Monday, April 27, 2009

Liberal Conspiracy: where socialists lurk in a trans-Atlantic timewarp

When Liberal Conspiracy was formed, I was deeply suspicious. After all, given that its founding parents were predominantly members and supporters of the Labour Party, it looked like another attempt to recruit Liberal Democrats, Greens and others to some grand coalition of progressive forces against the Tories. I had no fundamental objection to the concept, just to the use of the word 'liberal'.

Recently, as noted by the likes of Andrew Hickey and Jennie Rigg, there has emerged the sense that, whilst at the outset there was at least a show of inclusivity, the true colours of 'Liberal Conspiracy' have begun to be flown. The recent declaration of ethics, written in such a way as to lead any new reader to infer that the whole site was a propaganda machine for Labour, and a number of articles since, appear intended to drive non-Labour participants away. Perhaps our role as camouflage isn't needed now that a decent readership has been achieved.

So I should be demanding that the editorial board stop using the word 'liberal' in their title, right? Tempting, but I think not. Instead, I would suggest that, as is common with Labour activists, they have taken their lead from our American friends and, as usual, drawn the wrong conclusions.

American liberalism is something that I'm quite familiar with. Socially liberal and strongly supportive of the role of government in the economy, these two strands have been at the core of organisations such as Americans for Democratic Action. Our friends at 'Liberal Conspiracy' clearly have an Atlanticist streak in them. The catch is that the average American liberal would be horrified by the authoritarian, controlling Labour Party, horrified by their assault on civil liberties, by their foreign policy, by their timidity on the environment.

So, leave the word 'liberal' by all means, as a reminder that too many Labour activists would like to steal the word but are unworthy of its traditions, American or European, economic or social...

2 comments:

Andrew Hickey said...

To be fair, most of the Labour people at LibCon definitely *don't* have that controlling thing that the party itself does - if they did, I wouldn't associate with them as I do. Most of them *want* to make their party worthy.

The problem is, of course, that most of them seem to see 'turning Labour into a more liberal party' as the most sensible strategy for progress, rather than joining an already-liberal party, and that a large number seem to assume that everyone else agrees with that *really*, and that all of us in the Lib Dems, or the Greens or whoever are just really pretending in our little pretend parties...

Jennie said...

What Andrew said. Even some of the nominally "unaligned" people have this attitude.