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.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Too 'Left Wing' for the LD's ?

During the 2007 local elections and in a recent online exchange elsewhere it was put to me - by a couple of Labour supporters that I should fight for what I believe in from within the Labour party.

'Red Flag' - curiously enough argued with me on a Tory PPC site - that :

By the way Barry your left wing views challenging New Labour should be from with[sic] Labour not from inside that minor party of yours ! Lib Dems too right wing for you surely ?

Now in a previous debate some Lib Dems took issue with the my use of the terms right and left wing, but I hope my response gives Red Flag and others the answer as to how I see myself politically. I replied :

BTW 'Red Flag' whilst I have no problem with being broadly seen as being on the 'left' - much to the chagrin of some LD's - I think the liberal / authoritarian axis is equally important.

Therefore, I can agree with the socially liberal free-marketeer David Laws often more easily than 'left wing' social conservatives / authoritarians like George Galloway. So, on their own the terms 'right' and 'left' wing hide nuances of difference, and as such, could hide the very core values and emphases that separate me from the 2007 Labour party.

[Dis]agreements on policy is one thing and these wax and wane over time. It is core values and principles that are key. Contrary as ever, I'd describe myself at the moment as a Liberal Democrat rather than Liberal per se. I am socially liberal, politically liberal, personally liberal but economically more social democratic oriented, especially in relation to the state and public services.

On core areas I can agree with the LD emphasis on civil liberties, decentralisation, environmentalism, fair taxation, electoral reform, internationalism et al. I did many months ago flesh out some of the policy differences with Labour, so will not do so again. However, I probably share a greater affinity with the typical Labour members' commitment not just equal opportunitiies, but to more equitable outcomes too. This puts me at odds with a number of Lib Dems in blogoshere !

In short, to paraphrase the LD constitution - no-one should be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity - but what real freedoms exist if one lives in inadequate housing, suffers from poor health or is on a subsistence level income ? Choices ? What choices do such people have ? There is still a role for the state, at least as 'guarantors' to protect the most vulnerable in society.

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Anonymous Green Adam said...

Well, if you some day feel that you'd prefer a party that is on the left, but isn't authoritarian, you'll be always welcome to join the Green Party.

The South Devon Green Party was constituted in July this year.

12:08 am BST

Blogger Tom Papworth said...


Greeens... not... authoritarian...

Oh mercy!

9:53 pm BST

Blogger a radical writes said...

Too right! Plus there is the simple but rather effective arguement that labour is economically more right wing than the liberal democrats (at least in the parliamentary party) although as Rupert Murdoch would say 'They'd kill you if you told them so!' I have too considered at times joining the labour party and may well do so later in life if only for the chance to change a broken party that believes it represents the interest of the poor but has done far more to help the interests of the rich and wealthy. The greens ideologically do represent a good alternative to the liberals (and have actually defeated the australian version of the liberal democrats into 4th place) but in their current state are disorganised, fractious and present the wrong answers to the right questions while being made irrelevant by many of the liberal democrat possitions, especially on the environment. Perhaps hearing what my mother has said might help you decide for yourself? She's worked in the civil service since Ted Heath and is now in a senior possition where she meets regularly with MPs to discusss major policy decisions. Although she says Labour have generally progressive aims when they make policy they are actually far more right wing than Margaret Thatcher ever was when it comes to methodology and implementation.
And anyway, I don't think you can exactly be too left wing for a party which has 'The Land is ours' as its official song:)

10:28 pm BST

Blogger Barrie Wood said...

There a lots of good people in the Greens nationally and some very good policies but the chaotic organisation, poor local impact and a perception of a fundamentalist authoritarian greenery is not quite for me.

I do, however, welcome the emergence of another progressive party to South Devon electoral politics, but as you must know in Torbay it really is only the Lib Dems that can challenge the Tories here !

2:09 pm BST

Blogger Tristan said...

The key question:

Do you believe in Free Trade?

That was the great Liberal cause...

True, its economically liberal, but its beneficial to all. Even the Labour Party originally believed in it (until it was overcome by socialism) and it was the Tories who opposed it in favour of vested interests...

2:40 pm BST

Blogger Tristan said...

Oh and thanks for the title ;)

I was already writing a post about whether I'm too 'right wing' so I borrowed the title (modified a bit).

To be honest, we will probably always disagree on some issues, but I am happy to be in the same party as you (unlike some who I may agree with on issues in a certain other party).

4:07 pm BST

Blogger Left Lib said...

I think the Liberal Democrats are the only party that the Left can join these days.
The Green party is not worth it until we have a new voting system.
And even then they are probably not worth it.

10:02 pm GMT

Anonymous Martin Peters said...

I have just left the Labour Party after 25 years and intend to join the Liberal Democrats in Taunton. I am too liberal for The Labour Party and I feel they have not done enough economically. I oppose ID Cards, support fairer taxes and more action on the environment and transport.

Opposing the Tories in Taunton will help stop them forming a government when Labour is certainly on the decline. Without electoral reform a vote for Labour achieves nothing in Taunton.

Martin Peters

7:03 pm GMT


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