...a blog by Richard Flowers

Monday, February 18, 2019

Day 6623: Trigger the TIGgers


Hilariously, their website gives a list of their value, and only gives you the option to agree with all of them. Which, as I understand it, was their problem with Mr Corbyn. But there you go.

Let’s have a look anyway, and see what they believe in and see if we agree to tick any boxes, shall we?

Number 1:
Ours is a great country of which people are rightly proud, where the first duty of government must be to defend its people and do whatever it takes to safeguard Britain’s national security.

This is not a good start.
Leaning heavily into the nationalist, jingoist language of the Leave campaign, and subsequent government opposition love-in, and putting authoritarian “protection” as their first duty.
It’s a bizarre choice to open their manifesto rejecting Mr Corbyn’s pandering to the presumed category of “Labour-supporting white working class leave voter”… with a direct appeal to that same category.

Number 2:
Britain works best as a diverse, mixed social market economy, in which well-regulated private enterprise can reward aspiration and drive economic progress and where government has the responsibility to ensure the sound stewardship of taxpayer’s money and a stable, fair and balanced economy.

So we’re starting to see what they are doing here, which is if you want to look at the positive fluffy foot, picking and choosing values they agree with from across the political spectrum, and if you want the cynical negative fluffy foot, trying to have something that will appeal to everyone.

In this case, a typical wet centrist Tory. Wonder who they could be trying to recruit?

Number 3:
A strong economy means we can invest in our public services. We believe the collective provision of public services and the NHS can be delivered through government action, improving health and educational life chances, protecting the public, safeguarding the vulnerable, ensuring dignity at every stage of life and placing individuals at the heart of decision-making.

Now we are flashing back to core Labour belief in big government shall provide. We really are touring all the Parties, aren’t we.

Number 4:
The people of this country have the ability to create fairer, more prosperous communities for present and future generations. We believe that this creativity is best realised in a society which fosters individual freedom and supports all families.

And so, if it wasn’t for all that had come before, and the fact that obviously it’s OUR TURN, then this might be interesting – trust in people, and expressing belief in creativity through freedom. This is written to appeal to orange book Liberals

Number 5:
The barriers of poverty, prejudice and discrimination facing individuals should be removed and advancement occur on the basis of merit, with inequalities reduced through the extension of opportunity, giving individuals the skills and means to open new doors and fulfil their ambitions.

And this is a Coalition-era Cleggity interpretation of “no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”. Or if you prefer “allowing everyone to get on in life”.

Number 6:
Individuals are capable of taking responsibility if opportunities are offered to them, everybody can and should make a contribution to society and that contribution should be recognised. Paid work should be secure and pay should be fair.

This is, to me, a weirdly Labour view of what Liberalism is about – note that people “SHOULD” make a contribution, and the insistence on fixing paid work. This is more derivative of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his Protestant work ethic, than anything truly Liberal, in spite of the language trying to nod at freedom from poverty.

Number 7:
Our free media, the rule of law, and our open, tolerant and respectful democratic society should be cherished and renewed.

Begging the question “but how?”

These values are the bedrock and necessary foundation for a functioning democracy. The fact is we DON’T have a free media and the rule of law has been and continues to be flouted by the Leave Campaign and the May government. Tolerance and respect are not words that could describe the current political climate either.

So how do we cherish what is failing and dead?

Number 8:
We believe that our parliamentary democracy in which our elected representatives deliberate, decide and provide leadership, held accountable by their whole electorate is the best system of representing the views of the British people.

And not any more referendums!

Which is fair actually. Asserting the primacy of representative democracy really is a necessary starting point to rowing back the anything goes interpreting of the referendum outcome and Willa Thepeople populism.

But it’s not enough, given they are standing under a big slogan of “Politics is Broken. Let’s Change it”.

If the answer is “change it back to what it was before we uncorked the genii of promising millions of people their voices would be listened to” then this lot are going to make things EVEN WORSE.

Number 9:
In order to face the challenges and opportunities presented by globalisation, migration and technological advances, we believe the multilateral, international rules-based order must be strengthened and reformed. We believe in maintaining strong alliances with our closest European and international allies on trade, regulation, defence, security and counter-terrorism

Again begging the question “but how?”

Is membership of the EU are prerequisite? An option? An extra? Or ruled out?

Number 10:
As part of the global community we have a responsibility to future generations to protect our environment, safeguard the planet, plan development sustainably and to act on the urgency of climate change.

We are back to them picking up the agenda of other Parties. Just to cover their bases with any green voters they can attract

And Number 11:
Power should be devolved to the most appropriate level, trusting and involving local communities. More powers and representation should be given to local government to act in the best interests of their communities.

And so we end (on an odd number of values) with coming again to an authoritarian/Labour-eye view of what they think Liberal devolution is about.

I’d prefer to see *decisions* devolved to local government and the power given to *local people* to hold their councils accountable.

Labour has always thought they had the answers, and that anyone who questions that is a “Tory” or a “Class Traitor” or some other reason to reject having their homework marked.

So what does all this MEAN?

Well, probably NOTHING.

It’s just another flash in the pan of the febrile post-referendum, pre-Brexit fustercluck that is British politics continuing to implode under the pressure of doing something impossibly stupid in an impossibly stupid way.

The great cry of the referendum – if you can ask me to do something as moronic as to try to sum up all of the different yearnings that the vote to leave really meant – was “NOT LIKE THIS”.

(So it really should be no surprise that the only thing the House of Commons can agree on is the ridiculous Brady Amendment that says “we agree the Prime Minister’s Deal except not like this”!)

And there is just a CHANCE that BOTH Labour and Tory Parties might break up under the Brexit collapse, and that more than anything would give us the chance to change British Politics in a truly transformative way, with proportional representation and breaking up the Tory and Labour fiefdoms that mean safe seats can be given to favoured sons (and daughters, though it’s usually sons).

IF that happens, change can finally come.

THIS, though, this is not “not like THIS”. This is MORE THIS and extra custard!

This is continuity-Blairism, or more Tory-lite (all of the same policies, but you can still feel good about yourself). Tony Blair MP as anagram of I’m Tory Plan B

What it ISN’T is Liberal – there is nothing at all in their values about holding government accountable or speaking truth to power. In fact, several of them read as “power would be quite nice, thank you”.

I am happy to welcome more diversity on the political scene. But Liberal Democrats should be looking for a VERY LONG SPOON if they plan on supping with these devils.