Sam Stopp, a Labour councillor from London has written a sort of desperate plea on ‘Labour Vision‘ this week, a call for Labour’s liberals to stop abandoning the Party. One would expect the piece to include some sort of rallying cry, a strategy moving forward, a reason to stick with a hopelessly regressive, Chavez-Left that the Labour leadership has turned the party into. Instead, all we’re treated to is spectacular irony.
The title of the piece may have you shouting “Are you kidding me!!” at your screen, given which Party it comes from:
“Beware false prophets – please don’t join the Lib Dems”
– I do not recall a time in living memory when the main party of opposition had a leader who was not only lagging behind the Prime Minister’s poll numbers in a poll of who’d make the best PM, but also behind “don’t know”, without any fear of being toppled. The reason for this, is that Jeremy Corbyn is the false prophet of the UK left. A left that has embraced the false prophets of Stop The War as it refuses to condemn Russia for Syria, a left that embraced the Cuban establishment at Conference, rather than victims of the Cuban establishment (an establishment led by… a false prophet for sixty violent years). But Sam Stopp is right, history teaches us that ‘false prophets’ on the left and the right, those hinting at their leader of the working class credentials, are almost always the opposite. Castro, Chavez, Mao… all conflated their own ideological thinking onto a presumed ‘working class’ bloc (with the small matter of silencing working class dissent and banning unions). All of those mentioned, have been defended or excused by either Corbyn or his inner circle at some point. So yes, absolutely beware of false prophets, especially those leading the Labour Party.
Sam goes on to explain that we liberals have different reasons for joining the Lib Dems, but that:
“…Their reasons vary, but one common theme pervades – they’re not thinking long-term.
– Are we not? My thinking is long-term. I want a see a strong, robust defence of social liberal values and nothing short of that is acceptable. I’m quite sure that Lib Dems are not going back to their constituencies in 2020 and preparing for government. We are rebuilding & that takes time. We recognise that there are millions of social liberals in the UK without a political home, abandoned by a regressive Labour Party, and never represented by a UKIP Tory Party. A liberal party must reach out to them, for their ideas, and their thinking, to craft a centre-left narrative on immigration, on Brexit, on jobs, on houses, on foreign policy, to counter the awful shift to the right we are witnessing across the World.
You will also note, that after this complaint that we’re not thinking long-term, Stopp doesn’t provide any long-term Labour plan. But one must assume that given the Party’s completely incompetent attempt to topple Corbyn this year, Stopp either has a plan to take back control of Labour from Momentum-types who seem to have it sewn up, or alternatively, he’s willing to put Party loyalty ahead of country and allow 2020 to fall to a Tory majority in order to topple Corbyn, rendering any complaints he then has about Lib Dems propping up a Tory regime in 2010, completely irrelevant.
Of course, when mentioning how awful Libs were in government, one need not even point to the fact that Labour are gladly walking the Tories into an increased majority Downing Street in 2020, one only need mention the financial crisis and a hideously incompetent war that the previous Labour administration delivered, along with introducing the slippery slope of private NHS provisions. No Party is without its poor policy choices in government. Labour get no free pass there. Neither do Liberal Democrats.
After complaining about Libs in government, Sam says:
““But that was then, and this is now”, I can hear Labour’s leavers say. Yet the the Lib Dems’ latest incarnation as the anti-Brexit party is not a brave, new principled dawn. It is a reversion to type, whereby this rootless party of political opportunists takes up a policy position it knows it could never deliver in practice in order to take votes off the parties around it.”
– A little disingenuous. The Liberal Democrat position on Brexit is the same now as it was pre-referendum. In fact, it’s the same as it’s been for years, if not decades. Labour’s position is…. well, no one is quite sure. They don’t seem to have one. They wheel Keir Starmer out every so often, with a very confused narrative that leads to Brexiters convinced Labour’s position is to ‘frustrate the will of the British people’ whilst to Remainers, Labour’s position is to oppose the government, but support them, but oppose them, but definitely support them, but then oppose them maybe, who knows?
“In reality, there’s never been anything particularly progressive about liberal England.”
– Except, there has. Thomas Paine was a great English liberal who advocated self government & natural rights to be constitutionally protected before government is instituted. Mill was a great English liberal responsible for ‘On Liberty’, a spectacular set of essays in defence of free expression, representative government, among other liberal ideals. Gladstone’s liberals extended suffrage to a greater number of citizens than ever before. Asquith introduced old age pensions, took law-making away from the unelected Lords. Lloyd George campaigned for the a wall between church and state, and worked to provide state assistance for the blind. Liberals introduced free school meals, and National Insurance for the most vulnerable. Liberals fought for minimum wage (eventually introduced by a centre-left, liberal Labour PM), and protected unions from damaging court cases. Liberals fought against ID Cards, and oppose the Snooper’s Charter. Liberals push for Proportional Representation, and fought for same-sex marriage. Liberal values are progressive values. Corbyn-left values, are the opposite.
For me, the Liberal Democrats are right to welcome those who consider themselves social liberals from any Party, looking to help craft a liberal future for the country. Are you a social liberal who did not like the way the Party handled coalition (me neither), join and work to change that for the better. The Labour Party cannot offer that, they are not the party of social liberals. Labour is too quick to fall back into authoritarian, illiberal, and regressive thought processes, a UKIP of the left.
I have voted Labour several times in the past, but joined the Liberal Democrats because I am a social liberal, and my values – free expression, freedom of conscience, freedom of association, where we do not abandon individual liberty the moment it conflicts with socialist ideals but instead we support the former at all times – match the constitutional values of the Party. That any liberty protected by rights that I enjoy for myself, I must defend & promote for every individual across the World, with no exception. The latter of those values were considered unimportant by the Labour Party the moment it chose to empower Jeremy Corbyn… twice. A man willing to abandon basic liberty in his pursuit of befriending any hideous tyrant or group hostile to the US. We certainly shouldn’t be lectured on ‘false prophets’ by that Party.