Monday, December 15, 2008

Where Liberals and Conservatives Overlap

Nick Clegg has made quite an important speech tonight. One passage struck me in particular...
...A difference which has endured for the best part of a century and lives on in the modern Liberal Democrat and Labour parties.
Liberalism believes fairness, fulfilment and freedom can be best secured by giving real power directly to millions of citizens. Socialism believes that society can only be improved through relentless state activism, a belief driven by far greater pessimism about the ability of people to improve their own lives.

A liberal believes in the raucous, unpredictable capacity of people to take decisions about their own lives. A Socialist believes in the ordered, controlled capacity of the state to take the right decisions about other peoples’ lives.

A liberal believes a progressive society is distinguished by aspiration, creativity and non conformity. A Socialist believes a progressive society is characterised by enlightened top-down Government. …

Optimism in people. Dispersing power. These then are the key instincts of liberals.

All well and good, and I can imagine my LibDem friends agreeing with every word of that. But they should think on. Now read that again, replacing the word Liberal with the word Conservative. There's no difference is there? And doesn't that just highlight the problems the LibDems have - they can't differentiate themselves and create their own political space.


Mr Mr said...

"Now read that again, replacing the word Liberal with the word Conservative. There's no difference is there?

No difference whatsoever.

Martin Curtis said...

Conservatives mean it, Liberals say it because there's a few votes in saying it. That's the difference - it's always the difference.

The Grim Reaper said...

Quite revealing.

On a side note, I notice that you recently visited Russia. In the days that followed, (including today) I've seen adverts on the blog about dating Russian women. Is someone trying to tell us something? ;-)

Iain Dale said...

Google Ad Sense is quite sensitive isn't it?!

Anonymous said...

Clegg has another problem!

Not that Nick Clegg = Neil Kinnock!

But Sheffield Hallam, his voters are aspirant, wealthy, educated and pretty much natural Tories. The Tories seem to be cutting him slack in not getting a candidate in Sheffield Hallam! But in a polarised election, why would Sheffield Hallam voters back someone whose party acts like a filthy orrifice for Labour?

Manicbeancounter said...

With the New Labour model collapsing into traditional Labour with overspending leading to currency collapse and massive debts; or with new rules to solve every problem; or with controls everywhere from anti-terrorism laws to ID cards; or with the Orwellian re-writing of history and every single event so that truth is infinitely malleable. It is the sign of a good leader to distance your party from the mess that has occurred, so that the disenchanted can find a home. Or it is the sign of a true Lib-dem to position yourself for coalition with the most paletable of the parties.

labourparty said...

Clegg's job is to appeal to Tories, because the threat his MPs face comes mainly from a resurgent Tory Party. The real Lib Dems however do not follow Conservative talking points. For example, here's Vince Cable today:

"At the moment there is no justification for throwing large amounts of foreign exchange at the pound.

"There are long term issues about the stability of exchanges rates. In the short term there are advantages and disadvantages, and in any case there's not much the government can do about it."

He doesn't sound much like Osborne, or indeed any Tory (including yourself), does he? But you'll be hard pressed to find a Lib Dem arguing that Cable is wrong, whereas it's easy finding criticism of Clegg.

Jimmy said...

It's a straw man argument. I've certainly never met anyone who believed what Clegg's "imaginary" socialists believe. No doubt they're the ones battling with Boris to ban Christmas.

Unknown said...

But its not all about political ideals in a democracy. Maybe the most important thing is priorities. That is how parties with similar ideals can offer something different to the voters.

Clegg would do well to target his efforts at labour seats in the north that would never return a conservative in a million years!

Lola said...

Think on this. Evolving description of 'capitalism' (inadequate) is perhaps: 'Anglo Saxon LIBERAL democratic Judeo Christian Free market capitalism all working under the rule of English Common Law with thrift responsibilty and compassion.' There. That just about does it. And it covers Conservatives and Liberals. Personally I prefer to use 'libertarian' in place of Liberal, but that does change it a lot. Whatever. No-one with any sense can disagree with Clegg. In fact I think about 70% of the electorate do.

Newmania said...

What Martin Curtis said basically but I also think it is more than Just Nick Clegg in the Liberal Party who is appalled at the bared fangs of authoritarian socialism, sadly many Liberals remain Labour lite

Anonymous said...


I think to be fair the problem is not that at all; the problem is liberalism is a contested and contradictory political space. In some senses what you say is true and I have no doubt there are Lib Dems who could see the truth in what you are saying but on the other hand their are 'evil' slanty eyed 'left side' liberals who see a role for what Clegg calls 'enlightened top-downism', as to be fair your own party does in these extreme times in some ways.

After all that was David Cameron calling for a government backed loan gurantee scheme wasn't it?? We live in interesting times that is for sure.....nothing is really as fixed in one place as they maybe....

Anonymous said...

"replacing the word Liberal with the word Conservative"

Why? What for?

I like what the LibDems represent. I don't always like the Conservative ethos.

I don't belong to any political party either.

Anonymous said...

PS> Why do you think David Cameron calls his party the "new modern Liberal Conservative Party"?

He might be - which would be a good thing - but what about the rest of his party? I'm not so sure...

Charlotte Gore said...

Wait.. Conservatives believe in non-conformity now?

Free market liberals might have a home in the Tory party, but that doesn't mean your party's a liberal one. You're just slightly less terrible than Labour in that you actually *have* some free market liberals in your party and, amazingly, they're not considered evil entryist wreckers like we are in the Lib Dems. Oh well.

Unknown said...

I think you have all missed the point that this is 'liberal' with a little 'L'.

jailhouselawyer said...

Where the LibDems, the Labour and Tories overlap is that none of the parties support all convicted prisoners to get the vote.

Wake up at the back there!

Outside of Westminster Village, across the English Channel is part of Europe with its legal and political cannons pointing towards the UK government.

I'm not British anymore. I'm European. I'm in favour of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, the Committee of Ministers who are gunning for the Ministry of Justice.

I'm alright Jack.

Who's town? We've got a problem. Or, to be more precise, I have given the government a problem it has so far failed to resolve. I won't go away, and neither will the problem.

Dave Cameron and Jack Straw are setting out their stalls for the next General Election and selling pirated copies of inhuman rights act, British Bill of Rights, Rights and responsibilities, etc, etc. Jack has stalled for long enough. The LibDems had set out their stall, then took offence and sat upon it, then changed their minds and two leaders, then reversed into my bandwagon and jumped off the all convicted prisoners votes issue.

"There are supposed to be 'no votes in prisons' and no political prizes for doing something about them. Any politician brave enough either to tell the truth about them or grasp the nettle and try to change the way they are run is likely, so it is believed, to run into difficulties with public opinion".

Not so, the author claims, the evidence is to the contrary. Jack Straw and Dave Cameron both try to woo the editor and readers of the Daily Mail. However, the ECtHR stated "There is, therefore, no question that a prisoner forfeits his Convention rights merely because of his status as a person detained following conviction. Nor is there any place under the Convention system, where tolerance and broadmindedness are the acknowledged hallmarks of democratic society, for automatic disenfranchisement based purely on what might offend public opinion".

Really, it's not a question of public opinion. It's the rule of law which is at stake. The Minister of Justice not upholding the law? Wherever would we be if we tolerated this lawlessness?

Meanwhile, Dave and Nick might want to reflect on who it was that has brought the government to heel? It's all or nothing chaps. We are not taking prisoners. Either oppose the government or get opposed. The choice is yours.

Having knocked over their stalls. I will set out mine.

If I was an MP, and I got a whiff of the cannon balls coming over the English Channel I would be knocking on cell doors in my constituency.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Mr Dale. It's alright. You can tell us what you have wanted to tell us for some time. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Some quite remarkable people have admitted to being Liberal Democrats. The Arts world is full of them, except that just at the moment I cannot recall any actual names. The only one who can get a table at the Ivy is Charles Kennedy and he is off the radar right now.

You can of course get help. Anne Widdecombe and Nicolas Soames might attend an "intervention" if you are willing to confront it.

I know how it happens of are at a party..people shout, "We want Charlie"..then they start spouting utter shite which somehow sounds quaintly compelling in the wee hours.

Let me just give you a harsh word. You are not going to be Cleggy's 31st. Hang on in there and think of Thatcher.

nb. None of my best friends are Liberal Democrats.

Cath said...

martin day you touch on an interesting point re Sheff Hallam.

Hallam is there for the taking if the Tories could get their act together. A lib-dem leader stuck campaigning in the frozen north would be of benefit to the Tories at the next election wouldn't it?

Chris said...

Am I a Tory?
I agree with you in all except; 'Raucous decision making':

Is the sum of our views as a nation the most progressive way to govern in particular with such persuasive media? Surely the grown-up media is the new unionism and we need a fatherly/Thatcherite leader not scarred to go against the emotive grain/daily mirror and tell us what is good for us - it's why we have 'terms' of office surely?

Belief in Raucous decision-making though flattering is not my ideal; can I call myself a Tory?

Finally: If Tories can truly omit the importance of promoting community from this statement I am definitely not on-board:

Modern (global) Government should only be involved in cohesion, protection and provision within your community; protection in our economic systems from Credit crunches and Madoff-moonlight flits. And Provision only where market failure fails to supply (e.g. street lighting). But that is it..

ed.. And now David Cameron has just appeared on TV talking about Community - uncanny!

Unknown said...

And yet whenever the Tories are required to demonstrate economic liberalism they rush in for economic protectionism - look through years of Tory intervention in farming for a start.

neil craig said...

What Clegg says is why I used to be a member of the Lib Dems.

That the party actively don't believe it is the reason why I was expelled.

The party Executive unanimously decided that expressing my belief in a more free market economy, like Ireland's with its 7% growth rate & in a free market rather than top down regulation in the energy & housing businesses was both "illiberal", "incompatible with party membership" & "too right wing" to even think about. No non-conformity, aspiration or creativity to be allowed.

If Clegg actually believes in what he says he literally must quit or be expelled from the party.

If he doesn't or isn't then all his promises to cut taxes are lies, presumably inspired by focus groups presuading him that people actually want more economic freedom. Since he hasn't actually said what particular government costs he would cut they are certainly dodgy.

neil craig said...

Canvas you are perfectly entitled to like what the LIBDEMs stand for. It is just that you are not entitled to call them liberals.

Any liberals in the party, as Charlotte Gore says & their behaviour in my case shows, are treated as the enemy, even if a useful enemy because the public would rather believe the libaerls really stand for free markets & small inoffensive government as the name requires.