miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Yesterday, Chris Williamson MP tweeted:
Lib Dem membership in freefall. I'd urge all Lib Dems who want progressive social change to back #Labour
Now, I know that some of you reading this have left the Lib Dems. At least one of those has joined the Greens, and several have joined the Pirates. Maybe some of you have joined Labour, and you know what? I'm a Liberal, and I am happy to see the exercising of personal choice even if it's not a decision I would make myself. But the idea that Liberals should leave the Lib Dems en masse and join Labour just because a Labour MP says so? THAT got my back up. So I replied. Possibly slightly less than respectfully:
AHAHAHAHAHAHAA the day authoritarian #Labour are the agents for real social change is the day Satan skates to work
Now, to give him his due, he didn't just ignore me. Unfortunately, some of the examples he replied with are.... well, shall we say "suspect"
But Labour introduced NHS, welfare state, equal pay, race & gender equality acts, min wage, civil partnerships, legalised abortion
So, I'm not the political historian that [personal profile] matgb is, but even I know that David Steel introduced the Abortion Act, and it was a free vote issue, and lots of Labour politicians opposed it. To try and claim that as a Labour measure just because Labour were in power when it was passed is disingenuous to say the least. And I know for a fact that they introduced civil partnerships because they were too cowardly to introduce equal marriage, which Lib Dems in government are doing RIGHT NOW! (Hi Lynne! *waves*) This makes me suspect that some of his other examples might not be as clear-cut as he is presenting them either, although I suppose I can give him minimum wage. So I go to reply to him to say that "just because something happened when Labour was in government doesn't mean it was instigated by or supported by Labour" and notice that he's also having a twitter conversation with Douglas... In reply to
What about those of us who value civil liberties, constitutional reform & not pandering to the media?
he says
Your point is? Remember Labour introduced biggest constitutional reforms, FOI Act & it was Ed Miliband who took on Murdoch.
So, chickening out of proper Lords reform (which, again, Lib Dems are doing in government), backing away from electoral reform when you got a big enough majority to snub Paddy, and opposing AV and boundary changes mean Liberals should trust you on constitutional reform, does it, Chris? And Ed Miliband is better than, ooo, say... VINCE CABLE on Murdoch?

So, my question to you, loyal reader, is this: is this man misinformed, deluded, or simply lying? And why does he think that spouting untruths directly at Lib Dems will get them to join his party? I mean, if you are a person who thinks the Lib Dems lied on tuition fees (which I can understand, even if I don't entirely share that view) or is dismantling the NHS (which, again, I can understand, even if I think what we're doing is preventing the tories from doing so) then WHY IN CTHULHU'S NAME would being barefaced lied to by a Labour MP entice you to join Labour? I know we have a reputation as masochists in the Lib Dems, but surely we're not all that masochistic?

My advice to you, if you're a Lib Dem leaver who still wants to remain politically active? If you're technologically inclined, join the Pirates, because they love freedom as much as we do, and they're a rising star. If I were ever to leave, that's where I'd go. If you're less technologically inclined, join the Greens and try to change some of their more ridiculous anti-science policies. And say hi to Liz. And if neither of those appeals, then join a single issue group. Perhaps the electoral reform society. But for pity's sake, don't join Labour. They'll betray you like they've betrayed everybody else since about 1998. They lie about how we got in the mess we're in now, they lie about what they did in power, and they won't even tell us what they're going to do if they get back in. If you want the definition of an untrustworthy politician, I'd say look for one in a red rosette.

Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012 11:48 am (UTC)
softfruit: (Default)
From: [personal profile] softfruit
Is it panto season already? Williamson's list of Labour achievements seems designed to raise a chorus of OH NO YOU DIDNT!

Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Yeah, claiming credit for legalised abortion is more than a bit rich given it was Steel with Jenkins assist, and given how much Blair tried to stop civil partnerships only to back down after Livingstone forced them in in London as an Ind. FFS, some Labour types think that only they're capable of doing good.

The NHS was a Liberal Idea

Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012 12:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spinelessliberal.wordpress.com
Excellent post! Frankly, I think we LibDems need to start being a bit tribal...

I fear that a lot of people who may defect to Labour or even the Greens fail to understand that they are not fundamentally liberal. When Blair's majorities were high enough to overwhelm any opposition, they could easily have forced through elected Lords, equal marriage, and a host of other liberal measures. Instead, they used it to try and bring in 90-day detention. Lovely.

I did admire the Greens but I've recently realised just how anti-science they are. Also, in conversations with some of them, many seem to be plain-old Marxists - they are FAR too much like Labourites for the Environment for my liking. I do agree though, if I were to leave the LDs myself, I'd probably go off to the Pirates - they seem the only liberal party left apart from ourselves, and I agree with much of their platform, even though I'm not very technologically inclined myself.

I'd want to talk to someone from the LDHistory Group at Glasgow, but I'm also pretty sure it wasn't exactly Labour who brought in the NHS. Lloyd George brought in the National Insurance Act in 1911, a huge step at the time, and by the 1930s, everyone agreed we needed a step further. Unfortunately, a little thing called WWII got in the way. After that, I'm unsure why people assume only an Attlee-led govt. would have brought in the NHS, and not a Churchill-led one. I also have no idea why anyone thinks it was originally a Labour idea, the Beveridge Report advised on the foundation of the Welfare state and Beveridge was... *drumroll* a LIBERAL! (Also, MP for Alan Beith's seat. Lost in in '45, before becoming leader of the Liberals in the Lords) So, Labour link to the NHS is at best 'they were the party who were *able* to do it because Churchill won the war'.

I've had to do a bit of research on this for the comment on wikipedia and this section is very interesting...

While the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party quickly adopted Beveridge's proposals, the Labour Party was slow to follow. Labour leaders opposed Beveridge's idea of a National Health Service run through local health centres and regional hospital administrations, preferring a state-run body.[7] Beveridge complained about the opposition of Labour leaders, including that of Ernest Bevin: "For Ernest Bevin, with his trade-union background of unskilled workers... social insurance was less important than bargaining about wages." Bevin derided the Beveridge Report as a "Social Ambulance Scheme" and followed the Coalition Government's view that it should not be implemented until the end of the war (he was furious in February 1943 when a large number of Labour back-benchers ignored their leaders and voted against delay in implementing Beveridge).


Re: The NHS was a Liberal Idea

Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012 05:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spinelessliberal.wordpress.com
Get on with it! ;-)

I'd double-check me with someone who knows the history, but as far as I can tell, Labour had little to do with it. At least, not nearly as much as the mythology they've generated about the NHS would have us believe...

Re: The NHS was a Liberal Idea

Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] gwenhwyfaer
"Excellent post! Frankly, I think we LibDems need to start being a bit tribal..."

Um, I'm not sure that's going to fly as a selling point. It might make existing Lib Dems feel better, but it won't attract very many people back to the fold - as the only example I have to hand, it'd turn me right off.

Besides, "Other parties suck so hard. We should be more like them!" is probably not the most internally consistent argument ever...

Re: The NHS was a Liberal Idea

Date: Thursday, June 14th, 2012 12:24 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Read "Never Again".

No one had actually proposed nationalising the hospitals to Nye Bevan. As far as can be determined, he came up with the idea. We owe the NHS (as it exists now...or at least existed before the wrecking bill the Tories forced through, which the LibDems largely went along with) to Labour.


Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
Frankly, Labour would come only marginally ahead of Racist UKIP and the Bastard Nazi Party in my list of parties to defect to.

I suspect Williamson is simply deluded. Pretty much every Labour partisan I know (as opposed to a small number of people who happen to be members of the Labour party) has a Manichean world-view. The Tories are, by definition, baddies, so Labour must be the goodies. (Apologies to the Apostle Mani for associating his followers with the Labour Party. And anyone who knows anything of the historical links between Manicheanism and Satanism also knows how easily such a dualistic world-view can turn to actively supporting evil).

As for the Pirates... they or the Greens would be my second choice on an AV ballot, but the problem is that they're a single-issue party. Loz, their leader, is a good liberal -- he's sound on every issue that matters -- but they don't have a party platform on anything except digital civil rights issues. Which are important issues, but it does mean that you don't know what you're voting for...


Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
ext_392011: (Default)
From: [identity profile] rankersbo.wordpress.com
The Pirates here (Saarland, Germany) are seen as a party of the young. We had a regional parliament election here and they went from nowhere to 4 seats, while the FDP SaarLiberale who had been in coalition with the CDU (Merkel's party) and the Greens lost all 5 of their seats.

Don't know if you picked up on my blog posts about this, but during the election, though, none of their posters were about IP type policies, it was all pretty much in-yer-face liberal. So in Germany they have moved on from being single issue to being somewhere some ex-Lib Dems might feel at home.

Was Labour responsible for the victory at Stamford Bridge?

Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
daweaver:   (redlightdoor)
From: [personal profile] daweaver
The quotes were that Labour can claim the credit for...

* The NHS. This has been dissected in a previous comment. The myth that the NHS was a Labour idea has taken root, and is clear in the party's rhetoric about how only they can "save" the NHS. That's for values of "save" roughly equal to "preserving in aspic".

* Welfare state. That was Lloyd George and the massive constitutional row of 1909-11. It's true that the various Labour MPs tended to vote with the Liberals at the time; it's also true that party lines were significantly more fluid than they are today, and that most of the intellectual ground had been prepared by Liberals.

* Equal pay, race and gender sex equality acts. I'll grant Labour the 1970 Equal Pay Act, and at a pinch the Race Relations Act. But not the Equal Opportunities Commission and Sex Discrimination Act: that was timetabled by the Conservative administration for 1974 had there not been an election.

* Civil partnerships are already under review, less than seven years after coming into existence. That suggests the original legislation was ill-considered and inadequate.

* Biggest constitutional reforms. Really? Labour is claiming credit for the universal franchise (1928, Conservative), limitation of the powers of the Lords (1911, Liberal), introduction of the secret ballot (1872, Liberal), reform of the Commons (1832, Whig), replacement of James II with William of Orange (1688, Paisleyite), and creation of the Church of England (1534, Henry VIII-ite)? Four of these predate the Labour Representation Committee, for goodness' sake. May we borrow your time machine?

We're asked to consider "is this man misinformed, deluded, or simply lying?"

Let me go back to the original suggestion, that Labour is associated with "progressive social change". Like the claim that Labour invented the NHS, this is a Helpful Myth, a story that the Labour party tells about itself, to help make some sort of internal sense of its own muddled thinking. Similar Helpful Myths exist for all other parties, of course, and often with as distant a relationship to the objective facts. The evidence suggests that Labour's commitment to social change is always tactical and opportunistic. And whatever "progressive" means, Labour doesn't always go down that road: in order to govern, it needs to keep the City and the working-class conservatives onside, thus limiting its room for manoeuvre.

My experience is similar to a commentator above, in that Labour acolytes believe there is an active and wide-ranging conspiracy against them. If one dares question the party's orthodoxy, by pointing out evidence to the contrary, or by questionning the conclusions or premises, then one is instantly deemed a thought criminal and ostracised until one recants. They simply cannot get their minds around the fact that other people might consider the same evidence, add in their own experiences and prejudices, and reach a very different conclusion.

I thank the original poster for the sagacious closing paragraph, as it is more than likely that I will need it in the coming weeks.

an ex-lib dem replies.

Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 08:51 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

I'm not at all convinced by the labour shouting to join them, I suspect they would be little different from the coalition, certainly less liberal and with some class war rhetoric, but largely similar.

That's why I have not renewed my membership, I wanted something different from the usual half-hearted bodging of legislation and economy.. that hasn't come..

Sorry to go on a bit, hope its useful to know how some of us feel. Keep up the good work .. I know there are a lot of good people in the libdems (its just a shame the leadership and parliamentary party are mostly dysfunctional) @hashbangperl

Failing to use the parliamentary numbers when for the first time the lib dems were able to actually vote down instead of amend bad legislation (the nhs bill) was the point I realised that I wouldn't be rejoining the party for the foreseeable future as the parliamentary party simply rides roughshod over the will of the membership. There is no point in having all the
internal democracy and expert working groups if the party leaders continue to ignore them if they don't give the answers they want.

I haven't joined another party, and won't be likely to any time soon, the recent party leadership/MP behaviour has put me off party politics completely. I think my time and money are far better spent in single issue groups where we might make a difference instead of being a party member where motions can be passed and policies decided democraticly but often have no effect at all on what happens in parliament.

I think the NHS bill was a turning point for a lot of people,the party could have proved that its policies and legislation were evidence based and that internal democracy worked, but instead they indulged in the usual Westminster spin and skuldulggery to get bad legislation through by hook or by crook : Nick and lynnes abysmal handling of the snooping bill was just the icing on the cake

And another thing

Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 10:57 am (UTC)
ext_368239: (Default)
From: [identity profile] millenniumelephant.blogspot.com
I notice that at least he didn't make the usual Labour claims on LGBT rights of equalising the age of consent and allowing gay people to serve in the military - both of these did happen under Labour, it is true, but they happened because the European Court of Human rights found against the British (Labour) Government and ordered that they happen.

Labour had spent literally millions of pounds of British taxpayers money to fight for the right to keep an unequal age of consent and keep the gays out of the armed forces (or at least in the closet) when they could have dropped both cases in 1997.

Any claim that Labour is a "progressive" party makes my skin crawl.

Date: Sunday, June 10th, 2012 06:46 am (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
If you're less technologically inclined, join the Greens and try to change some of their more ridiculous anti-science policies. And say hi to Liz.

*waves, rather belatedly*

We do have people working on more improvements to the science policies already, but more are always welcome :-)

Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 09:36 am (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
Thanks - the holiday did me a world of good, so I'm feeling better than I have in a while :-)

Date: Monday, June 11th, 2012 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I have been a Branch Representative on my Local Party Executive, a Federal Conference Representative and a Council Candidate for the Liberal Democrat Party. I may remain unconvinced that we should be paying more for European infrastructure during a period of economic austerity, I never supported the Economic and Monetary Union, but I remain convinced that the Liberal Party has hit the nail on the head more often than the Labour Party as regards domestic policy including on the issues identified here. For further information: http://bennewmanwright.blogspot.co.uk

Date: Thursday, June 14th, 2012 12:27 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"but even I know that David Steel introduced the Abortion Act, and it was a free vote issue, and lots of Labour politicians opposed it. To try and claim that as a Labour measure just because Labour were in power when it was passed is disingenuous to say the least."

You aren't going to get a member's bill through parliament unless the ruling party wants you to. There are all sorts of scheduling mechanisms they can use to kill it. Labour were OK with the abortion bill going through, and they gave it enough time to pass.

I imagine Labour MPs were divided over the matter due to the heavy presence of Catholics in their social base (in Liverpool especially). Some areas of the country had lots of Catholic immigration, and those areas tended to be more working class. As such there's a lot more Catholic/Irish heritage support for Labour than is widely realised. (I might be mistaken as to how this relates to the specific case, though.)


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