Cable – has he hit the right notes here? What future is there for the center-left in UK politics?

The Guardian has a comment piece by Vince Cable on its web site – see link below

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/12/wealth-inequality-liberal-democrats-economic-reform

The left of British politics has struggled in recent times to put forward a credible alternative to the popularist right wing policies of the Tories/DUP/UKIP and this despite this same right wing cabal trying to drive through a Brexit which will hurt us all, make the poor poorer and lead to job losses and reduce investment in the UK. You would think this nightmare scenario would galvanise the left into action but sadly that has not happened.

Socialism and an economy based on private capital being invested in it never mix well

Yes Corbyn has his social policy agenda which could look good to voters at face value, but of course he is also wedded to the the right wing policy of Brexit! He’s in that rather bizarre political fix because many of his so called ‘working class’ supporters voted for a Brexit that will sadly shoot us all in the foot (but the poor more so) if it is followed through. So Labour is not presently credible because its policies of the left will be knocked out by Brexit. What’s more socialism and an economy based on private capital being invested in it never mix well. On that basis Corbyn’s lot would probably be a very unhappy one if he was given the opportunity to implement his policies. Indeed, he would be unlikely to be able to deliver his agenda other than in the very short term because economic trouble would surely be stalking him.

Influence the thinking of those across the left

So how do the ideas of Vince Cable stack up? Well he’s leading a party with a low support base so being able to implement his agenda looks to be a significant challenge. I suppose his best bet is to try to influence the thinking of those across the left, but not of the hard left of course. His agenda seems liberal, progressive and even radical. I particularly like his ideas to try to tackle the area of land value as it is of course the basis of the huge imbalance in wealth in the UK.

Back to the days of fascism?

British politics has been turned on its head since the 2016 Brexit vote. The Tories are all but UKIP under a Conservative flag these days and worryingly they have people amongst their leading lights who hark back to the days of fascism. Bluntly a political party with only around 100,000 members, many of them of the elderly, rich and far right are running this country into the ground because they will benefit from such a move. Brexit is the vehicle to achieve their aims and the left has not found a way to combat them because there’s no one of stature (with widespread credibility) on the left to lead that charge.

Breadth of support across the political spectrum

It’s as though our two major UK political parties have both gone into crisis at the same time and this really has not happened before. Labour under say David Miliband would be widely credible, Labour under Corbyn is hugely popular with a section of the British public but it does not in my view have the breadth of support across the political spectrum as Blair did to carry the day it seems.

Realignment of the left

Now don’t get me wrong Blair made some huge mistakes. Iraq obviously and trying to bring private companies into the NHS come to mind as examples but there was a much softer issue of huge importance which he let slip. It slipped ironically because of the huge majority he was given by our rather warped electoral system. That result made him think that realignment of the left need not be pursued further. His talks with Ashdown came to nothing because he thought he did not need to pursue them any more and his party was far from keen on those talks too. That was a huge error of judgement and an easy way out in my view and it probably started the decline (although no one realised it at the time other than a few enlightened folk) into the mess we presently find ourselves in.

The super rich will indeed become more wealthy at the expense of the rest of us

I have deliberately written this posting in a reasonably even handed way as I am convinced that progressives across all the parties of the center and left (although this would almost certainly have to preclude the hard left) need to find a reasonable common agenda which they can coalesce around. This needs to be done to face down the the rich and presently all too powerful right wing. If the left fails the right will reduce workers rights, environmental protections, food standards etc. on the back of Brexit and the minority of the super rich will indeed become more wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

Put tribal politics to one side?

So having gone though these sobering issues is Cable on the right track? Will anyone be listening to his ideas to re-balance our fractured society? Or will the center and left continue to beat itself up whilst letting the need for great reform in the UK flounder on the back of Brexit? My view is that Cable is putting a credible progressive plan out there which others could work around and build upon if they could just put tribal politics to one side.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

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!

Realignment of the left

birkdalefocus.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/realighnment-of-left.html

It’s no surprise that Cllr. Iain Brodie Browne is making and commenting on the case for realignment of the left. British politics is in a terrible mess and we are facing Tory (UKIP Lite) rule for many years to come. That should be a prospect to worry any progressive.

Have a read of Iain’s thinking and indeed that of other progressives, including the late great Jo Grimond, via the link above to Iain’s Birkdale Focus blog site.

If Labour can address its tribalistic approach to British politics there may be a chance for progressives to win a fight with our selfish, privileged, divisive Tory rulers. If it can’t then it’s probably going to be Tory rule for a long, long time indeed.

Iain’s reference to Neil Kinnock is interesting as I recall that he started off as very much a left wing MP who was anti-Europe. But he seemed to travel ever towards the right of his party. He also ended up working for the EU. BTW what on earth is it which makes some left wingers anti-EU? Makes no sense to me as surely socialism is supposed to be international. Maybe it’s that strand of socialism which is narrow inward looking and nationalistic?

The Left – Every sect thinks it’s tribal way is the right way hence the Tories are in power more often than not

The left of British politics has always been factionalised with numerous socialist parties coming and going, the Labour Party often engaged in vicious internal warfare (as they are at present) and the Lib Dems, in recent years, having been pulled towards economic rather than social liberalism. Of course looking back a while the SDP also failed to ‘break the mould’ as it became split by the ‘Owen’ factor amongst other things.

The lack of unity on the left has always been a problem and our warped first past the post electoral system has also helped to put many Tory Governments in power who have nothing like majority popular support; just like the present one.

What beggars belief therefore is why when Labour have grabbed power for the odd short period they have not pursued electoral reform and a fair voting system. I suppose the last Labour government was too arrogant and thought their ‘New Labour’ guise would last and be popular for generations. Well it wasn’t so Labour went further to the right in opposition, even openly bashing the poor along the way. But as they became labeled Red Tories the electorate said stuff that we may as well have proper Tories.

The Lib Dems also discredited themselves by lying about Tuition Fees in 2010. Nick Clegg thought the electorate would forgive him. They didn’t. Indeed, because many of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 thought he was a straight forward chap whom they could trust his backing out of a clear promise caused them to drop him and his party like a stone. They expected other parties to tell porkies but having been persuaded the Lib Dems were trustworthy they turned against them big time. Rebuilding that lack of trust in the Lib Dems is probably Tim Farron’s biggest challenge.

The Greens tried lurching to left after 2010 and were the most socialist of the mainstream parties at the last general election but of course this move set their traditional environmentalist sect against an upstart socialist sect. Socialism and environmentalism have never sat comfortably together in my experience. Socialists on Merseyside that I have come across have always seemed to be very much disinterested in environmental issues.

But within the left there is at the heart of so many of its difficulties one major factor that causes the disunity which the Tories always benefit from. Many left wing sects think they are absolutely right and all other left wing sects are utterly wrong. Such tribalism then sets these sects against each other and the Tories win again whilst the left debates, often viciously, who is right and who is wrong. In differing ways I think that the emergence of the SDP and the rise of Tony Blair were reactions to the self destructive nature of the left.

The SDP failed and despite huge initial success Blair’s New Labour failed because he wandered to far right, got involved in the appalling Iraq war and probably laid the foundations for Labour to be cat called ‘Red Tories’.

The real danger that the left faces now is that we could have a seriously right wing Tory Party in power for a generation with UKIP effectively pulling their levers. Is this not enough of a nightmare to sober up the left of British politics?

Corbyn/McDonnell – The Labour dilemma

Are Corbyn/McDonnell not already in danger of compromising their ‘hardish left’ views simply to keep the majority of right wing Labour MP’s on board?

Yes I know this question comes from me a Liberal opponent of Labour but never the less surely those right wing Labour MP’s have to be deselected (they did not want Corbyn and certainly did not vote for him) or Corbyn and this shadow chancellor McDonnell will have to continue to compromise what they believe in to keep them from rebelling.

Even then it won’t work though as those right wingers will see them off at the first opportunity because they only pledge their support to Labour not to Corbyn and his leadership people. Their first real attack will probably come after the local elections next May if Labour performs poorly.

My advice to socialists in the Labour Party is to do what happened to them in the Kinnock era or they will soon be back where they started with a new right wing Labour Leadership.

Corbin for Labour Leader!

No this is not an attempt to persuade Labour members to elect a new Leader who will make Labour unelectable but more to make them think about why someone like Jeremy Corbin is right in what he identifies as problems but wrong in the way he and fellow socialists think the state, councils and big public institutions are the best way to address those problems.

Corbin is what I would identify as a real socialist and there are few of them in the Labour Party these days. I have worked with true socialists for years in the trade union movement and have a great deal of respect for them even though I think that they come to the wrong conclusions over matters where we share common identification of problems that need addressing.

If I was a member of the Labour Party about to take part in their Leadership vote I would have to urge fellow Labour Party members to vote for Corbin but I am not because I have never felt that the solutions that socialists and Labour folk come up with will actually work. But at least he identifies what the real (mainly social problems) are, which is far more than you can say about the other candidates to be Labour Leader.

Where Liberals and socialists divide is that Liberals see the solutions to social problems in particular as being ones that need people to be empowered and set free from the tyranny of the state, councils and big public institutions. We come to that conclusion not because we don’t see a role for the state, councils and public institutions, because we do, but we also see them as being too cumbersome, too bureaucratic and too remote to effectively solve many issues.

In our Leadership election I think it would be fair to say that both Tim Farron and Norman Lamb could be seen as being of the left, indeed I have heard Farron, whom I have just voted for, refer to himself as ‘a bit of a leftie’.

We Liberals often encounter Labour on Councils and working with them can be hard work because of their ‘our way or no way’ approach. Indeed, I would say that Labour often stands in the way of positive progress because they are too slow to react, too reluctant to empower people and all too willing to do things to people rather then giving them the tools to do things for themselves. I would go further though as it strikes me that some in the Labour Party feel they can’t afford to empower people because if they did those people may not need to depend on the Labour Party any more. Dependent voters are useful voters for Labour.

So yes, of the candidates standing for the Labour Leadership Jeremy Corbin is about the best one not least because the others are far too right wing for my liking.