Thursday, January 10, 2008

Liberal Democrats v Conservatives: the battle in the blogosphere

It is probably fair to say that the advent of Nick Clegg, the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, has not been greeted with unalloyed joy by our Conservative opponents. Indeed, it would hardly be wrong to say that the past few weeks has seen some "pretty robust" debate between Conservative and Liberal Democrat bloggers. Even the Queen Mum of blogging, the generally genial Iain Dale seems to have been featuring as many stories as he can to try to show Liberal Democrats in as poor a light as possible.

Neither, to be fair, has the traffic been all one way: I have "fisked' Mr. Cameron's rather half-baked proposals on health, and attacked several of the Conservative positions that have emerged from the fog of their policy making process. Most Liberal Democrats have attacked the Conservatives probably with more vigour even than the distrusted, discredited Labour government.

So what lies behind this sharper debate, this emerging war in the blogosphere?

Partly- in my view- it reflects a fundamental similarity between the tactical position of the two parties. Both are opposition parties, combating an intensely cynical and centralising labour government. In that sense the two parties face a tactical overlap. Partly, also, the Liberal Democrat and Conservative bloggers are more oppositional and a whole lot more lively that the generally rather dull -even complacent- Labour blogging world.

However, it also reflects a fundamental disconnect between the two parties. Ever since Cameron became leader of the Conservatives he has tried to put his tanks on the Liberal Democrats' lawn, by trying to claim "liberal" positions for his party. However, the way he has set out liberal aspirations is seen by most Liberal Democrats as fundamentally dishonest.

The major example- though not the only one- is that he has shifted the Conservative ground to oppose the illiberal idea of ID cards. Liberal Democrats have always opposed ID cards- on principle- but initially Michael Howard, the then Conservative leader, supported them. The shift by Mr. Cameron, is portrayed as being of the same root as the consistent opposition by the Lib Dems. Yet in fact the Conservatives have in fact been inconsistent, and this has excited deep suspicions that the whole of Mr. Cameron's "Liberal-Conservative" strategy is not about principle, but simply to drown out the Liberal Democrats. Were that to happen, then the Conservatives electoral advantage, once gained, would not be used for liberal policies, but rather variations of the same old Conservative centralism and authoritarianism.

Liberal Democrats would argue that the only proof of Mr. Cameron's sincerity would be a commitment to change the electoral system.

Rather than Mr. Cameron's newly minted "liberalism" being seen as a necessary change of view from a party which has had to leave behind much of its previous policy baggage, it is seen as a direct challenge not just to the Liberal Democrats but also to Liberalism by a Conservative party that has not in fact changed very much, but which instead intends to do lasting damage to Liberalism.

I have always opposed Socialism, in all its forms. I believe in the transformational power of individual freedom. However my ideology, informed by JS Mill and John Locke is not the same as the Conservative ideology informed by Burke. I resent the constant implication from Conservatives that the ideology which they partially claim for themselves- Liberalism- is irrelevant in the hands of the party which claims all of the mantle of liberalism: the Liberal Democrats.

Despite being often patronised and sneered at, I am still happy to go head to head with the Conservatives, and in many ways that is a more productive and rewarding debate than one with the ideologically bankrupt managerialism of the Labour party. So in the sharp debate that is emerging between our two parties, I would say "Vive La Differance".

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like to think I am a Tory who deeply respects liberal values but will remain a Conservative because weakened traditional institutions, in my opinion, are more supportive of popular liberty than innovative and emergent authority, especially that which seeks to 'modernise'. Was not the original Cicero a defender of the age-old Republic, rather than, ultimately, a supporter of Octavian?

In thise sense Conservatives who have liberal views are not necessarily merely 'tactical'. It may not be coherently defined but there is a body of opinion which is loosely speaking 'Libertarian Monarchist' - very much at home in a village pub.

John M Ward said...

Although I am a Conservative, and personally had hoped for Huhne, I have no problems with Clegg and thought his first bash at PMQs went well, despite his "unusual" positioning down the front bench a little way.

I look forward to seeing how he comes along.

Of course, if he messes up somewhere down the road, I might then be tempted post something about that myself...

Giovanni said...

Isn't it rather disingenious to say that the only way someone can be a Liberal is by agreeing to change the elecotral system? Especially when all the proposals for electoral reform coming from the Lib-Dems is for systems that would render coalitions inevitable thus making the Lib-Dems kingmakers?
Liberalism has always put the individual at the centre of society and any electoral system that renders deal-making and lowest-common-denominator coalitions necessary, thus removing the power of choice from the voters quite frankly has very little Liberal merit to it.

Conservative economic policies have been far more liberal then a lot of what has come out of the Lib-Dem party. INevitable perhaps following the fusion with the Social Democrats and infusion of all those statists and command-economy enthusiasts into the ranks.

But I happily admit the Orange Book had a lot of good ideas and was genuinely liberal. Pity most Lib-Dem party activists run away from it.

AnyoneButBrown said...

Cicero I'm puzzled, what do you mean by the coded statement "the only proof of Mr. Cameron's sincerity would be a commitment to change the electoral system.".
Can I assume you mean that the test of Mr. Camerons liberal values is his adoption of Proportional Representation as a policy for the Conservative party?
I am a Conservative and as with most conservatives fundamentally reject PR as it will change the "tyranny of the majority" all too evident under NuLabour to the "tyranny of the minority"...constant coalition government and the granting of wholly disproportionate power to the third, smaller party the LibDems, the holders of the balance of power. A power wholly disproportionate to their relatively small (and growing smaller) democratic mandate. In what way would PR prove Mr. Camerons Liberal values? Adopting it would merely prove his idiocy

Newmania said...

I wish you would tell me what it was that Liberals were saying exactly. Conservatives have always opposed ID cards but the best argument for their introduction is the arrogant disregard for the integrity of our borders shown by BROWN.
In that I can discern any consistent thinking from the beards at all , they are even more enthusiastic about the dismantling of national cohesion , cheap immigrant Labour and multi culturalist toleration of intolerance. Liberal strongholds are usually far from the consequences of such problems of course , in terms of geography and class.
The other strain of thinking I notice from Clog that marks him as different to Conservatives is his slavish adoration of the EU about as illiberal an attitude as I can imagine attacking ,as it does ,democracy accountability and being the epitome of managerialism (soi disant....as a private sector worker that is not what i would call it !)
From the leadership election with its socialist support for Huhne , if you are against state incursions we can see you are in the wrong Party which , in practice is always the case .No Party opposes social developments like women’s rights , and toleration of difference although to what extent you should impose such values is a legitimate debate .Other aspects of the broad Liberal coalition , like ill conceived educational attitudes and ignorance of crime in urban areas have been rightly jettisoned. Here you are playing catch up and doing it with an ill grace Freedom from the state is the Conservative argument not high tax Liberal territory, and say what you like , you know that they would increase taxes in their imaginary administration. You take comfort form Nick Cleggs belated conversion to some aspects of Thatcherism and then accuse David Cameron of parking on your lawn. Au Contraire . You may know but it is a mystery to everyone else
As to the cynical support for PR this is a disgraceful exercise in would be gerrymandering all too typical of the way Liberals behave in practice and both Parties would agree they are locally less honest and more viciously partisan than the others . This is because winning local battles is more central to the Party but what ever the reason it is an unlovely spectacle.
I have recently done a long piece about fair votes and the Conservative Party have infinitely more to complain about than the Liberal party whose only real problem is that they are not a larger Party. Then they would favour FPTP as you well know.

I have heard some interesting ideas on crime and housing form the Liberal Party and there is an ability to think creatively that I would like to see more of from Conservatives ,( on education for example ), but these ideas have a home in the Conservative Party within a coherent manifesto , not as bubbles floating from what strikes me as a Franchise , for disparate protests and hardly a Party at all

Or am I wrong ?Bbelive it or not this is genuinely the way the matter appears to me and I am not anti Liberal on the contrary I would be happy with a Liberal Conservative administration and I am very happy with Mr. Cameron for that reason

Cicero said...

Liberal values? Setting limits to state control constitutionally, legally and financially.

PR is part of that since 1) it allows the result of elections to reflect more accurately how people vote, increasing the power of the individual 2) It does not permit a party that gains a minority to have 100% of the power. While some systems might give disproportionate power to small parties, STV tends not to. Most other democracies, except the USA, have some form of PR, so I do not see what is so dangerous about it. First past the post leaves the majority without an MP that they voted for- and millions of wasted votes undermine our democracy.

Liberal Democrats already believe that the state share in the economy is high enough. We do not propose any increase. We do propose a substantial cut in income tax in order to shift to taxes on behaviour, to foster green objectives- but the overall tax burden should not rise. As far as service provision is concerned, we are pragmatic, not automatically believing that the private sector is a better provider, although it generally is, but looking for the most efficient and cost effective provision.

Concerning Europe: we are very critical of the way that European instituions work, and advocate substantial reform. However, despite the problems, we argue that some form of EU is a net plus and we are optimistic about the scope for change. Thus we beleive that British interests are best served inside the EU.

The Liberal Democrats are now increasingly ideological about Liberalism- and the Orange Book galvanised a debate about finding policies based upon first principles: JS Mill was named the greaatest Liberal at the Brigton conference, and his quote: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." is aalmost always used several times at conference.

Newmania said...

Liberal values? Setting limits to state control constitutionally, legally and financially....

Those are the values of Gladstone long since ditched by the “Liberal Democrat Party “ a coalition of historical loyalties and socialists. Those are the values of Thatcher.
You are far more impressed with voting systems than you should be there are perfectly good systems in Kenya . Democracy is more a cultural interaction and the complex way in which we inter-act with our old and much admired democracy is something I would be loathe to change for the sake of a small Party’s temporary advantage . The argument that they do things differently in other countries is always weak. They drive on the right hand side of the road , perhaps we should introduce a bit of that ?
Other systems have different dynamics ands you cannot pull out rabbits on a just so basis and expect to be taken seriously .

PR breaks the MP community link and hands power to an elitist coterie in the centre and brokers between fragmented groups .It infantilises Politics by allowing people to avoid the balancing process in their own minds and vote in single issues , not coherent manifestos ( a process a minority , Liberal already avoid ). This paradoxically, further empowers the political class and therefore benefit’s the’ Liberal’ elite across both Parties .
Cross Party communitarian issues like capital punishment , the EU and immigration will slide further down the agenda while indistinguishable progressive groupings throw hankeys at each other. As if it was not bad enough already !

You see power as expressed uniquely by Parties (is that Liberal?) but people have conflicting attitudes many or which are not . Any PR system would de –represent the overwhelming small c socially conservative majority already partially disenfranchised.

The “Millions of wasted votes , is a frankly silly remark. In any system where a majority have power all those votes aside for those at the margins are , in a sense wasted . Not in any useful sense though..



Liberal Democrats already believe that the state share in the economy is high enough.

That is a lie/ or to be kinder “This week “ You can only repeat this because no-one will ever know . It would be impossible for any conceivable Liberal administration to stick to it and when they do have power locally ,they are more profligate than the Conservatives as you would expect. Promises to do this and that with the overvall size of the state are entirely worthless. Thatcher signed up to Callaghan’s spending , as she wrote , it was a nuisance but there are numerous ways to use changing circumstances to avoid that. The scale of Labour disingenuousness I need hardly repeat . No tax increases!!!! Ha ha (bitter) ha .
You seem to have a better grasp of the Liberal tax proposals than they do , I have seen numerous Liberals claiming the the plans for local income tax will more than offset the national level but ,as I say , it is the political outlook counts for more than the fig leaf and the you own words give you away
“As far as service provision is concerned, we are pragmatic, not automatically believing that the private sector is a better provider, although it generally is”

Plenty of wiggle room there I’d say for expansion and in truth the Party showed its colours voting for Huhne when even far left Beveridge group members like Norman Baker were going Cleggy with an eye to their seats.

Two party majoritarian voting is more democratic in other ways . Voting provides a protection against “first cheat “ syndrome for the middling .. The bottom fifth say will vote for other peoples money , whatever they think of the process. A middling group will differ for combinations of ideological and self interested motives . A Higher group seek cultural and political power may seek to exploit the compulsory paid for vote to predate on the middling especially those at the margins.Its buying power with other people’s money . You might say majoritarianism provides some balance to the natural imbalance caused by non-contributors having an equal vote in a mixed democracy.. When allied to the “political class “ bias mentioned above , it is an authoritarian system to be loathed and feared.

Finally think about what an administration is . When we decide what to do some prefer one plan some another. Both would prefer a plan top a mish mash of cobbled bargains . A PR vote on PR would have a huge majority against. According to PR we should therefore have a tiny bit of it. OK some limited reform of the House of Lords . That would roughly be the wishes of the people which you do not , apparently , care about .,depste the faux principles hastily flung up.
.


”we are very critical of the way that European instituions work, and advocate substantial reform.”

Rubbish you are proponents of the project and have aided in its misrepresentation cynically believing that most of the electorate are too stupid to know what is good for them. The EU will never reform unless we are prepared to leave and you are not . Words are useless and self serving . Your 'criticism' has helped give away most of our democratic rights and it is fairly insufferable you should pretend otherwise .
Have look at the sort of thing s Clegg says !! I have to admit that local Liberals I know are often embarrassed by this hypocrisy as I am sometimes by the actions of the Conservative Party . Liberal it aint , honest it aint , local it aint.

JS Mill.... hmmmmmm


You might be interested in this aspect of this thinking on social coherence as a prerequisite for a civilised society:
Mill claimed that Coleridge ( yes the poet) had rightly identified three such conditions.
The first of the three conditions was the presence of ‘a system of education… of which ... one main and incessant ingredient was restraining discipline’. Mill claimed that Coleridge had rightly seen the need for the early inculcation and maintenance of such a habit of restraint in society’s members to prevent any lapse into the natural state of anarchical disorder that he thought would otherwise be bound to occur when the habit was widely relaxed. The second condition was ‘the existence ... of the feeling of allegiance, or loyalty’. Mill observed that ‘this feeling may vary in its objects’, but he adds that: ‘Its essence is always the same: viz that there be in the constitution of the State something which is settled, something permanent, and not to be called into question, something which, by general agreement, has a right to be where it is, and to be secure against disturbance, whatever else may change.’ The third condition for social stability, of which Mill claimed that Coleridge rightly saw the need, is that of ‘a strong and active principle of cohesion among the members of the
‘We mean a principle of sympathy [among societal members], not of hostility; of union, not of separation. We mean a feeling of common interests among those who live under the same government, and are contained within the same … boundaries. We mean, that one part of the community do not consider themselves as foreigners with regard to another part; that they set a value on their connexion; feel that they are one people, that their lot is cast together, that any evil to any of their fellow-countrymen is evil to themselves….’


This principle has been treated with contempt by the Liberal party and form my greatest overarching objection. Nick Clegg recently said “ We can`t play catch up on immigration....but we have to understand concerns “

If you understood those concerns you would value the country which by and large you think you are too clever to need...well too modern perhas .
A Liberal that truly did would be a Conservative as JS Mill in some ways clearly was.

Newmania said...

Two party majoritarian voting is more democratic in other ways . Voting provides a protection against “first cheat “ syndrome

Oops ..that because both parties have to compete for the middling in an exaggerated way......and then theres SCOTLAND !!!!

Sorry I did go on a bit

Cicero said...

Woah! Newmania- there is a huge amount to respond to here!!

Firstly, it is clear that you are looking at the Liberal Democrats through quite a lot of prejudice! I would argue that Gladstonian values were not abandoned, though I agree that there were non-liberal influences within both the Liberal party and the SDP. (But BTW when Margaret Thatcher picked up Hayek's "Constitution of Liberty" and said "this is what we believe", she clearly had not read the last essay, called "Why I am not a Conservative"). FYI, I joined in 1979- I am not a recent Orange Book Convert.

On your argument over PR, I am just confused as to what you are trying to say. I believe that greater choice is in general a good thing. FPTP reduced politics to two hetrogeneous coalitions and the electorate can only make a choice between them. In my oppinion, the electorate do not need to be treated like fools. PR allows voters to make much more subtle choices: for example voting for Liberal Conservatives, but excluding Social Conservatives, or voting for Frank Field but against Peter Hain. Neither does it necessarily break the community link. Instead of seven seats in Buckinghamshire broken up piecemeal by the boundary commission into Aylesbury, Buckingham, Beaconsfield Chesham, MK North and South and Wycombe, (all Tory) we could have seven MPs for Buckinghamshire (Four Tory, Two Labour, One Liberal Democrat, which reflects more acurately how people voted). Conversely Conservatives could gain seats in cities where they have any representation right now. Neither is STV party based (I don't support a list system anyway), so independents could also be elected- if enough people are prepared to vote for them.

A more diverse House of Commons would be a far better protector of our liberties than the whipped MPs who never vote against the government, even when it is clearly wrong. So I disagree that politics is infantilised by PR- in my view voters get more power, which is a good thing, not less.

We are not anti European and do not wish to withdraw from the EU (neither, whatever the nods and winks does Mr. Cameron). However the EU urgently needs reforms, and we have argued for the repatriation of major policy areas- which we believe is more attainable than Conservatives seem to think- and we think that any constitution must set explict limits to what the EU may get involved with and set democratic oversight over the whole institutions.

A copy of On Liberty is actually the symbol of office of the Liberal Democrats party president.

When it comes to identity, we believe that the UK has several intesecting layers. We are explitly a state of different nations: English, Welsh, Scots, (Northern) Irish. We share a British culural and political identity. To an extent, we have a wider European cultural identity. As individuals, we have other allegiances, our political parties, the groups that we chose to join, possibly religious or ethnic identities. I do not think that Liberal Democrats are any less patriotic because we celebrate this diversity, our open society and our tolerance- one does not need to be a chauvinist to be a patriot.

As far as the role of the state is concerned: under Labour it is clearly trying to do too much and is failing and too expensive. We want to see a migration of power away from Whitehall, including greater local control and more diverse provision of services- including the private sectors. The overall tax burden is, if anything, too high, and direct taxes probably need to come down faster as we enter recession. If we were ever "Socialist" -which I vehemently dispute- we certainly are not now.

Newmania said...

I have judgement
You have prejudice
He is a rancid propogandist ?

*Shrug*



On votes , you do not consider results carefully enough and if you do not understand what I have said that is likely to remain the case. Your position is laughably transparent anyway. Now why would the centre Party like transferable votes eh...... *scratches head* Get out of your pulpit ..we know what this is about .. I am not sure what the cunning scheme you mention actually is though.

On identity you have made a blancmange out what are real loyalties called on for defence and for civilised society. This bourgeois confection of bits of this and that you can keep for your personal amusement ,meanwhile you will continue to betray the loyal people of this country on Europe and immigration. I am not interested in the memos you scribble so as to be able to pretend it was not your fault. I suspect you have not thought hard about the value of coherence and even the spiritual value of a “people “ anyway.. I daresay you despise such values.

On the size of the state I actually agree with sadly your Party does not , and then it does , and somewhere else it does not.. There is no momentum from it in any direction and you naive in the extreme to imagine the sort of views you appear to have are the Liberal Democratic Party . Incidentally , I do not “believe” in Hayek and nor did Margaret Thatcher , that was rhetoric , in the context of the over regulated country she inherited from Callaghan. . Conservatism is about much more than markets.

It is about real people body mind and soul and not easy to reduce to a little book.

You`ll learn ,in fact you dont seem such a bad sort , just a little overly academic...

Cicero said...

Well, Newmania, I like the verb declension as some of the rest, well, you might turn the patronising tone down a bit.

Having been a member for 29 years, I am not going to accept what *your* definition of what you think *my* party stands for.

I am a Mill Liberal, and if there are Socialists in my party, then let us agree that the Conservatives comprise a pretty broad church too. However, my party is united around a clear set of principles and quite detailed policies, and I have contributed to several of these policy ideas myself.

Sure, of course, PR benefits the Lib Dems- and why should it not? We consistently gain around one in five or even one in four of the votes cast and get between one in ten and one in fouteen of the seats- and that is NOT what our voters should be getting.

We think that your party is already a coalition (cf. Lord tebbit and John Bercow), as is Labour to an even greater degree- but it is not open or honest about where it has made its compromises. It would be far more honest to be open about this and to allow the voters a greater say in what polcies are actually adopted. In my view it would also promote greater independece amongst MPs. The current system is being far more self interested than the Liberal Democrats are being. Unless you are prepared to give the voters more power, you can hardly complain if the punters don't bother to use their fairly useless votes.

Historically, it is true that Conservatives were more pragmatic, but that led to the Butskillite mush of Post war politics. Margeret Thatcher adopted part of the Liberal political agenda, but made big mistakes, like privatising Gas as a monopoly which took years to fix.

I don't reduce the individual to "a little book", but I do beleive that people like Hayek, and Mill and Locke as well as many others can provide insights in how we could tackle the political problems that we see today. But, I do take your point that Lib Dems probably *are* more ideological than the other two Parties- how else could we have survived, except by being quite determined about what we do and do not believe in?
On identity, as a Scot by heritage, but not residence, I will have to differ with your view of what kind of State our country actually is- and yes before i became a Financier, I was indeed an Academic. :-)
Have a Good Weekend

Newmania said...

Well most if that is dancing on a pin to the point of the miraculous.Ideological... ha ha . I am helping attack Norman Baker here and the letter I have just had in the Press locally (today) sums up some of the problems in general. I wonder if he will reply …hope so .

Busy Mr. Baker may have all sorts of interesting ideas about the EU`s stipulations for waste,(Letter 1.4.08), but it will be news to many, that unelected foreign bureaucrats have any say on the vexed question of local incinerators at all. It will puzzle yet more, that an MP who advertises his concerns about transparency graft and local decision making, should blindly support an internationalist project awash with waste, and contemptuous both of our country and democratic accountability, as his Party does.


Contradictions abound. His much mocked parallel career in investigative journalism has earned our MP the reputation of being Lewes`s Miss Marple, but as a member of the left wing Beveridge group he supports exactly the dinosaur sized state which makes the abuse of taxpayers money he reveals ,inevitable .Furthermore, confusing our friendship with the US with handing over our country’s right to decide anything at all ,as he did, strikes me as ..what was the word he used about UKIP ..“unhinged”.

There may be a place for such picturesque “radicalism”, animal rights obsession and bizarre conspiracy theories. A sixth form debating society in about 1979 would be my suggestion but others, no doubt , find his eccentricities more appealing .

Perhaps they would bear in mind that the best way to ensure we continue to be bullied by the most authoritarian regime since the war is to vote for Norman Baker."

Cicero said...

Oh dear. It seeems I have been humouring a nutcase. I think you have jumped the shark there.

Shame

Newmania said...

It may comfort you to say so , or perhaps satisy some attenuated need to display residual machismo.You have suceeded only in showning yourself for what you are .

A silly vain old man who mistook "academic" for " an academic" long ago.

Tragic is too large a word

Prat will do nicely

Cicero said...

Perhap if you re-read your pieces you wil see that it looks like stuff written by someone who uses green ink! You stoop to ad hominem (and absurd) attacks on Norman Baker and when I object you start to insult me. According to your profile I am two years younger than you, so throwing some ageist commentary into the rambling and incoherrent mixture is equally laughable. I am trying to put forward ideas- you are trying to promote a political cause that in Lewes is not going anywhere. You are so angry that the Conservatives lose there, that you you have quite clearly lost the plot. You have certainly lost the argument when you resort to these tactics.

Newmania said...

"when I object you start to insult me."

No when you insult me (nut case ?),I insult you back .You are just more of a tart about it than I am . I express myself in a manner such as to get a hearing in a local Paper but I make the points Baker will not like.
1 His Party/ Your Party is localist but also internationalist which is a fraudulent and contradictory positon which will chime with local anti EU feeling especially among swing Tory /liberal voters .
2 He busily makes himself known as a good local MP by peering into nooks and crannies but this does no-one here any good and deflects attention from the issues that do affect us all. On those he is on the wrong side of the arguement and i want that higlighted above the endless baby kissing rubbish,
3 Liberal votes in a swing .Tory seat are Brown votes and the Liberal Party may yet actually prop up the regime.


All entirely valid , but as you see to want to have a quiet little cry I `ll leave you to it

Cicero said...

I don't see the disconnect between localism- wanting to bring decisions close to those most directly involved and internationalism- beleiving that our country should abide by the treaties that it signs and be pro-active in promoting international cooperation to tackle certain problems that it is difficult to tackle as a single state. That there are internationalists that are also federalists does not mean that all internationalists are federalists. I am certainly not a federalist.

As far as Norman Baker is concerned, as you concede yourself, he *has* been quite successful at holding some very powerful people to account, and is one of the most respected MPs in Parliament because of this. You argue that he should have other priorities, but personally I think we will have to agree to disagree- I think what he does is extrmely important, and you don't and neither do you like his style. I just think it cheapens the argument and turns people off politics altogether, when you launched into angry and- in my view- unjustified ad hominem attacks against a man who is generally considered to be a good MP.

Meanwhile, both Conservatives and Labour try to paint the Lib Dems as *secretly* supporting the other side. Yet we really do not. We have a very clear political, economic and social agenda that is firmly anti Socialist.

I can point to several places where Conservatives are in local alliance with Labour, but that fact that you or we sometimes find ourselves in that position does not change our core principles- and, as I have been trying to underline in this blog, Liberal principles are both powerful and quite different from those of Labour, and indeed the Conservatives. It is just wrong to try to paint us Brown- or Blue.

You will keep trying to do this because- rightly- you think it is politically damaging to us. It is still a dishonest position for you to take though.

Anonymous said...

I am a Conservative but strongly support Cicero in the ongoing debate with Newmania. I sense that the latter has a problem with foreigners coming to settle in the UK (as his Xenophobia is scarcely concealed).

As my mother was an immigrant (she volunteered to serve in a British uniform during the war by the way) and my wife is likewise, such views repel me. Indeed, the more Newmania writes the more Liberal (with a capital L) I become.

I believe that immigration adds vibrancy and strength to a population. For example, the Financial Services sector in the UK is greatly helped by the fact that London is an international entrepot. In a different sense, the fact that countless Poles and other middle Europeans are prepared to work hard for paltry wages means that many others in our society can control their weekly spending on food.

The key criterion is not where someone originated (a matter surely beyond their control) but what they offer to the society they settle in. From my experience (and Newmania may disparage this in some overheated fashion) most immigrants have a positive contribution to make.

If you are concerned about state resources being used to support 'freeloaders' then the key reforms should be to the overall benefits system. If 'security' fears drive you, then you should realise that, as an island, our borders have always been porous and will never be entirely unbreachable. Our best defence is not a ring of steel around us - that will only become a cage - but the values which unite us or in part have defined us to foreigners - courtesy being amongst the foremost (precisely the qualities absent in Newmania's offering, thus far).

Cicero, although often wrong in my opinion, deserves appreciation for the fact that he cares about this country and attempts to shape the ongoing national debate in lucid, positive terms. Newmania, if you wish to challenge Cicero, it would be advisable to treat him with some good humour and respect, for to fail in this respect only leaves him enhanced and you appearing like a rather shabby, unhappy and unpleasant person.

Yours, in Conservative solidarity,


Wheatley

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