The DD effect

Look. Come on, guys. The result of the Haltemprice & Howden by-election was effectively announced at the moment when David Davis resigned today. Once he had pulled that stunt, he was made for the by-election. It doesn’t even matter if the majority of his constituents are pro-42 days. He’s the “guy who resigned on principle”. Some narratives are irresistable.

I’ve read a lot of tirades this evening about what a cynical stunt this is and how it’s appalling we are letting this character stand for British liberties and how these two things mean we must stand against him. I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Yes, it is a cynical stunt, and yes his civil liberties record is far from perfect, but this does not make one whit of difference to the positioning he has created for himself. It’s a done deal.

At best, we could have stood wimpily. Yes, we agree with him on the one issue he is campaigning on. And yes, well, admittedly we have far less chance of being in the governing party than he does come the election. But, look, we have all these other nice things as well! Green taxes and… where are you going! Come back!

At worst, we could have stood aggressively, negatively, petulantly. Ner, well, you don’t want to believe anything Tories say. Our civil liberties are the real civil liberties.

What these twin poles translate into is at best a worthy-but-dull second, and at worst being the meanie, jealous nasty kid who pulled the popular girl’s hair. If we wanted to be in the position Davis is now in, we should have thought of it first (easier said than done mind, given that we don’t have MPs in quantities to give away free with breakfast cereal, and our own Shadow Home Secy is balancing on a knife-edge of a majority in Eastleigh).

Please, rather than self-harming, let’s try and look at this from the outside. Go onto any news website tonight, from the Hate Mail to the Groan, and I guarantee you’ll find dozens of self-proclaimed normal people wetting themselves with admiration at David Davis – and not a few of them will be extending their generous incontinence to Nick Clegg for giving him a free run. I actually saw someone suggest on CiF earlier today that the incident proved that Clegg “has backbone after all” which just goes to show how unbelievably convoluted most people’s brains are. Further, go onto ConHome, where the fall-out from this is as complex and multi-faceted as ours – it’s a disaster! It’s a triumph!

Believe it or not, the electorate as a whole is neither as concerned with Liberal Democrat triangulation as we are, nor as concerned with the “Cameron project” (as I learn it is disturbingly called) as the Tories are. They just love a good story with a nice, neat tied up ending. Please let’s, all of us, keep a little perspective, and concentrate. Nick Robinson’s personal weathervane happens to be point in our direction at the moment and we must use the momentum, as I hope Clegg is doing.

Splits in the Tory party are of course hotly cooly denied by all one of the sides. Rumours abound to the contrary, many of them started by me, but one alternative dimensional scenario doing the rounds is giving me genuine pause for thought. If DD had stayed in post, ground his teeth, bided his time and waited to get into the home office in 2010, he could repeal the 42 days legislation before he’d got his feet under the table.

So, er, why didn’t he?

Why stand down, not just from his seat as a somewhat clumsy and melodramatic way of “taking the issue to the country”, but from the one post in which he could actually get his heart’s desire? I don’t really buy all this toss about him being an unprincipled weathercock out for glory and seeking to embarrass his party leader. He has had ample opportunities to move against Cameron since the leadership election and hasn’t taken them – why pursue his cunning plan now that the Tories are looking stronger? He has never come across as much of a showman either.

And there’s another important strand to this – Tory HQ will not be funding his campaign. Why the hell not? He’s still a Tory (rumours of his independent status and invitations from the Libertarian Party notwithstanding). He looks like becoming a very popular Tory very quickly. All Cameron has to do to ride the surf here is back him delightedly, fund him amply and promise him his portfolio back on the achievement of said glorious victory. I see a number of people on both Lib Dem Voice and Liberal Conspiracy are convincing themselves that the whole thing must be some preternaturally devious evil Tory plot but they don’t appear to consider this. If it is a Cameroon plot, it’s backfiring on them bigtime.

The only alternative explanation for DD giving up his front bench post is because he has learned, or it has become clear to him, that some of his more neocon fellow front-benchers (neocon sounds daft in a British context, somehow, and particularly a Tory context; neodweeb would be nearer the mark) hold beliefs about civil liberties that are inimical to him. If he stayed where he was, come 2010 he would be a lone wolf home secretary in his own government. We’ll see how things look in the light of morning, but currently my feeling is that this is way too ridiculous and overcomplicated to be a plot. There are far easier ways for the Tories to win the next GE, not the least of which would have been “Carry on as you are”. I don’t for one moment believe they would go to this trouble and raise all these questions. This is a split, pure and simple.

As a sidelight on the whole business, I must say that Iain Dale’s Diary has been nothing if not helpful and it has not been helpful. Sweetie though he is, I don’t read the dear man much. He’s a news conduit rather than a writer to turn to for interest and enlightenment, so I tend to enter the blue and white portal only when some pressing event is occurring. And what do I find? A soapy tribute to the great man so soft you could wash babies’ bottoms with it. If he knows the back story (and given his links with DD, he should) he ain’t telling.

Meanwhile one of his commenters is gravely concerned for the Dalester’s integrity:

The MSM have a narrow view of the world that is adrift from the reality faced by the people.

That is why blogging, at its best, is important. It derives its vitality from a direct connection with that reality.

It is also, at its best, immediate. Guido had the news before the BBC and well before Reuters and comments flowed, unmoderated, from the moment he posted.

Your appearances on TV showed you think BBC and Sky News are more important than the two most important blogs in the UK: this one and Guido’s.

They are not. Far from it when you hear Nick Robinson yet again telling us all what we think and getting it horribly wrong.

You had an opportunity today to show what blogging can do.

But instead of thinking “today is the day my blog goes bigtime” you headed for the TV studios.

Bad decision. Very bad.

We in the People’s Republic assure Mr “Johnny Frontpage” that we would sooner be hiding under a blanket with a cup of tea and a slightly tea-stained keyboard than go and be all urbane and knowing and wear exciting ties on Sky News any day.

42 Comments

  1. I think you’re wrong on the decision by the Lib Dems not to stand. It’s not actually in David Davis’s power to say that the election will be fought on only the one issue: the electorate in H&H have the privilege of deciding what the issues are. Yes, DD would almost certainly have won anyway even if we had stood, but so what? At least if we stand we’re putting forward a liberal case to the electorate, and pointing out that DD’s record on some civil liberties issues such as equal gay rights is actually pretty poor.
    As it is, Clegg’s abysmal decision not to contest the election means we’ve more or less ceded the whole civil liberties agenda to the Tories for the foreseeable future.

  2. “we’ve more or less ceded the whole civil liberties agenda to the Tories for the foreseeable future.”

    We *haven’t*. The Tories are split now and they’ll be just as split after DD has romped home. There’s such a thing as timing. I can only repeat, go and look at some news websites where “normal” people are gathering. They’re just not as *interested* in what this means for the Lib Dems as we are. We’re getting the odd crumb of “Oh, they’re not standing because they agree. Good for them.” and that’s a very decent return of good publicity for a by-election we aren’t even fighting.

    I just don’t understand what our narrative in the by-election could be. It could only be negative or feeble. And we don’t need any more of either of those.

  3. “David Davis as libertarian hero” is far more dangerous to Cameron than he is to the Lib Dems. We already agree entirely with him on this issue (though there are plenty of others where we disagree), and it’s Dave who has the challenge of trying to reconcile the divided opinions of his colleagues. David Davis is quite possibly setting himself up as the popular challenger to any attempt by the ‘New Tories’ to continue New Labour’s most illiberal tendencies, and that has to be a good thing.

  4. Several months ago, I expressed my admiration for Davis’ stand on civil liberties. Yes, I KNOW he’s an unreconstructed Thatcherite. But then, people can be right-wing & ally with us on many issues (see Peter Hitchens). In fact, we need them…

    Since the majority of people are not liberal, and won’t become so for (how long would you say) 50 years, we need allies on specific issues who don’t share our other views. The opposition to the Iraq adventure was similar.

    I would rather have him, a man of principle even if the views aren’t all mine, to lowlife like Labour, Widdecombe, Paisley, Spink and the Daily Hell and the Scum.

    As much as I abhor the Tories, I really wish them well in purging themselves of people like Gove (whom I’ve regarded as scum and a twat ever since his praise for Blair over Iraq, which conclusively demonstrates that he has nothing to do with the best traditions of Tory England, which I respect even if I don’t belong to them, and is merely a neocon who wants to turn this country into America).

    But I don’t think it will ever happen. Camoron hasn’t got anyone of Davis’ substance. Can you imagine Gideon Osbourne taking a principled stance on anything? In fact, he and his lowlife mate Gove were behind the plans to pander to the lowest common denominator.

    We shouldn’t mince our words. The general public think “it’s only wogs, we’ve got nothing to worry about”. But even though I’m unlikely ever to be detained for 42 days, I’m still bitterly against it because I want to be free.

  5. “But even though I’m unlikely ever to be detained for 42 days, I’m still bitterly against it because I want to be free.”

    And also because the people who are accused are probably innocent, and if guilty should be found to be so by a valid, evidence-based proceedure, because the last time I looked they have the same rights as me even if they do belong to an easily scapegoated minority.

    But I did have one rather shameful thought the other day. The incoming government, in repealing this utter shit, should keep it in place for just long enough to nail every “unionist” of even vaguely questionable position, especially those connected to the DUP, for 42 days. Give them a taste of their own medicine.🙂

    Would it really be so bad, would I be flayed alive by Joe Average, if I said I’m more afraid of Brown’s authoritarian state than being hit by a bomb? At least a bomb would finish me off rather than dooming me to a life of serfdom, mitigated only by fucking mindless TV programmes and celeb magazines.

  6. Me again…

    In writing the last paragraph in the second post, I obviously didn’t want to imply that this law would be useful in fighting terrorism.

    It won’t.

  7. Alix, I think you’re absolutely right, with two very small caveats: (1) it’s only a one off, single issue event because he says it is; (2) three weeks is quite a long time, politically.

    That said, I think the Cleggster was spot on to pull out: as you say, we risk a dangerous second place by standing, and if for any reason Davis does lose control of the narrative, we’re in the best position to win the seat at the next election anyway.

  8. ‘We’re getting the odd crumb of “Oh, they’re not standing because they agree. Good for them.”’

    We’re definitely getting a fair bit of this, and it’s also been possible to detect a certain amount of annoyance from some Tories that we’re not standing.

    Clegg has come out of this looking much better than Cameron, and that matters, too.

  9. Alix, yes this is a lose lose situation, I think we just disagree on what the worst loss will be. I am dead set certain that our worst loss will be come the next general election when people who waver Tory/Lib Dem will, to a (wo)man go Tory because they are going to win.

    Our hope for the next election is hung, yes? But we’re getting nearer and nearer to a Tory landslide, because every big public argument that comes up, we are allowing them to set the agenda.

    Also, the dynamic for this has changed now that Kelvin McKenzie is standing. Davis will have his fight and his party will feel obliged to grit their teeth and unite behind him. We will therefore have the curious spectacle of two authoritarians duking it out over exactly how authoritarian we should be, and not a jot of a proper liberal voice to be heard.

    I don’t think there’s any way we could have come out of this well, but to bend over and allow ourselves to be marginalised is not at all the least awful outcome.

  10. Three cheers for this piece. Spot on.

    I think there is some primitive emotional hard-wiring in all our brains that goes:

    Opponent! => Must fight!

    or

    We don’t like what is happening here! => Must fight!

    It’s a bit like how some footballers (Rooney in the last World Cup, or Beckham the time before come to mind) can be provoked into retaliating and get sent off. Davis has provoked us by laying claim to a piece of our territory, and the question is whether we should retaliate.

    And of course we shouldn’t. We should look at it, as Alix says, from the outside. From there, it doesn’t look like provocation. A makes a stand for something B believes in. B betrays/opposes/attacks A. B is the bad guy, emotionally unstable, whatever.

  11. I agree (from the outside) with Alix here, the real story is a fight for British freedoms against alien authoritarianism, and that’s a fight worth winning, particularly if it involves Kelvin MacKenzie get his face rubbed in the dirt.

    Surely a constituency where 17,600 people can be persuaded to put a cross next to the Liberal Democrat isn’t going to elect a vicious tabloid loudmouth with no prior interest in the area who’s decided to parachute himself in to support the incredibly unpopular Prime Minister. Not when his opponent is a dignified man of principle who’s served the area for 21 years, is local and standing on a British conservative platform? What’s the area like? Why do the Lib Dems do well there in 2005? What is it about the LD platform that puts them in a good second place?

    Davis is going to come in for a heap of shit and smear from the press and government over the next few weeks. Do the Liberal Democrats really want to be associated with that crew? I’m already worried enough about the nature of the pushier Tories (did you know Nick Boles, of Policy Exchange and currently being paid £12k a month as Boris Johnson’s chief of staff, is a Henry Jackson Society signatory?) to want to seem them flushed out before the election rather than after it.

  12. Steady on Asquith, not all Labour are scum. Remember, 36 MPs from all across the party voted against 42 days, including most (though shamefully not all) left Labour MPs. Our mutual friend Mark Fisher from Stoke Central took a principled stance while the Walley from the north of the Potteries fell behind the government.

    Re: DD, Alix, this post is one of those ‘so and so blogs so I don’t have to’ moments for me. There’s no doubting DD will get back in comfortably. Given the character of the constituency I doubt anyone from the left of Labour will get their act together and have a stab at the seat (leaving aside whether us on the far left are ever able to get our acts together …), but the Greens might have a pop. Also there’s been comment that the disgusting Kelvin MacKenzie is going to stand as a pro-42 days candidate. That should prove interesting.

  13. Alix,

    I would never say it is a plot by David Cameron. If I was in Camerons position id want to throw Davis out; he must be seething. It’s a plot by David Davis to inflate and big up the ego and reputation of yes, you’ve guessed it, David Davis. He has put his ego before the party and before the principle and it wont be long before the Conservative core turns on him I would imagine.

    His descision would be understandable and laudable if he was on the Labour front benches but errr he isn’t. I am going to make a shock prediction; Davis might well lose and what he will gain from our support in this farce he will lose in agitated Tories turning against him. I’m not altogether convinced all our voters will automatically throw their weight in behind him at all.People know a rat when they smell one. His ego is actually damaging the cause we all agree is important.

    It isn’t just he ‘isnt our kind of liberal’ he isnt a liberal or progressive of any stripe at all. As for calling Labour scum; well I can understand that sentiment and the bitterness felt by the vote but I would hope you wouldnt address that comment to Labour voters who want to find a new home with us.

  14. I agree, particularly now Kelvin Mackenzie is likely to throw his hat in the ring. It’s riduculous to suggest that we could somehow change the agenda to a general question of who’d make the best MP. It’ll be a huge scrap about 42 days and other civil liberties inringements and a Lib Dem candidate would be reduced to a platform of “what he said – but more so!”

    Also, while it may not be true that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the enemy of Kelvin MacKenzie is certainly someone I’d be willing to have a drink with.

  15. A Very Public Sociologist, I do indeed respect such Labour MPs as have opposed the government. Our old friend G. Dunwoody did so.

    But, by remaining in the Labour Party when it went bankrupt long ago, they make all this possible.

    This is not a Labour government. I’d still oppose it if it was, but at least I’d have some vague respect for it…

  16. Darrell, can we just clarify that the Labour=scum thing didn’t come from me. It came from Asquith and he is young and excitable, hehehe, mischievous sweary pup that he is… And has now himself clarified to a more reasonable position.

    AVPS & Tom, good to know the well-known natural alliance between radical left and floating liberal/libertarian has come into play on this issue!😀

    I do hope KMK stands. I would love it if Murdoch got a kicking. Now *that*, we could all unite behind.

  17. Aye, I’m a child. You will doubtless wish to disown anything I’ve ever said. I know I do/will do soon🙂

    These are exciting times, in terms of “alliances”. We often find ourselves agreeing with the far left. I have a workmate who is really out there, & we agree on most things. Even Peter Hitchens, as much as you’d expect me to regard him as the spawn of Satan, is agreeable quite often. And then there are right-wing libertarian bloggers, who would have been my sworn enemies 20 years ago.

    Perhaps it really is the case that left-libertarians, liberal libertarians and right-libertarians have a lot in common.

    The only people I thoroughly abhor are this government (that was what I meant by “Labour”: a lot of Labour members, like Bob Piper… and I believe Ministry Of Truth is a member of the Labour Party too, are all right). And, of course, the Daily Mail and the BNP.

    Another group of people I abhor are Shite (oh, sorry, “Spiked”) Online. I don’t know what they’re all about?

    But the point is that the whole system of left vs right and that being that, if it ever existed, bit the dust some time ago.

  18. Just a footnote about Clegg’s decision not to field a candidate against Davis …

    For a certain generation of voters, the Lib Dems have never entirely recovered from breaking with convention and standing in the by-election that followed the murder of Ian Gow MP by the IRA. Never mind that your candidate won – the real problem was the stench of a particularly foetid strand of opportunism that put party advantage over any minor objections to e.g. letting terrorists change the political landscape.

    On a personal note, and writing as a Tory, I think Clegg’s decision was the most sensible one, in practical terms, for the LibDems – but it also does something, at long last, if exactly to right that particular wrong, then to begin to soften the anger that some of us still feel about the events of 1990.

  19. I would vote with David Davis on a particular issue where we agreed but never, never would I support the sublimation of our own identity to his own vainglorious and reactionary agenda. Same with Peter Hitchens; that is where the line in the sand is between tactics and principles and when ‘tactics’ become deeply deeply unprincipled and just plain wrong which is what this descision is.

    I am amazed that people think this is an opportunity for us to be heard; the only person that the media will be talking to is David Davis, we wont rate a mention. In fact, since they are actually standing the Monster Raving Loony Party will probably get more attention than us. To think this will soften people up to vote for us is absurd in the extreme; it will soften people up to see the Conservative Party as the defenders of civil liberties and not bother voting for us. This will lose us votes and maybe even seats.

    If you want to line up with people like Peter Hitchens who is a reactionary bigot like Davis then be my guest; i dont because that is a total betrayal of the principles I am in politics for.

  20. “Splitter!”

    Ah, thanks, I was forgetting myself for a moment.

    Back to Davis. What’s clear already is that he’s put himself outside what one might call the Establishment, in the way that’s currently formulated. To whit, a cast of mind engendered by Home Office types, senior police officers and the mainstream media that there’s a Threat which requires Urgent Action which justifies any old infringement of civil liberties, the defenders of which a frivolous do-gooders who just don’t Get It. The tone of the BBC’s articles on the by-election follow this line precisely – DD is not going to get an easy ride.

    Youse proper Lib Dems and indeed anyone who’s ever gone ‘wait a minute, this is bullshit’ when listening to Tony bloody McNulty or Hazel blasted Blears should be familiar with this feeling. I know I am – I’ve argued with enough lock-em-up knuckleheads in my time. However, for a string-em-up right-wing Tory, used to uncritical adoration for being tough and sensible and so on, this must come as a rude shock. Welcome to my life, David. Now let’s see what you make of it.

  21. I don’t think there’s a contradiction between being a law ‘n’ order Tory and supporting civil liberties. We agree that good laws should be enforced properly rather than creating bad laws.

    But we differ over which laws are good, & our side believe that focusing on the causes of crime will deliver far better results in 20 years.

    At least I can speak to people like Davis, the neocons and strongarm socialists are simply from another world.

    PS-
    I agree, Blears was sickening in her attempt to defend the indefensible. I don’t know how these people can face themselves in the mirror.

  22. PPS-
    Your mate Luke Akehurst has a completely repellant post up. These people really think like that. And have the audacity to call themselves Labour.

  23. Asquith:

    If you are so concerned about 42 days what is wrong with talking to Diane Abbott who made an amazing speech in the debate against it and has been principled in her opposition to it as have other Labour MP’s…I have no problem talking to Davis but I cant say I agree with him on barely anything…yes I do on this issue and I can see where he comes from well enough; his own overweaning vanity in this case mostly but hey-ho….

    What is on the agenda in this debate is our leaderships descision to submerge our own political identity into the Davis campaign, reducing us to nothing…you might be happy with that but I am not….

    As to Luke Akehurst I think you should know from reading the exchanges we have that we have next to nothing in common politically….

  24. I could indeed “talk” to many members of the Labour Party, but my first question would be why they are remaining within such an authoritarian control-freak party, voting for it, & propping it up in government in general.

    I have no wish to malign those few liberals still in Labour, but they need to ask themselves what they are doing. My statement was that “At least I can speak to people like Davis, the neocons and strongarm socialists are simply from another world”. Obviously the few left-liberals who are in Labour fall into neither category, and probably have more in common with me than with Brown: I have never tried to criticise them, except in the matter of their enduring loyalty to a morally bankrupt party.

    I do not consider the leadership to be subsuming our liberal identity: we are fully committed to opposing Davis at the by-election; he obviously deserves to be opposed. But on this occasion, I do indeed agree with the leadership. Regrettably, the majority of people & politicians are not liberal, so we must take allies on specific issues where we can until this country is liberalised (which will certainly happen eventually, if not for some time to come).

    You are, obviously, welcome to express a different view. There is certainly the potential for you to be proven right. But I hope that doesn’t happen😉

  25. By “at the by election” I meant “at the general election”. I wrote something that is totally different from what I was trying to… put it down to being too early in the morning.

    Alix (& anyone else), do you ever visit The Devil’s Kitchen? He has really scored a bullseye on this. Especially his fisking to death of lowlife Luke Akehurst. Sometimes, I think I agree with the fucker on almost everything, apart from the environment.

  26. Well you have to understand that people are loyal to a Party even when outsiders see so clearly what you describe which I agree with you 100% on; the leadership doesnt always behave as we would wish but we endure and fight our corner. Denouncing people for that isn’t helpful I feel, I am bitterly opposed to our leaderships position on the Davis by-election as you know and would go as far as to call it unprincipled but I have no intention of flouncing off.

    I disagree with you and would ask you this question. Who will want to talk to us during this campaign?? How will we articulate and lead the debate when we are not even standing??

    I havent seen Devils Kitchen but you have enticed me to take a peak😉

  27. I can’t really come up with an answer to your question, Darrell. It seems we’ve been placed in a difficult position by these events.

    But what I do believe is that this whole thing will concentrate public minds on the 42 days debate. The more people think about it, the more they will turn against it. I think we all know that the “supporters” are rather flippant, haven’t thought deeply, & can be won over in a lot of cases.

    We can send them away thinking, then hammer home the message that only we can be trusted, as the old Thatcherite authoritarians & the new neocons still infest the Tory party.

    I find it strange that the same Mail readers who complain about “the nanny state” are now turning around and supporting massive extensions of state power over the individual… but we can win them over.

    The whole situation is not ideal. It seems we’ve got the best we can out of a bad deal, but we can get quite a bit from increased focus on civil liberties, which will surely lead to increased support for civil liberties as people start to think & consider matters. I would have preferred not to start from here, and that’s as much of an answer as I can offer🙂

    PS-
    It may well be said in 50 years that this was one of the final nails in The Sun’s coffin. They are the past, we are the future, & their fear & hysteria prove that they know it.

  28. Well you may be right Asquith and you may well be not; I rather suspect there is a danger this will concentrate public minds on the ego of David Davis and the splits in the Conservative Party too.

    Assuming you are right for a second; who will talk to a party that isnt even running a candidate? We struggle for coverage when we are in third place; we would have had plenty this time around since we were in second but I rather feel that this is letting Davis lead the debate on behalf of the Tories.

    Incidentally, I find Alix’s argument on this totally mind-bending. She knows well enough that the Lib Dems struggle for coverage and the argument that not having a candidate will increase that is as I said mindbending.

  29. To pour some rain on Asquith’s libertarian love-in, I’m sorry to say my friend that when it comes to economics there is much to divide us.

    Anyway, I do agree these are strange political times. DD wins plaudits across the political spectrum to the extent Labourites like Bob Marshall-Andrews has come out for him. Kelvin MacKenzie, every inch a proper scum bag who opposes everything the labour movement stands for initially stepped forward to make the 42 case for the government. Now the baggage handler from Glasgow airport who punched a would-be suicide bomber out is being courted by The Sun. And to top it all off, famous anarchist and NUM militant, Dave Douglass, is said to be considering standard.

    Bizarre!

  30. Yes, but that’s the whole point of an alliance (or, in language you may understand, a popular front ;)).

    We do not agree on many issues, admittedly. We are wholly different in our identities. But we are allies for civil liberties and against war. And true economic liberals ally with the far left against the current system, which as we all know is rigged by the state in the interests of large corporations (ie. is not liberal). We also share an interest in conserving the natural environment, & many specific policies.

    I cannot stress opposite enough that we do not stand for Tesco minus the state, or for the Turd (oh, sorry, Third) Way, we stand for a system which truly empowers and liberates human beings.

    There has not been such a flowering of ideas since the late 1970s. But these are better ideas😀

    I have stated on many occasions that this is not a Labour government. Obviously if it were a true Labour government I’d be very much against it, but I’d have some vague respect for it. I honestly do wonder why people like Luke Akehurst joined the Labour Party. Every day they must ask themselves where it all went wrong… but I, myself, am firmly within the liberal tradition which extends back to the Parliamentarians and the Whigs, or even further, and had its most glorious flowering just before World War One… that is, apart from the future, when our best days will dawn🙂

    The blogosphere’s view, which will be the mainstream view in 20 years, is more liberal than that of the MSM. Do you ever visit Liberal Conspiracy?

  31. Sorry for being a little vague there. My definition of “alliance” is “a union between forces which are different, having different sources & identities, but find themselves on the same side”. As you are aware, liberals’ allies on one issue will be there enemies on another.

    But that is part of the excitement. It is true pluralism. No more will there be a monolithic two-party, two-force contest, there will be incessant battling between all kinds of random factions🙂

  32. Lol, I suspect like many of them “brother” Akehurst joined as an idealistic but career-minded youth and has just followed the direction the air was blowing in. Pity he’s ended up in one of the most reactionary places imaginable.

  33. No, my humble belief is that grassroots attitudes, inherited from “Old” Labour, made this authoritarianism possible. They believe in using the state for social engineering, so why not engage in this behaviour?

    Maybe an arbitrary line can be drawn between which state control is and is not “progressive”. But my conclusion is that we should beware of concentrating too much power in any hands (and, yes, that includes large corporations too).

    Labour are not, & never have been, liberal. Nor have they ever wanted to be…

  34. Ive just made much the same comment on Jonathan Calder’s blog, only not as wittily. I didnt read yours first and didnt plagiarise, honest…

    (as you say, in a nutshell, there’s nothing to be gained from standing except a load of bad publicity. We should have just thought of it first…)

  35. Wot no comments on the outcome? I find it significant that the Green candidate saved her deposit, while those few candidates whose major plank was more detention finished well down the list.

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