Saturday, January 05, 2013

White lines and dead armadillos - I'm a liberal, not a centrist...

Apparently, I am in politics to anchor our government in the centre ground. At least, that is what my Party Leader thinks. And sadly, he's wrong. A Texan Democrat once said that the only things you'll find in the middle of the road are white lines and dead armadillos.

No, for me, the whole point of being a liberal is that I want to challenge the things that hold our society back, to enable people to take control over their lives, whilst ensuring that those who are vulnerable are protected and supported. Part of that is about personal responsibility, the idea that people should also have to face the consequences of their actions.

"Anchoring the Coalition in the centre ground" is, in those terms, pretty meaningless, even if it does reassure some voters. Perhaps that is why I'm a bureaucrat and not a politician. I suppose that politics is about a cause, be that a big, grand one like world peace, or equality, or a small, more personal one, such as representing your community and trying to do your best by, and for, it.

Yes, one does have to be pragmatic about it. Politics is about the art of the possible, and you are confined by budgets, or existing legislation, but with some things, such as equal marriage, you can do them because, fundamentally, they're the right thing to do. You should also try to bring the public with you, because change is more likely to last if it is broadly accepted.

But our politics is tainted already by a sense that the three main political parties are squabbling over some mystical middle England - which always seems to be somewhere else - leaving a vacuum to be filled by UKIP, the Greens or some bunch of racist lunatics.

So, instead of coming up with a slogan, why can't we just explain what we stand for and why, and leave the race to the bottom for the rest. As all the evidence is that they're better at it than we are anyway, I can't help feeling that it isn't the game we ought to be playing.


Bill Chapman said...

You write that "the three main political parties are squabbling over some mystical middle England ...". Which are these parties? Con, Lab and, surely not the LibDems, who have settled comfortably into fourth or fifth place. You'll know that UKIP is firmly in third place at present, and I don't see that changing over the next few years.

The LibDems are tainted by the current omnishambles, I'm afraid.

Oranjepan said...

Umm, I think you may be guilty of confusing two different things.

The centre is yesterday's balancing point, so while you do want to be in the centre if you're not already you want to bring it toward you (rather than move toward it).

I agree this creates confusion when different parties appropriate the same language, which is why 'anchor' is such a misleading term and one we should reject at every opportunity.

LibDems need to raise the anchor off the sea floor, so we can set sail for the land of liberty!

Mark Valladares said...


Until you've won some Parliamentary seats somewhere where it matters - and for most of the public, that isn't the European one - you're not a main party. I'll grant you that UKIP should be taken seriously - a Conservative district councillor here in Mid Suffolk just defected to them - but given that UKIP's policies on virtually anything other than Europe haven't had much airtime or, perhaps more important, scrutiny, I wouldn't describe them as 'main' yet.


I can't say that I entirely agree. Is the centre where political parties say it is, or where the voters think they are? I fear that they are two irreconcilable, yet nebulous places, not fit for a political party which believes in anything other than being a better manager.

But you're right, we'd be better off sailing in the direction of a more liberal society, with freedom and dignity for all, and where liberty, equality and community are balanced.