Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Unholy alliance

There is an interesting aside in Andrew Marr's BBC website piece summing up this year's party conference season. Looking at the Liberal Democrats, he remarks:
There is a potential political divide in the party, between the market-orientated, anti-statist Lib Dems clustered around a volume of essays called The Orange Book, and those you might call conventional social democrats.
When I first joined the Liberal Party my radical friends were convinced that the SDP was the work of the devil. Twenty years later they are making common cause with social democrats to oppose the Orange Book tendency.

I wrote a rather hurried review of the book in the last Liberator, which I will post with my other articles on Lord Bonkers' website if I ever get my computer working properly again. My feeling was not so much that the Orange Book people are right as that those who call themselves radical Liberals are in trouble if they think their role is to be the last defenders of the 1945 settlement.

We can now see that the SDP was less an attempt to break the mould of post-war British politics than a late try at keeping it together. If today radical Liberals find themselves on the same side as the SDP, they should think more deeply.

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