Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Liberal Conspiracy: A conspiracy against Liberals?

A new website called Liberal Conspiracy has been launched. Its self-declared aim is to be the hub of something called "the liberal-left". And the site claims:

You’ll notice most of the well-known political left-of-centre bloggers are here.
What I notice reading Liberal Conspiracy's list of contributors is that there is not a single well-known Liberal Democrat blogger amongst them.

James Graham attended the launch of the site yesterday and found himself the only Lib Dem in the room. This reinforces the idea that Liberal Conspiracy is an initiative for discontented socialists, not Liberals.

It seems that the site is using the word "Liberal" in the sloppy way it is used by American right-wingers. Essentially it covers anyone who opposes them from Stalinists to moderate republicans. I cannot see anything to be gained by adopting that usage in Britain.

There are some Liberal Democrats to whom this will appeal. They are those who have their roots in the student union politics of the 1970s and 1980s. Back then the most important thing was to prove that you were not a Tory and there was a thrill to be had in finding yourself on the same side as the Trots or the Tankies. Radical policies were those which would alarm your parents. Echoes of this mind-set can be found in the Liberal Democrats to this day.

After 10 years of Labour government we should be more concerned with setting out how we differ from Labourite policies, not pretending that there is nothing that separates us.

A good example of an area where there certainly are differences between Liberals and Labourites is today's announcement that the school leaving age is effectively being raised to 18. Labourites will instinctively welcome this, seeing it as an opportunity for the state to equip teenagers with the skills and attitudes they will need to prosper. Liberal will instinctively be suspicious of the creeping authoritarianism it represents.

The more acute Liberals will also be sceptical of the ability of the state to forecast what these students will need to cope with later life and sceptical of the state's ability to deliver it where it is possible to forecast. More and more, this government seems trapped in a spiral where intervention is tried and fails, and then that failure is used as evidence that further intervention is needed.

Somehow I doubt that this is a perspective that will be expressed on Liberal Conspiracy.

I am always in favour of the discussion of political ideas, but Liberal Conspiracy's comments policy does not seem calculated to further it. It sounds more like a site where people will agree with each other - a site for agreement and mutual political grooming.

And if I am convinced that the ideas of, say, Dave Hill are the key to reviving British politics, I am hardly short of the opportunity to read them on the Guardian's Comment is Free blog.

So, Liberal Conspiracy? It looks like a conspiracy against Liberals.


Anonymous said...

Have responded Jonathan, and I do plan to address this.

Paul Linford said...

I would strongly dispute the claim that there are no Liberal Democrat supporters among the roster of LC bloggers, Jonathan.

Anonymous said...

"This reinforces the idea that Liberal Voice is an initiative for discontented socialists, not Liberals."

- Surely you mean Liberal Conspiracy?

Paul Linford, as Jonathan said, "there is not a single well-known Liberal Democrat blogger amongst them." Or can you point out a single well-known Liberal Democrat blogger among the roster?

MatGB said...

@ Anonymous (and indeed Jonathan). Both Justin McKeating and DonaldS are on my list of "bloggers that ought to be Lib Dems", and have been since before I was talked into rejoining--they're pretty much right on the same point of most political discussions as me.

There are a huge chunk of people out there that share our beliefs and vision, but aren't party members. Some of them are also the best bloggers this country has got. That Chris Dillow is integrally involved fills me with confidence.

@Jonathan directly: I don't see it as a conspiracy against liberals, I see it as a chance for liberals (and indeed Liberals) to remake the case. Show me a time in history when the Liberal tradition hasn't been a force for the Left? I'm a left leaning liberal--and I didn't start my degree until 1998, when I was far too old to get involved with the loons and firebrands.

I'm watching with caution.

Jonathan Calder said...

Anonymous: Thank you: I have corrected the posting. I shall leave Paul Linford to answer your other point. :-)

matgb: I too would like to see Liberals making their case on Liberal Conspiracy. The question is whether they will be given the chance to do so.