Saturday, February 11, 2012

Liberal Left: let a thousand flowers bloom*...

The news that a new pressure group has been formed within the Liberal Democrats has been 'welcomed' with a surprising level of hostility from a number of my colleagues. Obviously, there will be those who might expect me to be equally dismissive. After all, I'm generally loyal to the Party, and at least tolerant of its leadership.

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceAnd yet, I find myself wondering what the fuss is all about. It is, when all is said and done, the right of any group of Liberal Democrats to organise as they please, within the confines of the Constitution and the Membership Rules.

But what puzzles me more is that, as I recall, we talk a good game about pluralism. And, in a pluralist society, one accepts that individuals and groups have a right to take a contrarian view. It can be argued that the Coalition has been bad for the Party - indeed, polls by Liberal Democrat Voice indicate a consistent stance that the Coalition will be bad for the Party in at least the medium term.

So, for those who have been so negative about Liberal Left, a question. If, after the next General Election, we are offered a choice between Labour and the Conservatives as dancing partners, are you ruling out Labour now? And if so, why?

* Apparently, Mao never said this. The Chinese Communist Party did use the slogan "Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.". But it's still a good line...


Andrew Hickey said...

I wouldn't want to rule out Labour - in fact they'd be by a TINY margin my preferred coalition partner - but the problem is that Liberal Left seem to think the idea of coalition with anyone *other* than Labour should be ruled out. Which would reduce us to nothing more than an appendage within the Labour party.

On top of that, I don't think we need more factions within the party - there tends already to be quite a lot of serious argument between say Liberal Vision and the SLF, without throwing more cliques into the mix.

I don't deny their right to form this organisation, and I don't think they're doing so for bad reasons, but I think it will have bad results.

Stephen Glenn said...

Not ruling either Labour nor Conservatives out. But Liberal Left do seem to want to always rule the Conservatives out, not just after 2015 but ever again, which goes against your argument for pluralism.

Just saying.

Tracy said...

Opposition to Liberal Left does not mean that you would rule out a coalition with Labour, it means that you are open to coalition with either Labour or Conservatives. Liberal Left only want a coalition with Labour.

If Labour had been prepared to negotiate in May 2010 instead working so hard to go into opposition, and we had gone with them, it could have been at the expense of the economy and our AAA rating as we would not have had a majority.

Could the selfishness of fulfilling left leaning support be at the expense of the country? Is that the correct way to go? Left or nothing?

Plus, would forming a coalition with Labour in 2015 make the Liberal Left defunct?