Click on the bar chart to enlarge it
A quite remarkable change in Lib Dem fortunes with both Tories and Labour doing really badly.
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!
I’m no socialist and no Labour supporter but I have often felt that the media has had it in for Corbyn. Yes, of course he is no great leader of men and women but he does have principles even if I don’t subscribe to them personally. For what it is worth my view is that he has done the right thing in taking the Labour Party back to its socialist roots.
However, with regard to the EU Referendum Labour, under his leadership, has adopted more opposing positions than you can shake a stick at!
It was obvious from day one of the EU campaign that Labour were not sure which side of the fence they were on. In the end, by what seemed like a slim internal leadership majority, they backed Remain but the lack of enthusiasm was there for all to see. Don’t get me wrong I am the first to acknowledge that some high profile Labour politicians really did back Remain with everything (Gordon Brown comes to mind) they had but the leadership’s heart was simply not in the fight.
Since the result of the referendum Labour has clearly been in a muddle with conflicting noises both pro and anti the EU leaking out of their bunker. Now with little more than a whimper Jeremy Corbyn announces that Labour is backing Brexit so firmly joining the UKIP/Tory camp! You really could not make this up but happening it is.
I realise that many of what Labour would call its ‘working class’ supporters have been voting UKIP in recent times and that by implication therefore many of them voted to leave the EU but Labour is supposed to be a progressive party of the left not a regressive party of the right. So at the very time Labour goes back to its socialist roots it also manages to embrace the greatest right wing conspiracy campaign we have seen in living memory!
This also means that on the biggest issue of our times the opposition in Parliament is being led by the Lib Dems and SNP because the major opposition party has in effect crossed the floor. Yes I am sure they will make a big noise over the dots and commas of the Brexit debate but on the fundamental issue of principle Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, have in my view become little more than collaborators with the Tories and UKIP.
And to think that only a couple of years ago Labour were, and with some justification, saying that the Lib Dems were propping up a Tory Government. How things change in such a short time.
But you know what I really can’t get my head around is that the EU has been a really positive body with regard to workers rights, social inclusion/social justice, environmental policy etc. All these things you would expect the Labour Leadership to shout from the roof tops but instead they back Brexit. As I say you could not make this up. But hey I’m a Liberal, many Labour Party folk seem too right wing to me.
H L Mencken wrote that for every complex question there is an obvious answer that is clear, simple and wrong.
And you know, probably never has a more true word been spoken especially if you look at our troubled times in 2016.
Remember the simple answers that the Brexiters poured all over the UK electorate to manipulate them into voting to leave the EU?
Remember the simplistic answers Trump gave the US electors to get them to vote for him?
Or how about ‘Brexit means Brexit’, just about the only thing of note our Prime Minister has had to say about the result and dire consequences of the EU Referendum. Trouble is that off the cuff phrase is not clear, obvious or simple but it certainly is wrong headed!
Daily we are bombarded with simple solutions to the most complex of problems. Sadly, some of us actually do think that there are such simple, obvious and clear answers. Indeed, we don’t even bother to think about why, or at whose behest we are being sent the simple solutions that fit with our preconceived prejudices.
We don’t know the solutions the vast majority of the time because we don’t have all the information required to make clear headed judgements on hugely complex matters of public policy. On that basis isn’t it nice when some media outlet or politician after power saves us the bother of thinking it all through.
Democracy only works well if the vast majority of the electorate has a reasoned understanding as to the consequences of their votes. Democracy does not work at all well when those in power or who seek to be in power, together with a media on their payroll, seek to convince us of simple, obvious and clear solutions. Such solutions will invariably be wrong, misleading or down right dangerous.
The solution? Be informed, question any information you get from the media and popularist politicians. Better still stop taking the ‘advice’ of biased media outlets.
With Thanks to Bob for reminding me of Mencken’s quote.
The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above
Quote from the Echo article – ‘More people are struggling to pay their debts in Bootle than anywhere else in the north west.
New research reveals the scale of the debt crisis facing the town, which has the fifth highest levels of insolvency in Britain’.
Debt must be up there with poor health (indeed it is a significant cause of ill health) as being a blight on the lives of people. Many politicians have tried to fix the position of the poor, because debt and poverty go hand in hand, but still our society has a significant proportion of it where poverty is an everyday thing.
Our welfare system designed by William Beveridge (and tinkered with by government after government) forms the basis of the safety net to assist those with little yet problems of poverty still persist. Maybe it’s time for a new war on poverty as it will always fuel debt.
Here’s what Beveridge was trying to do, all be it in the first half of the last century:-
Surely poverty is the greatest social challenge to the UK yet no prominent politician has obviously led a campaign to address it in recent times. Indeed, it was not so long ago that senior politicians in the Labour Party were all but falling in behind the Tories in attacking the poor in an attempt to gain votes from the middle classes. And of course even some Liberals (what would Beveridge have thought of them?) were sucked into what almost became a shameful mainstream political movement against those on welfare.
The longer that poverty and causes and consequences of it are political no go areas for major party politicians the more the poor will be exploited by UKIP and the the far right for their own purposes. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee all you supposedly progressive politicians, especially those of you who take far too much notice of the rabid right wing press.
My view of the EU referendum has always been that it was a bad idea and so it proved to be as older voters in particular tried to use it to recreate their rose-tinted spectacled view of the 1950’s. It was also a matter that could not be sensibly addressed in one take it or leave it question. If 20 questions on the subject had been asked it still would not have explored all the issues that needed to be exposed and debated.
Of course it was actually always about trying to save the Tory Party from UKIP and its own off the wall right wing extremists whom Cameron thought may defect to them.
That we are now likely to be in an almost permanent Brexit crisis well into the future is all but a given and of course the racist underbelly of the UK (which led to an MP being murdered) is now shamefully more exposed. But enough of my views which will be well known to those that follow this blog.
Just have a read of the the article in the link above because it is a fascinating analysis of referendums in general across the world and how they often deliver the answers to questions that were not even asked.