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Lib Dems – last chance saloon

By Angela Harbutt
May 20th, 2015 at 7:11 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Liberal Democrats

If Ms Jones vision for the Lib Dems was a bit too fruity for you, then here is an alternative item that may be of interest.

Julian Astle’s piece, which appeared in the Independent last week, is all together less humorous, but he makes some excellent points.

First he neatly encapsulates the entire problem with the disastrous 2015 General Election campaign…

“The proximate cause of the Liberal Democrats’ identity crisis was the decision to fight the election as centrists rather than liberals – a decision that the party leadership knew, deep down, risked leaving them with a functional and lifeless message, devoid of the sense of moral purpose and historic mission that made Clegg’s resignation speech his best of the campaign….

…In so far as this gave the party a reason to exist, it was to moderate the worst excesses of whichever party it might end up working with in government – a dismal offering. Not only did this tell voters nothing about the party’s own vision for the country, it actively undermined its claims to have one. If the Tories want to travel 10 miles to the right, and Labour 10 miles to the left, the logic of the Lib Dem position was that they were prepared to travel in either direction, but only for five miles.”

He also goes on to clinically dissect the reason for this ill-fated strategy

“…the underlying cause – and the one the party leadership candidates will try hard not to discuss in the coming weeks – is the unresolved battle between the party’s Right-leaning economic liberals and the Left-leaning social liberals about the true meaning of liberalism.”

But what of the future? Well, Julian argues that the “anti-austerity Left” has now become “the most crowded part of the political landscape” and, he argues, the Lib Dems have already burned their bridges back to that land…

“A party that has spent five years attacking the deficit with the Conservatives cannot credibly spend the next five denouncing “Tory cuts”.

So where next? It’s so simple. There is a large group of younger voters crying out for a party that represents them…

“rather than identifying either with the Left or the Right as the pre- and post- war generations did, and do, today’s young combine the social liberal views of the Left (secular, internationalist, concerned about the environment, relaxed about lifestyle choices and family structures) and the classical liberal views of the Right (in favour of balanced budgets, low taxation, conditional welfare, personal responsibility, individual choice and entrepreneurship) without seeing any contradiction between the two.

This increasingly educated, empowered, technologically savvy cohort is left cold by the conservatism of the Tory party and the collectivism of the Labour party. They are instinctive liberals. They just need a liberal party to vote for. “

Though I cannot, in any sense of the word be described as a young voter, that is where I am pretty much planted. It is one where many of my friends and occasional drinking-fellows (Lib Dem, UKIP and Conservative voters) to a smaller, or larger extent, are also at – economically free market, socially liberal (whatever that means these days).

Surely this is the best, the only, route for a sane Lib Dem party to take? And if they don’t act soon UKIP, the Conservatives (or some party yet to emerge) will move into this vacuum and the Lib Dems truly will be left defending the rights of the likes of Sebastien, Flounder, Flotsam and Jetsam and co, and little else.

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Virtue Signaling – A Symptom Of A Sick Nation

By Sara Scarlett
May 20th, 2015 at 10:00 am | No Comments | Posted in Twitter

The other day someone on Twitter called my life ‘self-serving’ because I am not ‘left-wing.’ What could this aggressive individual possibly mean? I have spent my entire adult life engaged in some area of activism trying to make the world a better place not just for myself, but for my human beings too. I am a staunch supporter of Global Capitalism – the phenomenon that has pulled more people out of poverty than any other. I also give food to food banks, old clothes to charity shops and I look after my friends and family whilst trying to make ends meet myself. My life was judged by a complete stranger solely on my support for policies that favour businesses and lower taxes. Judging by their behaviour in the wake of the election, ‘the Left’ sincerely believe they have a monopoly on compassion. Whilst I wholly acknowledge that the intentions behind Labour/Green party policies may very well be to help the poor, I will never support them because I don’t think their policies will yield the consequences they, or I, want. Unfortunately, we have become a nation where the intentions behind policy are more important than the consequences of those policies. This is sick.

We don’t have discussions on the quality of policy anymore. We have discussions on the intentions behind policies. It is part of a phenomenon called ‘virtue signaling’ and it is the symptom of a sick, sick nation. It seems to be too hard these days to communicate the analysis of policy. Does this policy do what it is intended to do? Is it cost-effective? Is there a better way of doing this? Maybe this is a symptom of a world which communicates in sound bites and 140 characters but there are people whose job is doing just this very thing. I strongly suspect it is because facing up to the consequences of your actions and unfavourable analyses of policy is a hard thing to do and these so called PR “gurus” are intellectually lazy. Recently almost every conversation on policy I have had with a Leftie looks like this:

Me: What is this policy designed to do?

Leftie: Help the poor.

Me: Is it actually helping the poor?

Leftie: No.

Me: Is it in anyway hindering the poor?

Leftie: I strongly suspect it is.

Me: That’s awful. We should repeal it!

Leftie: How dare you say such a thing!!!

Me: I beg your pardon?

Leftie: Why do you hate the poor?!?!

Being against policy designed to help the poor, sick or old is considered tantamount to being against the poor, sick or old no matter what the quality and consequences of those policies are. This is dangerous, deluded and wicked. To simply stick by policies for decades despite their ineffectiveness because of what they mean rather than their consequences shows profound moral paucity.

Empty words are, more often than not, sad platitudes designed to absolve oneself of guilt from not taking the right action or none at all. Retweeting something from Oxfam or Unicef is not in the same league as actually donating to a food bank. If a guy calls himself a ‘feminist,’ does that pardon him from not treating his girlfriend badly? Most certainly not. Is setting up a direct debit to Help The Aged same as visiting your lonely Grandmother? Not at all. Meaning well is not the same as doing good.

Talk is cheap but in the case of policy, actions equal votes so don’t forget that the consequences of policy are more important than the intentions behind them. Just because a policy was designed to help the poor doesn’t mean it actually does. Get a grip; stop ranting on Facebook and go help people before you type that angry, sanctimonious tweet.

Nick Clegg Was A Bad Leader

By Sara Scarlett
May 20th, 2015 at 5:20 am | 3 Comments | Posted in AV referendum, coalition, Liberal Democrats

I feel that someone should just say it. Despite showing a great deal of dignity in the End, here are my brief impressions of where Clegg went badly, badly wrong:

1. Clegg did not reform the party structure.

The party machine is a useless maze of committees and associations. In order to free himself from this labrinth of dysfunction, Clegg’s office appeared to separate themselves from the main party. This put distance between him and the members and he became more and more out-of-touch. A good leader would have reformed the party structure not treat it as an inconvenience to be managed.

2. Clegg did not get rid of Rennard sooner.

To his credit Rennard is gone. But how much better would it have been had Rennard been gone sooner? Lord Rennard clearly did not have the party’s best intrests at heart and any meaningful reform was impossible whilst Rennard was still sat upon his throne. Nick Clegg only got rid of Rennard when he had to. The damage was already done.

3. Clegg surrounded himself with amateurs.

Angela has already comprehensively addressed this one.

4. Clegg sold the LibDems too cheaply.

The price for the LibDems going into Coalition should have been PR by STV. Not a referendum, but a constitutional agreement that all future elections were to be contested this way. Without this Clegg wrote the LibDems suicide note. Pehaps the lure of power was too tempting. That should have been the ultimate LibDem red line.

It’s official. Lib Dems are batsh*t crazy

By Editor
May 19th, 2015 at 1:31 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Just plain funny

There has been much discussion in the press and elsewhere in recent days about what on earth the Lib Dems will do to regain lost ground? With compassionate Tories and economically sound Labour on the rise, with EU loving Nationalist SNP and flag-waving Kippers where oh where will the Lib Dems fit in this new world order.

jelly fish

(No jellyfish were harmed in the making of this picture) ClipArts

Well have no fear – the answer appears to be plain. They plan to return to the good old days ; populating their seaside retreats with sandal-wearing beardies, and adopting policies on”humane” regulations for crabs and lobsters; the inalienable rights of goldfish, and the rights of teenagers to watch (and probably star in) porn movies.  Hacks up and down the land can at last look forward to their Lib Dem conference assignment come September and political cartoonists brush off their pens with renewed enthusiasm.

Don’t believe us? Then read this wonderful submission gracing the pages of Lib Dem Voice (in italics). We’ve added our own thoughts [in red], but do feel free to add your own.

 

“Ok, So I have heard many people asking what do the liberal democrats believe? What is Liberalism? and where do I fit into this? Well, I am going to attempt to answer these questions the best I can without boring you all to sleep”.

[GOOD LUCK WITH THAT – I MIGHT STAY AWAKE IF YOU START SAYING SOME REALLY MAD STUFF!]

“From the Preamble to the Constitution:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services.

So that’s the basic stance on the party’s views and where the Liberal Democrats are different to other parties.”

[YEAH. YOU’RE BANG ON RIGHT THERE. MOST OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES MAKE A POINT OF BEING STRONGLY IN FAVOUR OF HUNGER, IGNORANCE AND DISEASE IN THEIR FOUNDING CHARTER. THANK GOD THERE IS ONE PARTY WHICH ISN’T EXPLICITLY IN FAVOUR OF AGGRESSION AND IGNORANCE. WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT YOU?]

“They believe that everyone has the right to live a good life, and where everyone has the opportunities to be the best they can be, regardless of age, colour, gender, religion, location or how wealthy you are, and we all know that currently and previously, these things do alter our paths and rights to achieve in life.”

[WEALTHY PEOPLE CAN BUY MORE THINGS. WE ASSUME YOU WISH TO BRING AN END TO THIS SITUATION. NO WEALTHY PERSON SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO USE THEIR WEALTH TO IMPROVE THEIR OPPORTUNITIES OR THEIR CHANCES OF LIVING A GOOD LIFE. THIS IS A RECOGNISED POINT OF VIEW – IT IS CALLED COMMUNISM, NOT LIBERALISM.]

“I personally know how this feels as I’m sure many of you do too. If you are not lucky enough to be able to afford to go to a good school your opportunities are lowered, or if you are from say rural areas then your opportunities are greatly different compared to those living in city centres.”

[BAN ALL PRIVATE EDUCATION AND MAKE PRIVATE TUITION ILLEGAL. WE ALSO NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERY HOUSEHOLD HAS EXACTLY THE SAME BOOKS IN IT. OTHERWISE RICHER HOUSEHOLDS WILL HAVE CHILDREN ACCESSING MORE AND BETTER BOOKS. THIS IS UNFAIR AND NEEDS TO BE BANNED. PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE TO LIVE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO TRAVEL TO TRAFALGAR SQUARE AS QUICKLY AND CHEAPLY AS LONDONERS. THE CURRENT SYSTEM OF BREAKING UP THE LONDON TRANSPORT NETWORK INTO SIX ZONES WILL BE PROHIBITED. WE MUST ENSURE ALL OF THE HUMAN RACE LIVE IN THE UNIFIED “EQUALITY ZONE”.]

“I believe the same opportunities should be available to all people in all areas of the country (even the world). But, we can not achieve this level of equality if those in charge are not in favour of equality”

[NO ONE SANE IS IN FAVOUR OF TOTAL EQUALITY. THE OPPORTUNITY TO DRINK EXPENSIVE CHAMPAGNE CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT BE EQUALLY AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE IN THE WORLD.]

“Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on these ideas of equality and liberty. Liberty is freedom… the word liberal comes from the latin word liber which means ‘free’ man.  Liberals generally support ideas and programs such as freedom of speech,  freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, and international cooperation.”

 

[MAKE YOUR MIND UP. DO YOU WANT FREE MARKETS OR EVERYONE HAVING EXACTLY THE SAME STUFF? THEY ARE PRETTY GOOD AT THE LATTER IN NORTH KOREA. IT’S PRETTY EQUAL IN THAT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME TERRIBLE LEVEL OF MISERY.]

“Liberalism first became a distinct political movement during the age of enlightenment.. where it became popular among philosophers and economists in the western world. Isolated strands of liberal thought that had existed in Western philosophy since the Ancient Greeks, began to combine at the time of the English Civil War.

So, you know now about the basic core beginnings of liberalism and you know about the views of the Liberal Democrats… so where do i fit into this? and more importantly, what about you?”

[TELL US. TELL US. WE CAN’T WAIT.]

“I have always had a strong view that every human and animal deserve the equal right to live a free and healthy life. After all, we  share this planet  and no species is more important than the other. We each have a purpose and in turn each deserve the right to a good life.”

[OK, YOU ARE OFFICIALLY A NUTTER. YOU ACTUALLY THINK A MOSQUITO IS NO MORE OR LESS IMPORTANT THAN A HUMAN BEING. WE SHOULD ALSO STOP HEDGEHOGS FROM SMOKING CIGARETTES IN CASE THIS STOPS THEM LIVING A HEALTHY LIFE.]

“Now, I have always been interested in politics but it wasn’t until I learned about the Liberal Democrats that I realised the views and ideas behind this party are very much the views and ideas I have always tried to live by. Liberal Democrats are not here to work for the elite, they were never designed around the rich and powerful. The party  strives to achieve fairness and equality for all.”

[ESPECIALLY FOR INSECTS AND INVERTEBRATES, WHO ARE NOT CURRENTLY ENTITLED TO VOTE AND DESERVE THE SAME EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AS HUMAN BEINGS.]

“Yes ok, they have made a few mistakes over the years, but they are just human.. like you and me.”

[PERHAPS WE NEED MORE REPRESENTATION – OR EVEN QUOTAS – FOR THE WIDER ANIMAL KINGDOM ON THE FEDERAL POLICY COMMITTEE. THOSE PESKY HUMAN BEINGS RUNNING THE LIBDEMS HAVE SURE MADE A TON OF MISTAKES. IT’S TIME TO LISTEN TO THE PANDAS AND THE GIRAFFES.]

“Sometimes people can do wrong even though they have the best intentions. The main thing to remember is this. If you learn from your mistakes  grow and develop into better things, then the mistakes you made will be more of a learning curve.  You have to try and think about all the positive outcomes from it and with regards to the Liberal Democrats,  they have done good things over the 5 years even though they were small party.”

[PERHAPS PEOPLE WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE SYMPATHETIC TO HOW SMALL THE PARTY WAS IF THE LEADER AND SHADOW CABINET HAD ALL BEEN GNATS, FROGS OR LICE? HUMAN BEINGS ARE UNFAIRLY AND UNREPRESENTATIVELY TALL AND LARGE COMPARED TO OTHER ANIMALS.]

“Now we have a Tory majority govt I fear that these next few years are going to be crucial.”

[DAMN IT.WE WERE EXPECTING THE NEXT FEW YEARS TO BE IRRELEVANT AND UNIMPORTANT. THANKS FOR POINTING OUT THAT THEY ARE GOING TO BE CRUCIAL. WE ARE NOW ALL EARS. WELL, NOT ALL EARS. WE ARE HUMAN. ELEPHANTS HAVE BIGGER EARS, I SUPPOSE. AND IT’S INEQUALITIES LIKE THESE – A MERE ACCIDENT OF BIRTH – THAT WE WANT THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS TO ADDRESS.]

“We have all seen what David Cameron is intending to do: bring back fox hunting,”

 

[IF YOU CAN HUNT FOXES, YOU SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO HUNT HUMANS.]

“take away the Human Rights Act and replace it with something else”

[A TREATY TO RESPECT THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF GOLDFISH?]

“£12 billion in welfare cuts (even though there is a planned 10% pay rise for MPs).”

[YEP. IF WE PAID OUR MPs A BIT LESS, WE COULD CONTINUE TO AFFORD TO SPEND £10,000 PER HOUSEHOLD PER YEAR ON THE WELFARE STATE AND STILL WHINGE ABOUT HOW WE COULDN’T END POVERTY IN ONE OF THE RICHEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD AT THE RICHEST TIME IN HUMAN EXISTENCE. WE’RE SO GLAD WE TEACH SUBJECTIVE MATHEMATICS TO OUR YOUNG PEOPLE. EVERYONE (AND EVERY ANIMAL) SHOULD HAVE THE SAME BASIC RIGHT TO MAKE UP THEIR OWN NUMBERS AND DEFY THE OPPRESSIVE ARROGANT INSISTENCE THAT THINGS NEED TO “ADD UP”]

“They might be  more trustworthy with the economy than Labour but doing it off the backs of the normal average people  like me and you is not fair.”

[WTF? JUST WHAT THE ABSOLUTE F*CK? TO WRITE ALL OF THE STUFF YOU HAVE JUST WRITTEN AND CLAIM TO BE “NORMAL” IS CERTAINLY AUDACIOUS. WE SHOULDN’T BE TRUSTWORTHY OFF THE BACKS OF ANY SPECIES. THIS IS PARTICULARLY DISCRIMINATORY AGAINST JELLYFISH. THEY DON’T HAVE BACKS.]

“So how can we achieve fairness and equality in this country? I truly believe the only party who will always strive for this is the Liberal Democrats and that’s why i am proud to say I am a Liberal Democrat.”

[IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS, THE PARTY SUCCESSFULLY LOST TWO THIRDS OF ITS VOTERS. WE SHOULD STICK WITH THE PLAN AND TRY AND LOSE A FURTHER TWO THIRDS OF THE DWINDLING BAND OF SUPPORTERS IN THIS PARLIAMENT. YOUR PROPOSALS ARE A BRILLIANT FIRST STEP TO TRYING TO ACHIEVE THIS. BUT IT WILL BE A LONG AND HARD SLOG TO BUILD ON THIS FIRST ENCOURAGING STEP.]

” * Leanne Jones is a full time mummy, natural born liberal and feminist who loves music, art, science & is obsessed with politics'”

[IT IS OUTRAGEOUS AND UNFAIR THAT YOU ARE A “NATURAL BORN” LIBERAL. PEOPLE DON’T HAVE A RIGHT TO BE NATURALLY BORN INTO ANYTHING. GIVE ME SOME OF YOUR MONEY. NOW. TO COMPENSATE ME AND MY PET GERBIL FOR NOT BEING BORN WITH SUCH AN ADVANTAGE.]

Happy days are here again.

 

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Lynton Crosby call for banning election polls is wrong

By Editor
May 17th, 2015 at 10:10 am | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Interviews from Lynton Crosby (the true election professional) are all too rare. But he has stepped forward over the weekend to provide some fascinating analysis of the latest UK General Election.

Much we agree with. But where we disagree with the “Wizard of Oz”, is his call for “…public polls to be banned for the “two or three weeks” before a general election because of their potential impact on the result…”

First and foremost “bannning” something should never be the first instinct of any lover of free markets. Banning stuff has unintended consequences.

In this instance the unintended consequence of banning the publishing of opinion polls for the last couple of weeks of any election, would be to create a two tier system. Those that have information, and those that don’t.

The ban on published polls would not stop opinion polls being commissioned (by banks, political parties, the media and other privileged groups). It would simply deprive us, the average voter, from knowing what those polls said. An “information rich elite” vs “voting public ignorance”.

We would be subjected to an endless chorus of pundits, commentators and journalists alluding to information they “had seen” but “could not report” that pointed in one direction or another. That would not enhance transparency and debate, it would mean the political classes claiming they “knew” stuff that we did not. That does not assist democracy, it merely deepens the gulf between “us” and “them”.

In all likelihood, Mr Crosby probably has the best polling methodology in the UK. So it makes sense for him to use this opportunity to call for such a ban. And he is sufficiently canny to know that planting the suggestion of a ban now may take root – and to his advantage in years to come. We are sure he would much prefer to be able to selectively leak, come May 2020 that “Conservatives insiders believe it is a close race” or “Senior figures inside Conservative HQ believe they are well ahead” – according to his preferred strategy. Fair enough Mr Crosby, but don’t expect us, your average voter, to agree.

What we want it is better polling. It seems to us that the problem with the polls at this election was not necessarily “shy Tories” (wic may explain 1% of the error), so much as the cartel of opinion poll companies tweaking their methodology constantly to keep in step with the pack. For example, polling company Survation has already admitted that it suppressed a poll conducted late in the General Election because the results seemed so “out of line” with previous research they had conducted and the results being reported by their peers that they decided not to publish. Lessons learned we hope.

So we say we would rather that bans, let ’em try again next time, We’d much rather that, than exist in a 2 week vacuum with the political elite spoon-feeding us with whatever spin they wish to serve up.

Polling aside Mr Crosby has many excellent points to make and makes for an excellent read. You read the full interview with him here.

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