pseudomonas: (libdem)
[personal profile] pseudomonas
Everyone else, as Andy Hinton says, is doing a Where Do We Go From Here post, and there's something that I need to get off my chest, so here's mine.

[personal profile] miss_s_b points out that (among many other things that the leadership got hideously wrong during coalition) the policy of applying to be the Rizla you can't slip between the Labservative parties is a horrible one. I think this is for three reasons:

■ Pragmatically, the Hotelling Model predicts that there's absolutely no votes in being stuck between two parties playing that game.

■ Politically, it's stupid to define yourself in terms of other people's policies. What's the point in looking like some kind of me-too triangulator?

■ But most of all, ideologically, that's not where we belong. I've seen a few people say "we're not left-wing, we're not right-wing, we're not centrist, we're Liberals", appealing to the two-axis model, and suggesting that the liberal-authoritarian axis is the only one where we need to take a position. While I acknowledge that the left-right axis isn't a perfect model and certainly isn't the only axis that matters, I think this is a mistake.

Among our statement of principles is: "The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity".

How left-wing should we be? As left-wing as we need to be to make no-one enslaved by poverty.

I don't think the answer is a socialist "as left-wing as we can possibly be", but a pragmatic "enough to achieve this goal", (which surely is much more redistributive than we are now1). I think that we should see taxation and state intervention as very necessary evils to address the bigger evils of poverty and inequality. All things being equal we should not have the state intervening; but all things are not equal.

If the Labour Party is to the left of us, fine. And if the Labour Party is to the right of us, fine. Neither of those should let us be deterred from taking a pragmatic attitude, that enslavement-by-poverty is something that we can and should eradicate2, and the right policies are those that will get us there.



1 If you think that currently there's not significant levels of poverty, or that the solution is to starve the poor harder until they're more motivated to work harder, please just go away. If you have a convincing argument that there are other measures that government can take that will have a similar effect on relieving poverty, then yes, that's something to consider subject to evidence.

2 I know there's going to be argument as to which definition of poverty to consider; I'm prepared to have that argument at some later point; it surely needs to be had. Also I know that there's more to left-right than just redistribution-to-relieve-poverty — but I trust you will forgive me for not tackling all of politics while standing on one leg.

PS: If you're not currently a member, but feel that you would like to play a part in helping ensure that the party takes a position that you approve of, joining before the end of May will enable you to vote on the next leader, as well as help make party policy through its internal democracy: http://www.libdems.org.uk/join

Date: 2015-05-10 07:49 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Exactly. I keep also seeing people (like Merel Ece and prominent SLFers) banging on about how we need to position ourselves as a "party of the centre-left".

No. We're a party of the Liberal Left, always have been. Given the media and many idiots like to put every issue on a 2-way axis, fine, we can point out how horribly right wing Labour are on far too many issues, even if we do know they're actually authoritarian puritanical busy bodies.

Date: 2015-05-11 10:33 am (UTC)
hollymath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
Yes, this!

Date: 2015-05-23 01:32 am (UTC)
po8crg: A cartoon of me, wearing a panama hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] po8crg
Yes, this. Also can we please have a proper left-wing party? I've met so many people who really really want to vote for one and I believe that democracy is supposed to represent people.

Date: 2015-05-10 08:12 pm (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
I think we've had enough "positioning" nonsense for some time. The "centre-left" is a imaginary product of the stories told by other parties. Let's talk about our values and some concrete policies that from them flow.

Date: 2015-05-10 09:31 pm (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
Yes. The obsession with the 'centre' in recent years was a dramatic change in the narrative which had shaped the party, and should be dropped.

Date: 2015-05-10 08:12 pm (UTC)
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
From: [personal profile] hilarita
Have you been reading http://www.socialliberal.net/david_howarth_thoughts_on_the_way_forward ? Because he's saying something quite similar in places. It's making me consider joining.

Date: 2015-05-11 05:28 pm (UTC)
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
From: [personal profile] hilarita
Membership of the Lib Dems increased by 1 stoat.

Date: 2015-05-11 05:50 pm (UTC)
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
From: [personal profile] hilarita
I hope that the party's MPs follow the policies decided on by the party members. That would be nice.

Date: 2015-05-23 01:33 am (UTC)
po8crg: A cartoon of me, wearing a panama hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] po8crg
I want to write a constitutional amendment on whipping, but I have brain weasels at the moment.

Date: 2015-05-13 01:51 pm (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Oh hurrah!

Date: 2015-05-10 09:15 pm (UTC)
sunflowerinrain: Singing at the National Railway Museum (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunflowerinrain
Good points. I think also that much of the electorate can't tell left from right, and positioning is therefore not particularly useful.

It's shocking how little is known, outside the various parties, of any of their policies. I'm sick of democracy by image, but can see the problem of trying to explain even the main points in short easy sentences.

That principle is a great thing to bear in mind.

Having been rude about "image", an exception should be made for this drawing. Vote Dragon!

Date: 2015-05-12 07:57 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
That's a lovely picture!

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