8 February 2012

The oxymoronic liberal left

Liberals and Liberal Democrats have always rejected a simplistic left right political spectrum so a group calling itself 'liberal left' is somewhat of an oxymoron.

The group is made up of the half a dozen malcontents who wrote to the Guardian last year backing the frankly bonkers, sub trotskyite, Compass 'plan B' economic policy.

Liberal left claim this plan B is "in line with the scope and timing proposed by the 2010 Liberal Democrat manifesto." They clearly have not actually read the manifesto they claim to be so attached to. What it said on the economy was as follows:
"The health of the economy depends on the health of the country’s finances. Public borrowing has reached unsustainable levels, and needs to be brought under control to protect the country’s economic future. A Liberal Democrat government will be straight with people about the tough choices ahead...Our working assumption is that the economy will be in a stable enough condition to bear cuts from the beginning of 2011–12."
Proposals included in the Lib Dem manifesto and opposed by Compass included a cap on public sector pay, restrictions on tax credits, cutting child trust funds and reforming public sector pensions.

So it is clear that Compass/Liberal left's purpose is not to promote the policies on which the party fought the last election or develop new policies (as that space is occupied by the Social Liberal Forum). Instead its leading lights Linda Jack and Richard Grayson, are seeking to work their passage into the Labour party - where their ridiculous and ill thought out views will no doubt be taken far more seriously than they are being taken in the Lib Dems.

Jack and Grayson, of course, have form - as they are already helping to develop Labour policy under the auspices of political opportunist and Labour right winger Liam Byrne. Byrne entered parliament following one of the most illiberal and right wing by-election campaigns seen in the UK.

Jack, Grayson et al need to decide - if they can't support the party's manifesto, its coalition strategy or policies and are happy to work with illiberal elements in the Labour party - what are they doing in the Lib Dems?


  1. Have to disagree Dan.
    We're a broad church so it should be natural that some of us prefer Labour while others prefer the Tories. If we exclude everyone from the party who isn't a "pure" equidistant centrist then we're going to remain a niché group and rule out the possibility of us EVER gaining the support of the majority of the population.

    They also have some fair points about our manifesto. Our deficit cutting plan wouldn't have started any major cuts until a year later compared to the coalition. Our speed of deficit reduction was also closely in line with Darling's plan, so they do have a good reason to claim that economically we're closer to Labour than the Tories.

    Not saying that they're right or that we should agree with them, but they're a legitimate voice within the party that represents the views of some of the membership.

    What's important is that the dialogue remains constructive, and I think that declaring non-liberals isn't the best way to start it.off. :)

    (btw, totally agree with your criticisms of Byrne but if we believe in pluralism then we have to sometimes work with such people, otherwise we should perhaps drop our support for proportional representation!)

  2. "Liberals and Liberal Democrats have always rejected a simplistic left right political spectrum so a group calling itself 'liberal left' is somewhat of an oxymoron."

    What, like Jo Grimond who called for a 'realignment of the left'?

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  4. James
    Jo Grimond's call fell on deaf ears lets not forget.
    The Labour MP Peter Jackson got short shrift for his calls for greater cooperation with the Liberals.
    The Lib-Lab pact wasn't greeted with much enthusiasm by those in Labour Party.