Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why I will never accept that Liberal Conspiracy are anything other than magpies......

I do find Liberal Conspiracy to be so tiresome. It is liberal, in the sense that Americans think of as liberal, and even they use the word 'progressive' these days.

The claiming of the word liberal is something that flashes warning signs in my eyes. Some of us have marched under that banner for a quarter-century or more, the inheritors of a tradition that was almost snuffed out in the immediate postwar years. I have the huge privilege of having known people who fought hopeless election campaigns through the 1950's and who, were they around now, would have been in Parliament, people like Penelope Jessel (read the obituary and weep). It would have been easier had they joined Labour or the Conservatives, but they stuck to their guns.

And whilst we might argue amongst ourselves about what liberalism is, and where it might go in the years ahead, we tend not to lose sight of the fact that we are all proud of the word 'liberal'.

When Sunny Hundal whisks the name off in an attempt to rally the left behind some less scary banner, but actively excludes most of us in the process, including those who I would freely admit are more radical than I am (look, I'm a bureaucrat for pity's sake), I feel that I have every right to protest and point out the evident contradictions. So, this evening, I have done. I've called Sunny out on his claim to inclusiveness and pluralism because I'm convinced that it is merely show. He has taken a word, a concept, a dream if you like but certainly a torch, and used it as a figleaf for something that claims to represent me but doesn't.

And of course, in doing so, some of his friends go on to demonstrate exactly why we don't feel welcome, and why this liberal won't be coming back...


Neil said...

Mark, I'm genuinely sorry that you don't feel welcome there, and I would restate that LibCon is poorer for not having more LibDem contributors.

The problem I have is that I see most of the criticism of the site as revolving around the name. Quite apart from the fact that this gets pretty bloody tiring after a couple of years, it remains a charge I don't recognise.

LibCon has featured strong writing against ID cards, 42 day detention, restrictions on a woman's right to choose, the DWPs punitive & statist welfare reforms, the erosion of civil liberties, an awful asylum/immigration system, a broken & illiberal criminal justice system, the prohibitive policies on alcohol & tobacco, social conservatism and the war on drugs.

I have never read a single Lib Dem critic even admit that the site has taken liberal positions on any of these issues, nevermind try to argue why, despite a strong track-record of liberal advocacy, the site's still not worthy of the name 'liberal'.

For that reason, our differences may well be irreconcilable & it may well be better for everyone if we just kept our distance from each other. As a wise man once said:

"You ain't feelin' me? Fine
It costs you nothin'; pay me no mind."

Well, okay, it wasn't a wise man, it was Jay-Z. But he had a point.

Left Lib said...

I don't see anything wrong with them, except for the obvious point that they are relying too much on the Labour party.
Even so, the brutal reality is that we are a long way off from forming a government by ourselves. In my opinion there is a section of the Labour party, of which Robin Cook was a leading light, that believes in civil liberties, an ethical foreign policy and decentralising power. A left liberal government for some of us is the best option of all. For that to be possible we do not want the Labour party to be beholden to the whims of Rupert Murdoch as New Labour has been. We want a new Robin Cook to emerge - maybe John Cruddas?
Otherwise we are saddled with authoritarian governments for the forseeable future. That is not something LC stands for at least.

Mark Valladares said...


Thank you for that. I was initially suspicious about the name, not just because I'm a liberal, but because it appeared to be applying an American definition of 'liberal' that I don't think works in this country. As a active member of Americans for Democratic Action in the past, I am fortunate in having been able to compare the two.

The name wouldn't be a problem if I thought that LC offered a space for LibDems to participate freely. And yes, a number of the contributors operate in the way that I had hoped would emerge, floating ideas, encouraging an exchange of views. Unfortunately, I don't think that Sunny wants that.

As it's his show, they're his rules. The problem is, if I, and other LibDems like me, don't like those rules, and don't play, when Sunny invokes our input in aid of some concept of broad-based involvement, I'm forced to call him on it. And you will note that he hasn't responded to my query about the number of LibDems posting content on LC.

I don't expect him to tell me who he has talked to in the LibDems. I'm merely making the point that, as someone who is pretty well-connected in Lib Dem circles, I am aware that a number of our most eminent bloggers have noted a lack of contact from Sunny. That would lead me to suspect that he isn't being sincere. Last night's outburst only supported such suspicions.