Are we just a front for the Liberal Democrats?
A serious question, which deserves a serious reply.
If this general election were occurring
under a proportional or preferential voting system, we personally would
probably be voting for the Greens. Now, under First Past the Post conditions,
why would we be backing the SNP or Plaid candidate ahead of the LibDem
in several Scottish or Welsh seats if we were closet LibDems?
And why in 4 seats in the East End of London would we be backing Respect as having a better chance than the LibDems (or Greens) of telling British politicians loud and clear: Never again to join Bush in invading oil-rich Muslim countries - or any other!
The truth is that we are independents, with an original take on how now to develop the GROT tactical voting strategy we first worked out in 1997 which helped to take an extra 47 seats off a Tory party awash with sleaze and divisions.
A few of those active in the ‘Get Rid Of the Tories’ tactical voting campaign of 1997 ran Lib-Lab vote-swap websites in 2001. The same simple anti-Tory model of tactical voting is currently continued by Jason Buckley at www.tacticalvoter.net. The reason other one-time GROT-activists now disagree with that approach is that both in 1997 and in 2001 tactical voting can also be said to have ‘overshot’ in so far as having such a large majority has obviously brought out the worst in Blair and other New Labour leaders and officials.
The result has been that the Party leadership cast progressive supporters of fair votes aside, and even within the labour party and movement they largely stopped listening, with the result that they have too often ridden roughshod over inner-party democracy and policy procedures.
So are we really just liberals?
Of course we have been influenced by Liberal ideas. However like many people we have also been influenced by Feminism, Ecology, the peace movement, multiculturalism, Interfaith and anti-racism, Celtic nationalism, Socialism and even aspects of what we would call ‘alternative conservatism’. (In any case many of these movements grew out of political liberalism and in turn liberalism at its best is challenged and renewed by them.)
As (interdependent) ‘independents’ the question we ask is not whether we share all of the LibDems ideas, but rather whether they share enough of ours!
Of course Liberalism has weaknesses and at times it has made many harmful mistakes. Historically it has been slow to understand important things about global power relations, and about class, and about how the ‘free speech’ of bullies can wound in itself and prepare the ground for further persecution.
But if we are to avoid the common partisan trap of comparing the worst of ‘Their’ practice with the best of ‘Our’ theory, then we should also acknowledge that other ideologies and movements have also blundered big-time and accumulated immense blood on their (our) hands.
Liberal Democrat party
Of course the LibDem Party has its share of unscrupulous campaigners, yah-booh tribalists, ambitious conformists and potential leaders who may or may not be blackmailable by MI5 or the Party Whips, and/or backed by the CIA (who like to have ‘coming men’ and doubtless women in all the parties!). But other parties have as many, or aguably a good deal more.
Of course like many and probably like a majority of its members, we regret the LibDem’s opposition to above inflation rises in the minimal wage and disagree with the direction some like David Laws seem to wish to take the party.
Equally, we try to remain clear-sighted about the strengths and the weaknesses of other parties we are supporting tactically: for example the SNP is served by a monthly newspaper called The Scots Independent, whose masthead proclaims it as The One True Voice of Scotland! - Bollocks, dear friends, we have many voices!
Good enough rafts
No, our case for helping the Libdems (and progressive Celtic nationalists) does not rest on these parties being perfect (far from it), but merely “good enough” and capable of serving as the best realistically available raft towards a more pluralistic system that we do believe is still possible: a more caring, co-operative, participatory society less dominated by male-dominated political parties (and other male-dominated bodies such as multinationals, centralised Super-States, unaccountable Quangos, old boys networks, criminal fraternities, etc).
At a time when the millionaires have taken over the good ship Labour, why should it be so unthinkable for the millions to show equal tactical flexibility and nimbly hop aboard an alternative craft, at least until a better one can be devised?
Unconscious factors restricting many
Unfortunately both on the traditional Left and the old Right there are strong unconscious factors at work which screen out this option because “liberals” are identified as “weak”, “soggy” and “softy” people that get sneered at and picked on by the “big boys”.
Thus if the question of our relation to the LibDems is asked as a genuine question, we have given what we hope is a reasonable answer, one you may or may not agree with on its merits. But if people level the above question in a sneering spirit, then probably no rational answer will satisfy them, because they are being driven by unconscious fears of not being part of the One True Gang: “You are either With Us or Against Us!”, or “Do You Want a Beating Too?”.
Actually, the LibDems are not alone in being sneered at along these lines. Greens, pacifists, Welsh nationalists, members of ethnic minorities and people of faith are all liable to fall foul of this insecure macho “realism”, as well as many women and gays who often have the deepest understanding of how these “spells” and prohibitions work and how they can be loosened. Labour and Tory men should be advised that Doctors report no known cases of willies dropping off among first-time LibDem voters!
At all events let us unashamedly affirm that the much derided virtues of vulnerability, tolerance, open-mindedness and fairness to opponents are sources of human strength not ‘weakness’. They are also practical means of escape from the dead ends our politics will invariably run into so long as we are still subscribing to the Divide and Rule hatreds, knee-jerk suspicions and compulsive contempts which ‘the system’ runs on (which ARE ‘the system’), and which First Past the Post further entrenches.
But the LibDems didn't really oppose the war!
Guest link from Eurolegal on the Iraq War Disaster
How can I help?
How biased the voting system really is (towards Labour)
Why the LibDems need the Tories to do reasonably well
If we manage to balance the Parliament, what sort of constructive openings might follow?
Why do politicians kiss babies? – an article in support of the ‘softy community’ of our true motherland menaced by the ‘Real’ men’s gangs
Vote with a Kiss!
So what in constructive directions might we be able to go if we balance the Parliament?