Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Liberal Vision - as warm and human as a thrown knife?

I read with some interest the latest missive from Liberal Vision, another condemnation of the works, culture and morals of the Liberal Democrats, and find myself asking the question, "If you dislike us, and most of what we stand for, why do you bother?".

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceIn posting after posting, Liberal Vision's contributors criticise our sense of compassion, our internal structures, our leading personalities, with nary a positive word. Is there nothing about the Liberal Democrats that is pleasing to their rather jaundiced eye? That said, I'm not one of those that suggests that, as an appalling group of neo-liberals with no comprehension of, or sympathy for, the underlying values of the Liberal Democrats, they should leave on the first helicopter out - they are within the spectrum of politics that is liberalism.

However, it is dispiriting to see a relentless stream of sarcasm, carping and disapproval, especially from a group whose activities are a lightning rod for those on the left who accuse us of being 'yellow Tories'. It is hard to stand up for a group who behave in such an unlovely manner.

From issuing a report claiming that swathes of Liberal Democrat seats would be lost unless the Party accepted their policy prescription, to promoting an anonymous witch hunt against prominent Party figures, their approach has appeared designed to alienate rather than persuade, to court publicity rather than seek debate. The sustained support of key Liberal Vision activists for the rehabilitation of Lembit Opik rather than someone whose credibility is more widely accepted is another indication of a divorce, or at least a trial separation, from mainstream Liberal Democrat thinking.

That is not to say that mainstream Liberal Democrat thinking is always right - the fiasco of tuition fees is a reminder that the majority view isn't always optimal. But to be so far from the mainstream so often is a lonely place to be and, if it were me, I might begin to wonder whether campaigning from beyond the constraints of a political party might be more inviting than attempting to do so from within.


Rankersbo said...

I think blogger needs a "like" button!

James said...

This. I finally lost all patience with this particular group when they posted a 'maybe global warming is a socialist conspiracy' posting.

Simon McGrath said...

As a matter of interst what sparked this off. I had a look at their website to see what could possibly have annoyed you so much and can't see what justifies it.

Mark Valladares said...

HR Director,

I have to admit that I don't look at their website any more - there were seldom any signs that they were doing anything - valuable or otherwise.

It is the endless negativity of their blog towards a political party that they claim to support that is so trying.

Simon McGrath said...


seems rather odd that you should suddenly post this, out of the blue without looking at their blog. I am not a member and there is some controversial stuff on their but nothing that I can see justifies this.

Mark Littlewood said...

What a very strange blog post.

You say in your opening line that you've "read with some interest teh lastest missive from liberal Vision"...

Yet then say in your comment that you "don't look at their website anymore".

Which is it?

Andy Mayer said...

It is quite difficult to see on what basis you are griping based on any the latest missives Mark. Particularly given you then say you don't read them.

If though your central point is to always to be positive about what bits of the party are doing, or say nothing, this post is something of a paradox.

Mark Valladares said...

HR Director,

Firstly, my apologies for taking so long to get back to you - duty called.

You appear to have missed my point - I read the blog, I don't look at the website. Thanks to the wonders of Lib Dem Blogs, the former comes to me, so to speak.

I hope that I have clarified that point.

Mark Valladares said...


I'm delighted that you've managed to find time in your busy schedule to visit. I've answered your point above.

On the other hand, you appear not to have time to answer the basic question posed. So, instead of engaging in the semantics of blog or website, why don't you address the question of Liberal Vision's relentless negativity? Surely there must be something in the Liberal Democrats which you approve of?

Mark Valladares said...


Likewise, thank you for taking the trouble to comment.

Whilst Mark engages in semantics, you appear to have read a post other than the one you are commenting on. I do read the Liberal Vision blog, as my opening sentence makes clear.

You have also forgotten nothing you learned about politics, clearly, especially the bit about setting up a straw man if the question is an awkward one. I did not, at any point, say that you should either be positive or say nothing, merely that it would be nice if you had something positive to say from time to time, rather than just perpetual criticism. If you weren't claiming to be Liberal Democrats, I wouldn't comment - but you do.

So, I ask you the same questions I have asked Mark - why the relentless negativity and, is there anything in the Liberal Democrats that you approve of?

Andy Mayer said...

A variant of 'when did you stop beating your wife' question making a characterisation that I do not recognise Mark.

The latest NHS post for example congratulates the coalition on "a master-class in repackaging that has silenced or baffled most critics, whilst leaving what were quite modest reforms largely unchanged".

LV previously has praised Tim Farron, with whom we do not always agree politically, and recently supported the Yes to AV and Lords reform campaigns, supported John Hemming in his pubs and clubs campaign, talked up Nick Clegg's radical liberal centre-ground narrative, backed the return of David Laws, talked up Willie Rennie's opportunity to renew the Scottish Liberal Democrats, backed Norman Lamb's bravery... and that's just going back to April. I'm surprised in that regard you are not concerned by our relentless optimism and conformity.

To correct another misconception, LV's contributors have written and broadcast both positive and critical things about Lembit's recent campaign.

Sure there are some strongly worded articles on things with which LV does not agree, but we're always happy to respond to reasonable criticism where you think we've been unfair or are wrong, as I 'm sure are you.

Mark Valladares said...


It is, I suppose, nice that you finally decide to engage with the question posed, even though you can't resist the rather patronising opening statement, which you yourself then prove to be superfluous.

Your NHS post says what you claim it does, but given that you're therefore effectively claiming that Nick is deceiving his own membership, it's hardly supportive of the view of Liberal Democrats, is it?

And, once again, you offer up a straw man. I don't suggest that you are wrong or unfair, merely that the message of Liberal Vision is mostly a negative one - I'll concede that occasionally, pieces are written that aren't wholly negative, but stand by my suggestion that Liberal Vision hardly wears its allegiance to the Liberal Democrats on its sleeve...

Andy Mayer said...

What I'm 'effectively claiming' is that both the SLF motion to conference and changes to the bill amount to very little of substance beyond making the scrutiny and delivery of NHS liberalisation slower and more expensive. Both contain a startling lack of clarity open to interpretation. Neither stop good quality providers competing with failing parts of the NHS.

To welcome competition, but only if it benefits patients for example is to welcome competition. To call for integrated care does not mean only one type provider only that different providers talk to each other. To say there will be no wholesale privatisation of the NHS is empty, no great privatisation was proposed. Nor have these reforms, or the SLF motion, proposed to roll back the extensive private involvement already present in the system.

What Clegg appears to be doing then is implementing the Huhne Commission... cautiously... if anyone voting at conference feels deceived by that, and wanted some kind of Bevanite retrospective instead they should have voted for a different motion.

Simon McGrath said...

Mark , ah OK, i was thinking of the blog when i said website. Still not sure what in particular set off your post.

LV is hardly the only blog to critice Clegg and much of what the party is doing.

Mark Valladares said...

HR Director,

Indeed, there are many blogs critical of Nick Clegg, and how could I object to that? There are also, I accept, many blogs critical of the Party, and life is like that. However, I find myself wondering why, if an individual or group are so consistently critical, they pay a subscription fee to the very organisation they attack with such enthusiasm.

And given that they've been doing this for nearly three years, whilst I admire their persistence, most people would have given up and moved on by now.

Mark Valladares said...


Fascinating, that even when you're trying to be reasonable, you still find it necessary to label those who disagree with you in an unnecessarily patronising way. Bevanite, eh? Yeah, label them as socialist and out of date, why don't you...

The ability to win arguments by building coalitions appears to escape you, and it saddens me that Liberal Vision, a potentially useful expression of economic liberalism within the Party, has marginalised itself by its own hand.

It's taken you three attempts to even come close to engaging with my point, and I've had to prod and poke you along the way. Why doesn't Liberal Vision try debating the ideas, or attempt to understand why the Party works as it does, rather than demonstrating how much more you think you know than the rest of us, some of whom have had to run public services for real?

I don't expect you to agree, but I do like to think that some of you might be more successful if you demonstrated a little empathy.

Andy Mayer said...

Always happy to debate ideas Mark, we've been commenting on the politics and substance of health reform, and strikes this week. Any thoughts?