Farron, religion and Liberalism

That a thoroughly decent man has been forced from public office is a given and I say that as an atheist.

Yes I was very uncomfortable watching Tim contort himself into knots when asked about his religious views and yes the media were out to do him harm over his religion. Just think about it, how many other leading politicians have strong religious views and how many of them have been hounded out of office for holding them? Blair got some stick because he was Roman Catholic but I struggle to think of many others in recent times.

Did Tim bring trouble upon himself? Well yes to some extent because of this contorted answers that had us all scratching our heads. And you know despite his odd answers he actually did a lot to back minority rights and the LGBT community have acknowledged that apart from what I will call their more militant fringe.

Can you be a Liberal hold religious views? Well you must be able to as there seem to be many people out there who do. Anyway one of the significant strands of liberalism comes from ‘Chapel Liberals’ and Methodism. I am sure my dear old Mum was a Chapel Liberal and I personally know many Lib Dem’s who hold strong religious views and I count them as my friends.

The crunch issue as I see it is this. As a Liberal your guiding light is the rights of others and your being willing to stand up for those rights even when you personally do not subscribe to them. That’s what Tim Farron tried to do, that’s why he stood up for LGBT rights even though his religion was seemingly telling him otherwise. His problem was being unable to publicly reconcile his liberalism and religion when the contradictions were put to him by the media. And once he had shown weakness the first time he was asked about the matter it was always going to be where the media homed in.

Were the media involved in bullying and intimidation? Yes of course they were, indeed they were acting as though they were from the 1950’s and steeped in intolerance with more than a hint of the Spanish Inquisition thrown in for good (or is that bad) measure. It’s as though Farron were being treated as a criminal for holding religious and political views, it’s a sad reflection on our reactionary media and the intolerant times we live in.

Yes of course opposition politicians also exploited Tim’s inability to answer straight forward questions on the potential conflict between his religion and his liberalism. I picked up what I viewed to be political trolling comments on this very matter.

Brexit has split us very deeply because it has brought back into focus views that people used to be ashamed of talking about – racism, intolerance, homophobia, etc. Farron in my view became a victim of that new intolerant culture and it shames our society greatly.

One last thing, the schism on the left of British politics is not actually so much about policy but about libertarian versus authoritarian approaches. In general terms socialism is more authoritarian and liberalism is obviously libertarian. Tell you what is good for you as opposed to giving you the facts to make your own mind up you could say. Quite obviously our society is by its nature these days far more authoritarian and less libertarian. I hope it goes without saying that Conservatism is also authoritarian.

Authoritarian societies don’t tolerate differences from the norm and the norm is usually set by the ruling classes. Farron is, like many Liberals before him and those who will follow him, too libertarian to be tolerated by a media and a political establishment that see most things very black and white, right and wrong.

Don’t look upon Farron as someone you liked or disliked in party political terms, look upon him as someone our society showed the door to because he was not conforming to the norms as interpreted by the media and the establishmnet. Then look at other minorities and think about them too, who will be next?

Oh yes and Farron stood in 2017 General Election on a policy of tolerance!

It’s about time that the Liberal Democrats really did propose radical solutions to poverty

‘We are remarkable but so helplessly stupid’ was a remark made to me by Jen Robertson the other day. The context of the remark was in relation to the UK being able and willing to design and build the magnificent new Widnes – Runcorn bridge whilst we are at the same time incapable, or is that unwilling, to tackle poverty effectively.

And it got me thinking because you know that whilst many of us are reasonably well provided for many others, in our supposedly civilised but less so every day country, are not. At the same time our government is turning its back on refugee children, along with anyone from the EU, and they are in effect all but cheerleaders for that nasty brand of racism which tells people who have come to live here and work for our vital public services to go home.

I don’t know about you but I am rather ashamed of where our country is going as its steps towards some kind of fascist state where alternative opinion is shouted down and the rich and powerful increase their grip on our economy.

It’s time we fought back because Labour will not as they have inexplicably backed Teresa May’s hard Brexit government and all the right wing dogma that goes with it. Labour is an embarrassment as our official opposition.

So what do radicals, Liberals and progressives do to turn the tide, because if we don’t turn it no one else will. I start with the preamble to the Lib Dem Party Constitution where it says ‘no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.’ Well hey many of our fellow citizens are enslaved by poverty, ignorance and conformity and every step of this wretched government and their Labour lackeys takes us further down that rather sickening road.

No one benefits from the 3 things above apart from the rich and the powerful yet our society seems to be moving ever nearer to belittling the poor, valuing ignorance and demanding conformity. If we are to ever again consider ourselves civilised in any meaningful way this has to be reversed.

Firstly, we need to seriously consider promoting a citizens income/universal basic income policy as opposed to the pitiful minimum wage that underpins an underclass of the poor and keeps them from rioting in the streets.

Secondly, we need a first class education system that teaches our young people real skills for work and life, not a box ticking bureaucratic, form filling system that brings academic successes for the middle classes and failure for that troublesome under class whilst driving teachers around the bend.

Thirdly, we need a fully functioning health and care system that values those who work for it as much as those who depend on it. Instead, we have a barely functioning health and care system that the well provided for can skip via their ability to buy the kind of care we all deserve but only they can afford.

And whilst doing this we need to be putting the environment we live in at the heart of all we do because it will create meaningful jobs, clean up the places where we live and work and mean that we are passing progress onto future generations, not pollution and illness and death.

And for those who say ‘this is too radical an agenda, no one will support it or vote for it’ I say well go out and fight for it and against the vested interests who promote poverty, fight for our struggling NHS, our crisis ridden elderly care services, fight the poisonous air we breath, the inadequate education that poor children get. Things will never change unless progressives, Liberals and radicals grab the agenda and promote it.

We have been through social revolutions before but we probably need one now otherwise the poor will get poorer and the rich will get richer. And don’t kid yourself that this is a socialist agenda that can easily be dismissed; it’s not, because our so called socialist party of opposition will never take it on as they are part of the problem not the solution. They need enslaved people to support them, their Councils have presided over too many poverty ridden communities without making much if any headway. They are the politics of the past where poverty ignorance and conformity was how things were and like the Tories they have all but accepted that such will be the case forever.

It’s time for radical thinking, not moderation and muddling on. We can address poverty, ignorance and conformity if we really want to. So do we want to?

Tribalism – I’m in the tribe so everything the tribal leaders do is OK by me

Politics is full of tribalism and the Labour Party wears its tribal loyalty like a badge of pride as an obvious example. I don’t think I will ever forget MP Andy Burnham making it clear that his party came first in a Labour Leadership hustings interview, only to be shouted down by one of his own (MP Liz Kendal) saying ‘Country first’.

But here in the UK we have always had a sneaking admiration for those who at face value are a part of tribe but who are actually mavericks with a mind of their own. MP Ken Clarke is an obvious non-tribal Tory who will kick out when he thinks his party is in the wrong. Of course Jeremy Corbyn MP made a name for himself by not supporting the Labour Leader of the day when he was a back bencher. It’s ironic that he’s now whipped Labour Remain MP’s to vote for Brexit and that the vast majority of them actually followed him down a Brexit road they do not believe in! That’s taking tribal loyalty far to far in my book.

As a Liberal I take the view that if my Lib Dem party tries to push me a certain way then by instinct my reaction can easily be to refuse. Liberals are by their very nature very hard to whip as they are free thinking individuals who coalesce around a common broad agenda.

But with the advent of Trump and his supporters we start to see a whole new and hugely troubling tribalistic agenda that his supports are fully signed up to. They don’t check whether what he says is right or wrong, they simply back it. They don’t actually care if it is right or wrong/truth or lie, if he says something/anything they want to hear. They will seemingly follow him anywhere he goes like the unthinking have followed despots across the world before. This is of course the road to fascism!

We all like to belong to groups that think like us but we do ourselves a great disservice by blindly following the crowd or the tribe and we believe/support everything our chosen or given leaders tell us.

You can’t be a a Liberal without questioning most things you come across, its a burden at times when siting back and repeating the propaganda of a leader is a lot easier.

Just look at this way who does trump rant against? The media, immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans etc. Who does he put in power? The powerful, the wealthy. people who disrespect our world environment, people who think like him.

Any leader who surrounds themselves with too many like thinking people is facing trouble as leaders need to be challenged by advisors not told they are wonderful.

As for Trump’s attacks on the media, yes of course some media outlets are utterly irresponsible. We saw it in the UK over Brexit – There was nothing some media outlets would not stop at to fuel prejudices that they had implanted in the minds of their readers over generations even though their ‘truth’ was obviously lies to anyone who looked behind the ranting headlines. BUT we are supposed to live in a free society with a free press. That means that the press can say things that are not true but they can be challenged by those who know the truth is being distorted. Trump only wants his ‘truth’ to be heard/printed not the ‘truth’ and that’s another step towards fascism.

Give tribalism the boot, it leads to despotism and fascism.

Liberals – Why it’s good to hear that some folks really don’t like them

I’ve been a Liberal all my adult life (having read the 3 major party manifestos from the 1979 General Election I realised I was indeed a Liberal) and throughout that time I have often heard people say things like Liberals are nice people, you care about people and other such comments.

Of course I have also heard just the opposite when former Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg, foolishly in my view, dropped opposition to Labour’s Student Tuition Fees. In some ways it was not actually about Tuition Fees, it was about trust and not carrying out what folks thought the Lib Dems had said they stood for. By gum some lessons were learned there and rightly so!

Now with the incredibly stupid idea of us leaving the EU and most probably tipping the UK economy over the edge in the process Liberals have been leading the fight against Brexit – along with the SNP in Scotland of course. This has polarised opinions and many on the right in particular really do hate us Liberals for our pro-EU stance.

But whilst the country is going to the dogs liberalism is on the rise – I am told that membership of the Lib Dem Party is soaring to its highest levels in a very long time. And you know I don’t think it is at all a bad thing for Liberals to be unpopular with people who support Brexit and who hold illiberal views on many other things. Some of them may even have voted Liberal in the past not really knowing how pro-EU we Liberals are but they won’t be making that mistake again I am sure!

10 reasons to dislike Liberals:-

If you hate the EU
If you are a racist
If you like our appalling unrepresentative voting system
If you are intolerant towards people from other countries
If you support UKIP
If you care little for environmental issues
If you are a Little Englander
If you think that Donald Trump is a good thing
If you change facts to fit with your own views
If you can’t see how beneficial it is to have people from other countries working and studying in the UK

I could go on but I guess you get my drift.

The cause of Liberalism has clearly been reignited by the EU Referendum, especially with Labour being so all over the place on this most crucial of issues.

No, I’m happy that some folks really don’t like Liberals because that means we are doing the right things and not trying to be all things to all people. And that’s a lesson that Labour has seemingly not yet learned. When over 60% of Labour voters supported staying in the EU they switch away from their admittedly half hearted Remain support and choose to back Brexit and the views of their minority right wing supporters! And this from a party whose membership is now predominately left wing. You really could not make up the tangle Labour have got themselves into could you. Of course that’s why Labour members who are also liberal and pro-EU by instinct are leaving that party and joining the Lib Dems.

If the Lib Dems have always had an obvious problem it has been trying to nail down what the party stands for in the minds of the electorate. Well that nailing down has clearly been done now!

In search of Robin Hood in a society that now seems to take from the poor to give to the rich

Maybe as a Nottinghamshire lad and a Liberal it’s no surprise that I see redistribution of wealth from the richest to the poorest in our society as being fundamental to a caring socially progressive society.

Basket weaved statue of Robin Hood in the grounds of Nottingham Castle

Basket weaved statue of Robin Hood in the grounds of Nottingham Castle

Maybe it’s because we seem to be going in exactly the opposite direction that I and other progressives are saying we can’t keep running our society based on the principle of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

Statue of Robin Hood outside Nottingham Castle

Statue of Robin Hood outside Nottingham Castle

From Thatcher through to Blair, Brown and now Cameron we have been building a society that seems to be ever more selfish and about the greed of individuals rather than about the common good and the environment we all depend on.

Looking across the pond to Canada and the recent election of a truly Liberal government there gives some hope though. Advocating a free and inclusive society, strong environmental stewardship whilst embracing diversity is something that electors will clearly endorse if political leaders are credible. Sadly, credible political leaders are in short supply in the UK.

Could you imagine David Cameron doing this:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQeaimHDcEU

no neither could I and it shows how our society is changing for the worse in my view. Years ago our government would have been welcoming those with nothing, now we are governed by people who turn their back on desperate people and who do as little as they can get away with.

Are we really going to continue down the road of division, class war and the rich getting ever more bloated at the expense of the poor? Such a vision is not worthy of what we like to call our civilised society.

The photos are also amongst my Flickr photos at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/