Monday, November 09, 2015

So far Corbyn has not forced the Lib Dems to be a centre party

In August, as it was becoming clear that Jeremy Corbyn was going to win Labour's leadership election, I blogged about five consequences of that development.

It is early days, but the predictions I made there seem to be holding up reasonably well. One, however, needs to be revisited.

I wrote:
Whether the Liberal Democrats like it or not, they will be seen as a centre party.
But so far it hasn't turned out quite like that.

In part this is because the campaigns the Lib Dems have taken up under Tim Farron - cuts to tax credits, refugees, government surveillance - have taken up have a distinctly radical flavour. Perhaps that is inevitable when you are campaigning against the government and that government is run by the Conservatives.

But it has far more to do with the confusion that surrounds the Labour Party. So fuzzy has their image been under Corbyn that it hard to say what we would need to do to be to the left or right of them.

Yes, he has surrounded himself with Trots and Stalinists and John McDonnell, but that has not lead to clear left-wing policies.

McDonnell did reject George Osborne's 'fiscal chater', but only after he had first said the would support it.

Labour peers ducked the opportunity to reject Osborne's cuts to tax credits.

And Andy Burnham supported the government on new surveillance powers in spaniel-like terms:
It would help the future conduct of this important public debate if the House sent out the unified message today that this is neither a snooper’s charter, nor a plan for mass surveillance.
Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceIt is early days, but it may be that Corbyn's Labour Party will resemble the SNP. Its members will be convinced it is a radical, anti-austerity party even though an objective consideration to its polices paints a rather different picture.


Eddie Sammon said...

It's not happened because Tim Farron has fallen back into his comfort zone of bashing Tories. His religion also seems to affect his politics and I wouldn't usually mention it, but he clearly doesn't separate the two issues.


Iain Roberts said...

If that's Tim's comfort zone, let's hope he stays comfortable. Given what the Tories are doing and the minor detail that the Lib Dems are an opposition party, bashing the Tories is exactly what he should be doing and I don't think many in the party would disagree.

William said...

I'd argue it is because on the only issues where Tim has had any cut-through at all with the media, the party has had no choice but to oppose the Tory measures.

If we pitch as centrist, it won't be noticed for a while - as centrism occurs on mainstream issues - the very issues where the media aren't asking the Lib Dem opinion.