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As is my wont on a Saturday morning, I am listening to The Week in Westminster. One of the items they have had on it was about rumblings of discontent in the party that we are not having enough influence on the coalition. Stephen Gilbert, of the whip's office, tried to counter this by listing policies which we have had influence on which are currently being enacted... and the first one he came up with was also a Tory policy.


The thing about being a Lib Dem is that you have to fight tooth and nail for every vote, and the thing about fighting tooth and nail for every vote is that you know the manifestos of your oppponents as well as you know your own. HOW DARE YOU try to hoodwink us? How dare you try to spin doctor those of us who campaigned like hell to get YOU elected?

Sandra Gidley was right, you cannot ignore the rumblings of discontent from within the party, or dismiss it by telling us we are not being grown up. I was one of those who voted enthusiastically for the coalition, I am fully aware that coalition involves compromise, but compromise, to my mind, does NOT involve pretending to be ecstatically happy about a desperate fudge that nobody actually wants (AV), and nor does it involve being an uncritical fawning abused partner in a marriage with very unequal power footings. I've seen where that leads, thank you, and I'm not going to participate enthusiastically in the macro version.

If you keep trying to dismiss and ignore the feelings of the grassroots of the party, you are going to reap a whirlwind in Liverpool, you smug, arrogant, dismissive tosser. And that's a long time before we get wiped out at the next election, which it's looking more and more like we will...

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Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2010 12:08 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
well said,I do wish dissent wasn't treated like some sort of teenage rebellion.Listen to us, take us seriously and we will get on with the job of doing our best to sell the coalition.Right now I'm totally disillusioned and we haven't even started seeing the effects of the deficit reduction.Things need to get better, quickly.

Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC)
bagfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bagfish
I too heard this and started shouting at the radio. What an utter fuckwit who is showing a complete loss of any contact with the reality of the party members and the activists at the grassroots who are horribly uncomfortable with what is happening.

On the other had I thought Sandra's comments were extremely good, especially the one about how we need to learn from our experience in local government, i.e. don't forget about the grassroots campaigners just because we now have some power.

My one ray of hope this weekend was Tim F's comments picked up by the BBC where he actually comes out and expresses some concern with the coalition.


Lib Dem Parliamentariens

Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Tony Greaves said it all on BBC yesterday and he has the bottle to put his name to his criticisms. Clegg is being eaten up and spat out by the Tories and he doesn't have the political nouse to see it coming! Those of us who spent over 40 years working for Liberalism object to Clegg throwing it all away to get his backside in a Ministerial car!

Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
staceyuk: Funny Sherlock icon (Default)
From: [personal profile] staceyuk
Right now with the Coalition's stance on disability benefits I feel very let down. My DLA money is a lifeline. Without it, I definitely would not have a car and be housebound.

I feel I am being punished for the minority that do abuse it, and for the state of the economy. I wish it was easy for me to get a job and support myself but it isn't.

I keep telling myself not to worry about it but it's there in the back of my mind...

I was awarded DLA at the higher rate for life for a reason. Mum has to do most things for me. I could never live alone and I need someone around 24/7.

I seem quite capable sitting in my chair. Things start to fall apart when I have to move. *big sigh*

Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2010 02:33 pm (UTC)
burkesworks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] burkesworks
I'm waiting for the glorious day when the party splits into market-liberal and social-liberal factions, as has happened in the Netherlands. I would give my eye teeth to join a party along the same lines as that country's D66, possibly with Charles Kennedy at the helm, and I dare say there are many LibDems who would cheerfully join me on board.

Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
I don't think market-liberal vs social-liberal is necessarily the split we want to see - Mat is more 'market-liberal' for example, but definitely on the 'left'. I want a three-way split, "Liberal Tories", "Liberal Social Democrats" and "Chomsky-type Anarcho-syndicalist sorts". I'd probably join the third, going for the second only if the third in turn splintered into a million pieces.

And of course even AV gives far more chance of that pluralist type of politics happening, which is why I'm more enthusiastic about it than Jennie, even though we *need* to keep pushing for STV if/when we get it...

Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scarier.wordpress.com
I'll be with you in the third party, Andrew. Although if we split three ways, that would leave none of the resulting parties in an especially good position to do anything...

Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
If we get a *decent* voting system (or even a half-decent one like AV) we can expect to see all the parties splinter. I would expect that within two elections we'd see something like:
The Right-Wing Headbanging Loony Party (most backbench Tories plus UKIP and some BNPers)
The Liberal Tories (the CameronandClegg party, effectively)
The Libertarians
The Liberal Social Democrats (incorporating most of the activists from the Lib Dems, a handful of the better Labour people like Diane Abbot, and the saner Greens)
The Chomskyites (incorporating another chunk of the Lib Dems and maybe some odd people from some of the Greens, hard left parties, Pirates and so on, the odd buggers, basically)
The Nats
The Hard Left (insane Greens, SWP and fellow travellers)
New Labour wouldn't exist at all, as I don't think there's actually a support base for slightly-right-of-centre economics/incredibly socially authoritarianism.

We could expect at any time to have a coalition consisting of four of those parties in government. My favoured choice would be Chomskyite & Lib Soc Dem working with any other two except right-wing headbangers.

That's what I *think* will happen, anyway.

Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Ah, I didn't realise we were playing "Predict The Lay of the Land When The Dust Settles Following A Move To PR". That's one of my favourite speculative games!

In which case, yes, I mostly agree with you, although my general idea of what would happen seems less splintered than yours. I completely agree about the non-existence of a support base for the "New Labour" tendency. I guess my inclination is to try to work from existing parties, since that's what we'd start with, even if they inevitable fell apart shortly afterwards.

My own thoughts run something like this:

Tories see mass defections to UKIP, who turn into a more general purpose swivel-eyed loony right party, as you suggest.
The remaining Tory party is a sort of centre-right, socially liberal, market-driven entity, probably sufficiently zealous in its economic liberalism to attract most Libertarians now the authoritarian wing of the party has gone away.
The Labour party falls apart into Old Labour and New Labour.
The Lib Dems split, with some going off to the remaining Tory party. The rest reform the SDP.
New Labour quickly withers and dies. Some of them join the SDP, some join the remaining Tories.
The Greens still exist, and not much changes with them, but they lose some of their less environmentally motivated members to other parties.
Similar with the Nats.
The BNP continues, almost identical to what it is today.

Where I part company with your list, therefore, is in the existence of separate Libertarian and Chomskyite parties; not because they don't deserve to exist, but because I don't see there being sufficient momentum for those things to come out the other end of the upheaval that our politics would have to go through - I don't see who the natural leaders that they coalesce around are.

My suspicion is therefore that we'd have:

Liberal Tories
Old Labour

With pretty natural left and right governing blocs fairly easy to see from that list.

I hope we get to see who's right one day, and I hope I'm wrong, cuz your version would be much more interesting.

Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scarier.wordpress.com
Oops, that was me above.

Date: Sunday, July 25th, 2010 08:46 am (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
I hope we don't split at all. I'm way out on the left of the party according to all the compass-type tests, but I've yet to meet any member with whom I don't have enough common ground to share a party.

Date: Sunday, July 25th, 2010 10:42 am (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
Oh, I'm the same - I can happily share a party with every Lib Dem I know - but I think the natural size of parties should be a lot smaller than they are now, and work together after election. I'd imagine that if the Lib Dems did split in a post-PR situation, all the constituent parts would work together in a near-permanent voting bloc, but it would allow people to vote for a 'social liberal' or 'economic liberal' or whatever more accurately than they can now...

Date: Sunday, July 25th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
the party splits into market-liberal and social-liberal factions

But where would that leave those of us that are both?

SRSLY, I really dislike that analysis, I'm a liberal. The whole "market liberal" thing annoys me, liberalism is about competetive markets, it's the only way to drive profits down, break up the monopolists and hurt the capitalists.

Got to remove the barriers to entry, that's the biggest problem.

The real split should be mutualists vs capitalists, there's space for both within liberalism, if we're talking economic liberalism. If you're not a political or social liberal (with social meaning 'personal life' not social democracy) then you should be in the party in the first place. I can handle "not as liberal as me" on that stuff (like Vince), but...

Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scarier.wordpress.com
IAWTP. I too was listening to the discussion on the radio this morning, and was pretty appalled by Stephen Gilbert.

I was resigned to the idea that people would accuse the party of selling out for nothing in return, that there would always be bitching from the Labour left and their craven support base; it's the seriously weak counter-arguments currently being put out by our own partisans that worry me. If Stephen Gilbert listing some of the policies we shared with the Tories *before* the coalition is the best they can do, we should all pack up and go home now. Sandra Gidley was eminently sensible this morning, and Gilbert sounded like every Labour-bot who ever tried to defend the last government. I hope that someone in the parliamentary party gives him a good slap on behalf of the grassroots who had the misfortune to be listening to him this morning.

Date: Sunday, July 25th, 2010 08:44 am (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
I think what's happening is that a lot of our parliamentarians are answering any question about what the coalition is achieving by reciting the set "Lib Dem policies that can be implemented in this government that wouldn't have been implemented under Labour", which contains some policies on which the Tories agreed with us before the election as well as some on which they didn't - whereas what a lot of activists want to hear is the smaller sub-set "Lib Dem policies that can be implemented in this government that wouldn't have been implemented under the Tories alone". Personally, as long as we maximise the first set I don't care too much how many of those policies are also in the smaller set - if we can undo a lot of Labour's damage, I want to be part of that regardless of whether the Tories would have done it anyway.

And yes, we're going to get wiped out at the next election, but I knew that going into the coalition. I think it was inevitable whether we went in or not, because if we did then Labour-leaning floating voters were going to desert us and if we didn't, then Tory-leaning ones were (and conversely if a rainbow coalition had seriously been on the table). Floating voters who thought we were radically different from the other parties were also inevitably going to drift away, because if we went into coalition they were always going to punish us for looking too ordinary, which I think is unavoidable when the day-to-day reality of Government hits, and if we didn't go in they were going to punish us for not taking the once-in-a-generation opportunity that they felt they'd handed us.

Date: Sunday, July 25th, 2010 10:50 am (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
I think your analysis is pretty spot-on. Actually, what *I'm* most interested in isn't which of our policies we're getting implemented (though I'm happy that it's a reasonable amount, even if you don't count the Tory overlap), but which Tory policies *aren't* getting implemented. As far as I'm concerned, the primary reason for getting into the coalition isn't so much to make this government be a positive good - because I don't think we're going to - but just to stop it being quite so bad.

I'd far rather hear "We stopped the Tory headbanger wing doing X, Y and Z from their manifesto, oh and we also got AV" than "AV!!! YAY!!!! Haven't we done well?!"

Date: Monday, July 26th, 2010 12:54 pm (UTC)
pmoodie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pmoodie
Well said. Keep rumbling away, and do not let yousrelves be swept under the carpet.

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