Labour was not liberal in any sense of the word. Nanny statist, warmongering and prone to top-down diktats; civil libertarians despaired.

The zeitgeist has changed and a too many political activists and commentators, overwhelmingly on the Left, have not caught on. In the 1980s the dichotomy was clear. Thatcher represented the authoritarian right and all who opposed her amounted to a broad and diverse liberal left.

The authoritarian right versus the libertarian left set play no longer applies. Blair’s administration turned the left into authoritarians, different from the right-wing authoritarians, but authoritarians nonetheless. This new left felt/feels justified in increasing the erosions of our civil liberties and deeper policing of thought, speach and lifetstyle. This is not only enforced by little Hitlers in town councils but in offices, schools and more private places (like cars and homes) not to mention on social media!

In the 80s the Right’s authoritarianism was anti-gay and racist but now if you are perceived to be anti-gay and/or racist, the full wrath of the authoritarian left will chew you up and spit you out.

This is most noticeably seen on issues such as smoking tobacco versus smoking cannabis. Almost every LibDem I’ve met, with a few exceptions, would legalise smoking cannabis tomorrow. Almost every LibDem I’ve met, with a few exceptions, would ban cigarettes off the face of the earth today. I struggle to understand this fundamentally contradictory set of beliefs despite the fact that they are held simultaneously by so many.

The only way I can assume that this is justified in their minds is because cigarettes are manufactured by companies and cannabis is not. (Surely they must realise that once cannabis is legalised, ‘Big Cannabis’ would become a thing instantly?) The anti-capitalism/evil tobacco companies rhetoric comes before the small matter of personal liberty/lifestyle choices. The left-wingness comes before the liberalism.

I believe this is why Jeremy Corbyn et al. are comfortable talking talking to the undesireables he talks to. The capitalist ‘West’ is the big bad guy and anyone who opposes them are underdogs. I believe in the back of Corbyn’s mind he knows that those folks throw homosexuals off buildings and beat their wives but I strongly suspect that it just matters to Corbyn so much less than the anti-Western capitalist imperialist thing.

This is one of the reasons I’ve never been a fan of the ‘enemy of your enemy is your friend’ schtick.

Liberals are scattered and disjointed and remain dhimmis in all parties despite attempts to define left-wing populism as ‘Liberalism.‘ Attemts to portray Cameron as an arch-Thatcherite also make little sense as he is a moderate above all else. Cameron has been made more authoritarian by power but that’s typical. He’s not a liberal but he’s never called himself one either. It’s not just the gone-to-seed activists that populate the increasingly tragic comment threads on LDV who are willfully unaware of this; activists my age define themselves by a dominant school of thought that hasn’t been true in Britain since the 80s.

The left simply don’t realise that they are not the liberals anymore. Or, worse, they don’t care.