Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Where now for progressive Lib Dems?

This just in from the press office: Greens issue "big, open, and comprehensive offer" to Lib Dems dismayed by Nick Clegg’s support of Tories

Following Clegg’s betrayal, Liberal Democrat members are urged to “support the party of change – not the party that changes its mind all the time”

Yesterday evening's announcement of a deal between the Tories and the Lib Dems should be a wake-up call to Lib Dem supporters, said Britain’s Greens this morning – and the Greens issued a "big, open, and comprehensive offer" to Liberal Democrat members and voters to come and join the Greens and campaign for real democratic change, real action to tackle poverty, and real action on climate change.

The offer was made jointly by the Green Party of England and Wales and the Scottish Green Party. Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said:

“The Lib Dems have shown themselves to be not so much a party of change as a party of changing its mind.

“The Lib Dems have made themselves known as a party of dirty tricks in election campaigns. But now Nick Clegg has carried out the biggest Lib Dem dirty trick so far, betraying all those people who voted Lib Dem because they honestly thought it would bring about electoral reform.”
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
"This is an extraordinary decision by the Lib Dem leadership, and thousands of their activists and voters will feel heavily betrayed today. Many explicitly campaigned as the best way to keep the Tories out of power, as a party of radical change and a party of principle, and they have now been completely let down by Nick Clegg and his top team. These members and supporters did not work hard over the last weeks and months to see their party become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Tories.

"We would therefore like to make a big, open and comprehensive offer to Lib Dem supporters to come now and talk to the Greens instead. Many former Lib Dem members have already found a long-term home with the Greens, including former Lib Dem Councillors. Thousands of Lib Dems will be unable to stomach this decision to put David Cameron's Tories into power, and it's time for them to consider coming home to the Greens.

"On several crucial points we have significant common ground, ground the Tories will never concede through this Westminster stitch-up. We back true constitutional reform, not only proportional representation but also fixed-term Parliaments, a written constitution, votes at 16, limits on corporate donations to political parties, and a whole host of other measures dear to Lib Dem activists' hearts. We support a fairer taxation system too, where those on the highest incomes start to pay their fair share, something the Tories' donors will never permit them to consider. On the environment, we've stood up against a litany of climate-wrecking projects, including those which were approved by Lib Dem ministers in Scotland to the dismay of their members. We're the only political party offering an economic policy which is consistent with environmental politics.

"With the election of Caroline Lucas as the UK's first Green MP, we've shown that radical Green politics can also win popular support at all levels. We are also a truly democratic party, our members set policy in public at conference, and we can be relied on not to sell out. Above all we would never deliver power to the Tories, a party still alien and unacceptable to most Scots. This Lib Dem/Tory deal is the final confirmation that those wanting change will always be shut out by the three big parties at Westminster, and today's decision will be the death-knell for the Lib Dems here in Scotland."
I've lost count of the number of times I was told by Lib Dem activists that a Liberal-Tory coalition was impossible because it would have to go through the members, and they'd never allow it. So much for that theory.


claude said...

"I've lost count of the number of times I was told by Lib Dem activists that a Liberal-Tory coalition was impossible because it would have to go through the members, and they'd never allow it. So much for that theory."

Wise words.
They remind me, those LibDem activists, of Labour people ca.2002-2003 repeating that a war would be impossible because a 2nd resolution was absolutely crucial.

I regret voting LibDems. I had made up my mind for the Greens until around one month before the elections.
I really feel disheartened.

Say, Jim, my constituency of Bham Ladywood. What would someone like me do?
What do you do when you know the Greens aint gonna get any more than 3%.

In Brighton and Norwich and maybe a few others I'd have no hesitation...but elsewhere?

Any words of encouragement? :-)

Jim Jepps said...

Hi Claude.

Whilst I'm all for pragmatism I've always tried to vote for what I believe in as it's better to vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and actually get it!

I understand that under this system it's often the way that we end up voting for a 'realistic' option - which is why so many of us are disenfranchised by it.

However, if we think back just one general election there was 'no point' in voting Green in Brighton, Cambridge or Norwich but those votes helped turn Brighton into a winnable seat - so in the long run if you never vote for a smaller alternative they'll never be able to win the area - and it is possible.

For me though the key thing about politics is not how we passively decide who to vote for but how we are getting involved between elections.

For that reason being part of a campaigning alternative is worthwhile no matter how the votes fall in your particular area.

Jennie said...

Wish you luck with that, JimJay. This is not a Tory government, though. I have faith in our parliamentarians, and the greens are still too wedded to woo and sex negativity for me to ever join them.

Jim Jepps said...


Sex negativity? Have you seen our prostitution policy? I think you might be thinking of Caroline's personal position, not the Party's.

Also we're stripping out the woo from policy - but that's ongoing so we're far from perfect on that as yet. However, I was pleased with our science audit in the Guardian this election which was much improved due to the hard work members have put in over the last year.

weggis said...

Jim, this is not life as we know it! Let's allow it to develop before we judge. And when we do, let's not just focus on the bits we don't like.

Strategist said...

'This morning the Greens issued a "big, open, and comprehensive offer" to Liberal Democrat members and voters to come and join the Greens and campaign for real democratic change, real action to tackle poverty, and real action on climate change.'

Nice one. Real panache. Well done, Green press office.

"What do you do when you know the Greens aint gonna get any more than 3%...Any words of encouragement? :-)"

AV (assuming it even passes a referendum) sure isn't going to help the Greens much. The only straw to be clutched at is the promise of a reformed House of Lords elected by PR.

Also, I saw nothing of it in the deal, but I wonder if Clegg may take a look at PR for local govt elections in England & Wales - which would help the Green Party a lot.

"wedded to woo and sex negativity"??

Strategist said...

Whoops, posted early.

But on second thoughts, nothing re "woo and sex negativity". I rather like that remaining incomprehensible.

joe.fernwright said...

"So it looks like we're about to get a Tory - Lib Dem coalition. If you're regretting voting Lib Dem now can I just say, Clegg did tell you this was a possibility, you just didn't want to believe it."
Well me, for one, je ne regrette rien. As the Labour bullshit streamed out over the last few days, my leap of faith in voting LibDem had been that Nick Clegg was sufficiently sensible to see through the Labour Party. Not entirely faith, he was mainly responsible for getting speaker Michael Martin' fat snout out of the trough. Shame he isn't Prime Minister, but hey, no problem.

I want genuine PR myself but I wasn't too impressed by Caroline Lucas on TV Tuesday afternoon claiming that the people had voted for real change to the voting system, not AV. The conservatives want no change at all, the LibDems wanted AV and the Labour Party pretended that it wanted AV. Isn't that 95% of the people who voted? Is Caroline stupid or was this just "a convenient lie"?

I think I recognise the overclever, slightly misanthropic note of your press release. Surely Spencer isn't back?

Jim Jepps said...

Lib Dem policy is for PR, not AV. AV is the compromise they have accepted.

greenman said...

An interesting aside is what the events over the last week tell us about the current balance of power in the Labour Party. The wooing of the Lib Dems by what the media might call "progressive" elements of Labour was effectively sabotaged by the dinosaur element -Blunkett, Prescott et al. The balance in the Labour Party and the split in the coming leadership election is not a simple one between "left" and "right". It seems that outside the tiny and currently irrelevant hard left (Campaign Group/LRC etc) the politically "progressive" elements of the Labour Party - those favouring electoral and political reforms - are largely economically right wing and wedded to neo-liberal nostrums with only a smidgeon of warmed over Keynesianism adopted in the last days of Brown. The bulk of the economic "left" of the Party seem to unfortunately be dyed in the wool tribalists and opponents of political and electoral reform. Both elements, outside the real LRC left are prone to the authoritarianism we saw all too much of under both Blair and Brown.
Not an inviting environment for those elements of the shattered left sects and recalcitrant radical liberals now looking for a new home......