Skip to main content

100 not out

This, I notice, is my 100th posting on this blog.

Reviewing previous postings I am slightly surprised by the variety of themes that have been covered. However, I am still trying to convey a sense of what I believe are the core truths about the Liberal ideology and why I think that they are important.

For the Liberal Democrats the last few months have been a generally difficult time. There has been the concern that a reviving Conservative party will damage the Liberal Democrats next time. Indeed the local election results demonstrated that the Conservatives remain a force. Nevertheless the flat result for the Liberal Democrats masks some quite wide differences: success in Richmond, failure in Islington, considerable success in the north of England, a drift in the south.

However aside from the Conservatives mild revival, there have been many internal problems for the Liberal Democrats too. Some of this has come from the obvious sense of disappointment that more progress was not made in winning seats. Some negative sentiment was the result of rather chaotic and brutal removal of Charles Kennedy as party leader, combined with the unaccustomed whiff of scandal amongst our own MPs. The peccadilloes of Mark Oaten did not reflect well, although they generally added to the gaiety of the nation. More seriously, the Michael Brown affair has led to concerns that insufficient checks were made on donors to the party's campaign. This has left a sense that the party leadership in Cowley Street was losing its grip. To be honest the whole set up at the Party HQ has needed to be sorted out for some time.

Yet the result in Dunfermline also demonstrates the continuing appeal of the Liberal Democrats. The election of Ming Campbell too has steadied the ship- despite the personal attacks on him, he is, as I hoped, proving to be a collegiate and effective leader. More to the point is that he is a politician of substance and is crafting a policy agenda of substance. It is an agenda which is going back to the radical root of Liberalism, it is imbued with the Liberal idea that there must be explicit limits to state power in both social and economic spheres. This encourages me enormously, since it gives us a clarity which other parties lack.

The intellectual discipline of our business manifesto last time is spreading across all of our policy formation teams. The abolition of the DTi, the sunset clauses on new business legislation, the abolition of large parts of regulation- all were things that I campaigned for enthusiatically. The lazy and sloppy thinking of the current government, whose knee-jerk response to any problem is to create more legislation has only been echoed by the Conservatives. By contrast, the Liberal Democrats would abolish much of the bad and badly constructed legislation that has been this government's enduring legacy. Instead of the incredibly expensive and ineffective tax credit system, we would make the tax code simpler and reduce the general level of taxation, for example. No expensive and pointless ID cards.

Only in green policy would we create a new regulatory regime. Encouraging sustainability and punishing wasteful and polluting activity is critical to reducing CO2 emissions and reducing pollution. As Liberals we accept peoples rights to drive a 4x4 if they want to- but they can not force the rest of us to pay the price, and that is why these wasteful and inefficient cars would receive a stiff tax, to off-set the damage that they cause (and hopefully dissuade some people from buying one in the first place).

New ideas and imaginative policies- this is the key to the future of the party and of the ideology of Liberalism. In the face of the failures of the government and the policy vacuum of the Conservatives, it is refreshing to hear competent and well thought out policies coming through. The problems of the party HQ are now being addressed, and the new broom is beginning to address some of the tactical mistakes that the party has been making. I am much cheered by the progress that is being made.

We are putting our house in order. We are crafting an agenda of substance. We are using our ideology to create imaginative and radical ideas. This- and not the cynical blow dried vacuity of the Conservatives- is what will capture the attention of the voters. While the novelty of a Tory who does not look like a space alien has not yet worn off, it will.

By then we will be ready for the fight.


Popular posts from this blog

Post Truth and Justice

The past decade has seen the rise of so-called "post truth" politics.  Instead of mere misrepresentation of facts to serve an argument, political figures began to put forward arguments which denied easily provable facts, and then blustered and browbeat those who pointed out the lie.  The political class was able to get away with "post truth" positions because the infrastructure that reported their activity has been suborned directly into the process. In short, the media abandoned long-cherished traditions of objectivity and began a slow slide into undeclared bias and partisanship.  The "fourth estate" was always a key piece of how democratic societies worked, since the press, and later the broadcast media could shape opinion by the way they reported on the political process. As a result there has never been a golden age of objective media, but nevertheless individual reporters acquired better or worse reputations for the quality of their reporting and

We need to talk about UK corruption

After a long hiatus, mostly to do with indolence and partly to do with the general election campaign, I feel compelled to take up the metaphorical pen and make a few comments on where I see the situation of the UK in the aftermath of the "Brexit election". OK, so we lost.  We can blame many reasons, though fundamentally the Conservatives refused to make the mistakes of 2017 and Labour and especially the Liberal Democrats made every mistake that could be made.  Indeed the biggest mistake of all was allowing Johnson to hold the election at all, when another six months would probably have eaten the Conservative Party alive.  It was Jo Swinson's first, but perhaps most critical, mistake to make, and from it came all the others.  The flow of defectors and money persuaded the Liberal Democrat bunker that an election could only be better for the Lib Dems, and as far as votes were concerned, the party did indeed increase its vote by 1.3 million.   BUT, and it really is the bi

Media misdirection

In the small print of the UK budget we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the British Finance Minister) has allocated a further 15 billion Pounds to the funding for the UK track and trace system. This means that the cost of the UK´s track and trace system is now 37 billion Pounds.  That is approximately €43 billion or US$51 billion, which is to say that it is amount of money greater than the national GDP of over 110 countries, or if you prefer, it is roughly the same number as the combined GDP of the 34 smallest economies of the planet.  As at December 2020, 70% of the contracts for the track and trace system were awarded by the Conservative government without a competitive tender being made . The program is overseen by Dido Harding , who is not only a Conservative Life Peer, but the wife of a Conservative MP, John Penrose, and a contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford. Many of these untendered contracts have been given to companies that seem to have no notewo