Saturday, 8 January 2011

In Contempt of the Liberal Democrats.


For all who feel betrayed by the Liberal Democrats, and rightly despise Nick Clegg, the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election will provide an enjoyable view of things to come - "enjoyable" in the sadistic sense as the Lib Dems crash and burn. Incidentally other opportunities to humiliate the Lib Dems and affirm the end of the "Cleggasm" include the referenda on voting reform and devolution as well as the Party Conference in September. Don't worry though I'm sure there will be plenty of demonstrations held before then! If you want to know, the next national demonstration is due to be held on January 29th. In the spirit of Christmas the Coalition has continued its attempts to sell the cuts agenda to the public. David Cameron released a New Year's message to present the cuts as necessary and not ideological. Simon Hughes "celebrated" the New Year by writing an article for The New Statesman in defence of the Lib Dems. Hughes is keen to convey the true "reality" of politics to the electorate in a patronising tissue of lies and hypocrisy.

The main argument of this stratagem is made obvious by the title "The Hard Reality of Power". Hughes argues that the Liberals remain a progressive force in politics today and is quick to remind us it was Beveridge who helped construct the welfare state. The Party's links with such great liberals should not be exploited in this way. If Hughes, along with the other members of the Beveridge Group, want to honour the memory of William Beveridge they should have voted against the rise in tuition fees - abstention is not good enough! It is evident early on, not just in the title, that Hughes views the public with disdain barely concealed by his choice of words. "Although the electorate (and, to a lesser extent, senior people in the Labour Party) did not give us the chance to form a coalition of the centre-left, which many of us had hoped for, we rose to last year's challenge" he writes. Notice in Hughes' mind it is the public who are at fault for creating a situation in which the Liberals had to forge an alliance with the Conservatives.

Hughes goes on to add that the Liberals "overcame" these problems to enter into a coalition without abandoning the commitment to "pluralist politics". It is s sick joke to imply that the Coalition is the affirmation of political pluralism. Before going on to assure himself of the Liberals' place in history Hughes repeats the party-line: "Not getting your own way on everything is the inevitable consequence of coalition." Supposedly the Liberals would like to abolish tuition fees but couldn't because of the election result. This is another way of blaming the public for the current state of affairs. These politicians have conveniently forgotten about the lies and pledges made to attain power. It is never acknowledged that the Liberals had a secret team drawing up a shadow platform before the election. The shadow platform, which is now naked for all to see, includes planks such as a u-turn on tuition fees. 2 months before the election and the Lib Dems were prepared to raise tuition fees. These facts are missing in Hughes' stratagem.

Instead Hughes flings himself from one stone to the next in hope of convincing the herd of his Party's integrity. Hughes distinguishes between a "hard reality" and a "easier world of opposition" with total disregard for the disillusionment the Party is stirring up in the public. The implicit message is that the public are fools for falling for the Lib Dems' promises. The voter should have known better than to believe that politicians are honest and have moral fibre. Of course, the average voter is well aware that politicians lie and betray pledges. Simon Hughes is only digging his party's grave by insisting that we abide such conduct. The Lib Dems have probably convinced themselves that the public is being immature and should learn to understand the nature of politics. This patronising attitude will contribute to the downfall of the Liberal Democrats over the next few years. No doubt the Liberals will have to recreate itself in order to survive.

There is No Alternative.

The political fallout of the cuts itself is potentially dangerous as the disillusionment with the Establishment is exacerbated, as it has been so often in the past around the world. The left-wing opposition to the government is just building momentum and we've already seen a resurgence of extremist politics during the recession. The widespread disillusionment is accompanied by a wave of misinformation that is aimed at leading people to believe that the country is overrun with foreigners, scroungers, drunks, promiscuous and murderous yobs. A culture of fear has been brewing for years in this country. But the economic inequalities which have produced much of the social decay and rot in society are quietly kicked under the rug. The struggle of the working-classes against elites is displaced onto rebellions against the welfare state, multiculturalism and tolerance. The lip-service of the Con-Dem Coalition to progressive change will only serve to nurture anti-politics in Britain.

Hughes is not alone in his complicity in trampling the legacy of social democrats and compared with Chris Huhne, another member of the Beveridge Group, is a less of a sycophantic shithead. Simon Hughes has accepted the role of peddling the prescription of cuts and higher tuition fees to the public - an Avon lady for Thatcherism. Over the next 6 months Hughes will be taking his sales pitch to colleges around the country. No doubt his article is part of this new found role in the Coalition. Speaking of which in the article he goes onto claim that the Lib Dems have replaced Labour as the "constructive party" of progressive politics. The grounds for this claim are that Labour is advocating a graduate tax which is no different to the higher tuition fees enacted by the Coalition. Another old trick by party hacks is to point the finger at Labour and scream "They're no better!" A fine demonstration of capitalist realism and the cynicism of the political class who can't justify their actions so they seek to discredit the Opposition. This will no doubt contribute to the disillusionment with mainstream politics.

From here Hughes points out to readers that Labour made false election promises and pledges. Stressing the Lib Dem commitment to an elected second chamber of Parliament, voting reform, localism and taking people earning less than £10k a year out of tax altogether. It is true that there is some ice-cream to be found in the bowl of dog shit the Coalition is trying to feed us. Even in regards to the education cuts and tuition fee hikes. Hughes goes on to claim that these changes are not possible without Lib Dems in government, which may be true. But it is also true that the Conservatives might not have been able to ram through the cuts and regressive taxes as a minority government. The Liberal Democrats have enabled the Conservatives to erode social democracy, the gestures left over for the Liberals to make are mostly meaningless progressive tokens - from referenda on devolution and voting to diluted control orders and opposition to ID cards.

The Thatcherite mantra of "There is no alternative" is alive and well in the last paragraph of the article. The budget deficit is also added to the list of reasons we can't have a decent government, as if he nearly forgot about it and quickly slipped it in at the end. The necessity of the cuts is implicit and Hughes tries to extend this to the Con-Dem Coalition itself "The alternative to coalition was a single-party Conservative government. I have no doubt about which I prefer." While it is true that a minority Conservative government would have been less liberal than the Coalition it would have also been less powerful. The Conservatives may have been forced to compromise by a Lib-Lab Opposition combined with the grass-roots protests to the cuts. The very presence of the Liberal Democrats in government is indicative of the poor excuse for a democratic process we have in the UK. MPs are elected and then we watch as they collude with one another to appoint each other to various roles. The seats are sold and public policy is the price.

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