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Monday, May 17, 2010

The lost radicals

It is not often that I quote Welsh Ramblings on this blog (and indeed I am going to ignore the less comfortable and inconvenient parts of his post so as to make my point) but he really has hit the nail on the head today over Labour's hypocritical indignation regarding the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in Westminster.

He says: there is an immediate sense that Labour are getting carried away with their attacks on the new liberal conservative coalition. They have immediately gone to the barricades, cementing their false "anti-cuts" narrative. Whether they're talking about delaying cuts for a while or bringing them in straight away, all of the mainstream parties are expecting ordinary people to pay for the banking crisis.

Just as Labour MPs were perceived to have been hungry for opposition, their behaviour has immediately turned to mealy-mouthed tweets and red-flag rhetoric. I am all for that, except Labour does not have a leg to stand on. Their 13 year tenure in office was simply not progressive, centre-left (let alone "socialist"), or particularly virtuous.

It shouldn't be forgotten that Labour presided over a Thatcherite economic policy based on an unsustainable credit boom, an over-reliance on financial services and cutbacks to the state and its ability to protect people from market failure (which indeed happened) and to deliver services. How many pensions were lost? How many assets sold off? How many strikes? That's without mentioning Labour's positioning of the UK as a partner in illegal wars, in condoning the use of torture and in facilitating the global arms trade, despite the tokenistic ban on cluster bombs. There's only so many times tax credits and the minimum wage can be wheeled out by a government responsible for the deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan and for effectively allowing a generation of people to face long-term unemployment, whilst having the nerve to claim they were following a "Keynesian" economic policy.

The ugly truth is that as far as democratic reform goes, the Tory-Lib Dem government is offering a more progressive platform than Labour did. AV is a sell-out for the Liberal Democrats, who should have held out for the use of STV- AV scarcely represents "real change". But AV was a Labour idea in the first place. Labour put AV on the agenda and must bear some of the responsibility for it being floated as a policy to deny genuine proportionality from being attained. On ID cards and civil liberties there is simply no question that the Lib Dems and Tories have both been consistently more progressive than New Labour. Labour's insistence on pursuing detention without trial, surveillance and an abuse of authority has opened up the state to accusations of being sinister or prying, exposing the undeserving public sector to the prospect of an outright assault.

I could not have put it better myself.
Fair enough. I do not think your party is inherently progressive Peter- and I am glad you find that inconvenient.

But, Labour are much worse than you in terms of their record and policy positions, on Iraq and civil liberties in particular.

Because Labour governed from the right, their attacks on you risk sounding hollow and hypocritical. They should bear that in mind when choosing a new leader, instead of opting for Blairite blandness.
I cannot wait to hear Peter Black tell us all why a cap on immigration is such a good policy.

Our indeed Vince Cable think this £6bn 2010 cut is now sound economic policy.

And remember the days Peter Black chided Plaid over tuition fees. Let us await the Browne review!
The Browne Review will be a disaster for the Lib Dems.

Looking at the initial coalition agreement, the main mechanism for the Lib Dems' to abdicate collective responsibility is an opt out or abstention from voting.

Yet in Wales they consistently chide Plaid Cymru for apparently failing to admit collective responsibility for Welsh Government policies (including the one on tuition fees as Marcus says, but also others such as St. Athan and energy policy).

It adds up to the same old Lib Dem "Janus" philosophy, facing both ways and being openly inconsistent.
Two points: 1. You are naking assumptions about the Browne Review that cannot be sustained. Let us see what it says and how government treats it before rushing to judgement.
2. I think it is safe to say that where the coalition document says that collective responsibility does not apply then it should not. There were no such caveats in the One Wales Agreement therefore my comments about Plaid are valid.

If you think the Browne review will not propose lifting the cap on fees, you are as barmy as your ties.

Abstention is what we in Pontypool call 'shitting out'. It is a Lib Dem speciality granted.
Read what I said Marcus. I said: 'Let us see what it says and how government treats it before rushing to judgement.' That is not making any assumptions but it does leave the door open for how the government responds. Plaid and Labour are very willing to jump to conclusions and make predictions but so far all you are doing is making it up as you go along.

I am talking for myself, not a party or government.

Will Lib Dem MP vote against any lifting of the ceiling of fees?

That literally is a 360 turn if they don't.

Also - please can you write a blog post on why a cap on immigration is now a good idea?
The is not a good idea but as you will know you have to compromise in coalition talks and at least we got the end to the detention of children in return.
Are you sure Peter? Alot of the apparent concessions were Tory policy.

Coalition is one thing, but how can you with a straight face now bring forward policies on immigration that are the binary opposite to your policy?

Your party is committed to an 'arbitrary' cap on immigration.

That is a bit different to Leighton Andrews having to promote Plaid's laptops isn't it?
And I suppose it is different to PLaid supporting top up fees as well?
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