Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Are the Lib Dems afraid of asking themselves searching questions?

Back in 2018 I wrote a post under the title Forget “the Lib Dem family”: Let’s have proper leadership elections.

I thought of it yesterday when I read an article on Liberal Democrat Voice. It was about the Liberal Reform hustings and celebrated the fact that it had revealed few policy differences between Ed Davey and Layla Moran.

It went on to wish that the leadership contest were over and warn the party against bickering.

Given the collapse in Liberal Democrat fortunes at Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff and in local government over the past decade, you may have hoped that the contest would see passionate debate about what we should do differently in future and why our policies are attracting so few voters.

If you did hope that, you will have been largely disappointed if this has been typical of the current contest.

But then we rarely do have such fundamental debates. As my 2018 post here concluded:

It looks to me as though we Lib Dems are too scared of rocking the boat to have really informative leadership elections.

Some like to talk of the “Lib Dem family,” but in my experience happy families are those that can have lively discussions, even rows, and make their peace afterwards.

We Lib Dems, by contrast, resemble an unhappy family where everyone is sat around the dining table on their best behaviour and terrified of saying the wrong thing.

So "Steady as she goes" it is.

1 comment:

Phil Beesley said...

Lib Dem policy makers aren't even spotting the obvious stuff like the massive UK 'private state'.

Government has passed law and judicial functions to private companies running prisons and probation services. Private companies are contracted to assess whether a citizen qualifies for disability benefits -- and to apply financial sanctions if citizens are alleged to have broken rules.

In the Covid-19 crisis, government has handed out contracts to big consultancy outfits for services that they have never previously performed and for which they have been demonstrably useless (personal testing, contact tracing). They got the contracts because government has a fear of increasing the role of local service providers, increasing government payroll. And government -- including the honest thinkers who aren't trying to line their own pockets in the future -- don't recognise the peril of building up the 'private state'.

Then there's the traditional meat and veg tales of Private Eye -- mismanagement of contracts with the big consultancies or defence contractors, the revolving doors for ministers, civil servants and PR merchants. PFI, of course, although I suppose that public sector hire purchase deals have a different name now.

If Lib Dems need new ideas, I suggest learning about how so many 'public services' are provided.