Friday, December 17, 2010

Feeling their pain

The parallels between the plight of today's LibDem activists and that of many Labour supporters during the Blair years.

Contribution by Councillor Bob Piper

Ed Miliband’s appeal for those Liberal Democrats dismayed by the coalition with the Conservatives may attract some waverers, but I doubt it will lead to the complete demise of the Lib Dems that some people are predicting.

Personally I have a sympathy with those on the radical wing of the Lib Dems who feel betrayed by Clegg, Alexander and co. They will have spent years listening to their leaders in opposition decrying “the two main parties” and promising nirvana if only they were in power. Ok, most will surely have accepted that getting power in their own right was not achievable in the short term, but they hung on to the belief that they could hold the balance of power in a coalition. And so it came to pass. But I doubt many Lib Dem members thought that entering a coalition would result in their MPs accepting a complete u-turn on issues like tuition fees. Accepting a review of Trident is one thing, they may even have accepted that the Tories and Labour, whichever they joined up with, would combine to ensure Trident was renewed. But to see their leaders vociferously arguing for a measure which they had spent over 10 years decrying… that was not what they were expecting.

The reason I have some sympathy is that some of us in the Labour Party have been there and bought the t-shirt. We spent the best part of two decades on platforms condemning the Thatcherite market-led NHS reforms, the privatisation of public services, the anti-trade union laws, the Private Finance Initiative etc. Then we suddenly discovered that these things were not going to be reversed, but worse, they were actually at the heart of Blair’s New Labour party. I remember only a few months in to the Labour Government of 1997, when the euphoria was still pumping through Labour veins, moving a resolution at UNISON’s Affiliated Political Fund conference calling for a halt to PFI schemes. The resolution was passed but was opposed by two leading lights of the union, Dave Anderson and Ann Picking (both destined to become Labour MPs) which made me uneasy at the time. And also opposed by Keith Vaz who, without a hint of shame or irony, told the conference that previously we had quite rightly opposed ‘Tory PFI’ …this was different… it was ‘New Labour PFI’!!!

And this was years before Blair’s wars and infatuation with Bush, or plans for 90-day internment, or ID cards and all of the other authoritarian post-9/11 measures. You know, those things that Ed Miliband confessed were errors or misjudgments during his leadership bid.

So, if there are Lib Dems out there thinking of packing it all up, my message to you is don’t despair. Clegg may be just a blip, a small hiccup in the long history of your party. Stick to your principles and one day you may be secretly stifling a smug grin as speaker after speaker stands up to denounce Clegg and his ilk and all of their crypto-Tory machinations.

In closing though, comrades, I have no wish to form a coalition with you. We should both want to trample the Tories in to the dirt and ensure a permanent democratic socialist/social democrat political future for Britain. A strong Liberal Democrat opposition to what you perceive as the excesses of a Labour Government should be the short term aim, not the shabby little compromise you now find yourselves locked in to.

Of course, for those who really don’t have the stomach to endure five years of the current horror show… I’m told our membership is still open to applications.

*This article was originally posted at Councillor Bob Piper.


Stan Moss said...

I find myself nodding in agreement with this. The argument that the more leftist LibDems should do one and join Labour is a fairly flimsy one, especially if coming from those like myself who put up with the most gut-wrenching decisions of the Blair administration.

A more legitimate question though is if anybody on the LibDem left will stand a chance in 4 years' time. It may be too late. The party is in serious danger of ending up with a handful of MPs only. This may prompt jumping ship before it sinks.

Jackart said...

Bob. The previous time Labour got in, they were fiscally inept, borderline treasonous and totally in thrall to the Unions. The country was an ungovernable bankrupt mess.

Likewise, Labour in office from 1997 were savagely authoritarian, fiscally inept and catrastrophically incompetent, destroying everything they touched. The bloated civil service takes 25,000 people to organise Defence procurement, something Israel manages with... 300. They introduced a new law a day, and left the country with historic levels of peace-time debt and a stratospheric deficit.

Remind me, why should ANYONE, even a left-winger, vote Labour ever again?

Bob Piper said...

And the last time the Tories were in power over a period of 18 years they jacked up unemployment, turned our national health service into a third world service with two-year hospital waits, ran our school buildings down until they were slums, we had riots on the streets and they lined the pockets of their wealthy friends in the City whilst attacking the poor.

This time round they have taken only a matter of months to show that normal service has been resumed...


Stan Moss said...

Remind me, why should ANYONE, even a left-winger, vote Labour ever again?

In which case tory jackart, why get so het up? And what the fuck does borederline treasonous mean? And totally in thrall to the Unions? Blair? You sure? Do you read the news by any chance? It shows how in touch with the real world you are.

socialist sam said...

The disquiet amongst tpday's Liberals throws me back to Blair's 1st term, when there were insistent talks of a split coming from the party's Left (people like Tony Benn and Ken Livingstone) who were feeling increasingly marginalised and unsettled. In the end caution and backstabbing prevailed over airing feelings in the open and nothing came out of it. My money is on this as the outcome this time round again.
Paradoxically I agree with Jackart. The Socialist left has now had fifteen years of delusions and disappointments to learn that both Labour and the Libdems will never represent us. We need to find the resolve to vote for alternative parties. Until then there's no use in complaining. Labour or the Liberals are not in it for you.

thepatriot said...

the left in the UK is finished. the sonner you get that into your skull, the better for everyone in the country if we want to save Britain from the brink.

claude said...

patriot, you wanna save yourself from yourself, you pitiful twatlet.