Monday, July 29, 2013

Team Clegg should stop attacking their fellow Liberal Democrats

There were two forceful articles in the blogosphere today, both based in fears about Nick Clegg's strategy in general and a Telegraph article by Isabel Hardman - "Airy-fairy Lib Dems must face life outside the goldfish bowl" - in particular.

Simon Titley wrote on Liberator's blog:
Over the past year, a repeated theme of Clegg’s speeches has been the baseless accusation that many of his party’s members do not want to win or hold power, accompanied by the bogus claim that, until he became leader, the Liberal Democrats were merely a party of protest. ... Clegg even made these accusations in a speech at this June’s ALDC conference, to an audience of councillors (or ex-councillors who had lost their seats mainly due to him), who received his patronising lecture about ‘power’ in stony silence.
And Alex Marsh wrote of Hardman's article on the Social Liberal Forum site:
The post effectively deploys the Cleggtastic straw man of the perennial oppositionists. There is a lot of discursive work going on here. Activists are primarily interested in idealistic purity. Adherence to liberal values and making difficult decisions in government are mutually exclusive. Sensible policies are grown up policies. Sensible policies are the policies that Mr Clegg favours. Sensible policies are by definition therefore policies that are to the right of the views of activists. 
Indeed, Isabel’s post constructs activists as a key problem for the Liberal Democrats. The party’s attempt to maintain internal democracy long after the other major parties have rid themselves of it means that the leadership cannot simply set out whatever policies they happen to favour. Labour and Conservatives have long since removed any real power over party policy from the grassroots, activists, and party conferences. Power lies at the centre. The implication is that life would be a lot easier for the Liberal Democrat leadership if it could wrest power from the membership and shape a policy platform to its own taste, in the light of the focus group results, the triangulation and the marketing briefing.
It seems it is not the Liberal Democrat membership that needs to "adopt a more grown-up approach to policymaking".

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