This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tony Blair and Me !

May 1997, whilst having few illusions as to what might be achieved, ushered in Tony Blair and a 'Labour' government. As a [then] Labour party member and former councillor I cheered their election and the demise of the Tories. I was very definitely 'tribal' Labour !

May 2007 I stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the local elections in Torbay. That speaks volumes !

The authoritarian control-freakery of the Blair-led party doesn't trust it's own members let alone the wider public. There seems no ideological basis for them to exist anymore, other than they may or may not be better technocrats and managers of UK plc. That on so many issues they are closer to the Tories than us says a lot about each of the three main parties. Further, Tony's 10 years have arguably dented the future prospects for all progressive politics within and without the Labour party.

Why the Lib Dems and not Labour for me now ? What I wrote on 10 January 2006 sums it up :

For my part I changed my politics to a degree, but Labour changed there's even more. I used to be portrayed as ' hard left' [!] in my Labour days, but this was a crude stereotype. Whilst I shared with the left a commitment to social justice and a bias to the poor in terms of policy priorities, I did not and do not adhere to top-down centralism. I never will be told what to think or act politically !

Other issues where I depart from 'New Labour' othodoxy can be summed up as such :

commitment to green issues and inclusive grassroots co-operative practice with power devolved to the lowest practicable level (eg credit unions, time banks, mutuals, town/parish councils, community associations, neighbourhood committees)

firm believer in electoral reform (STV)

opposed to the state 'policing' of families (asbo/parental orders)

believe in free university tuition (as experienced by most of the Labour cabinet)

entirely believe in upholding individuals' civil liberties (anti-terror legislation, trial by jury, 'house arrest',equality before the law). I distrust the potential power of private monopolies and the state equally.

internationalist in outlook (pro reformed and more democratic EU and UN)

Accept that open and COMPETITIVE markets usually provide well the consumer goods and services we expect, but am less convinced about private engagement in public service provision such as schools, hospitals, probation service et al. New Labour has a dogmatic private good, public bad philosophy.

It could be that I am just a contrarian, but these days I feel much more in tune with the Lib Dems nationally than Blair's Labour. In reality I have more in common with the instincts of social liberals, be they in the Lib Dems, Labour or Greens. I still see myself as being firmly left-of-centre, albeit in an unorthodox collection of ideas and influences. Maybe others don't see me as being very Liberal, who knows ?!

Maybe I am the 'Brian Sedgemore' of Torbay ;-)

Bye, Bye then Tony. The Labour government has been run almost along 'democratic centralist' lines. With the fall of the 'Communist states' in the latter years of the last century only the Vatican and Labour hold to this tradition in Europe now !!

Anyone think Gordon Brown will be any better ? Hilary Benn as Deputy Leader wouldn't be a bad shout - anyone agree ?

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