Tuesday, 19 January 2016

New Year, New Politics?

It gets a bit wearing sometimes.  It was a narrow failure to convince fellow Liberal Democrats to stop fudging over Trident renewal.  I was watching an online feed when the vote was taken at conference.  When it was realised it was close, many changed their minds and swung behind the leadership.

Perhaps given the current Liberal Democrat situation, many would see that all this is academic.  I believe it is a sign that that party is still following opinion of what the leadership thinks will make us electable.  If one lesson from the current political landscape are to be learned it is this: say what you truly think and be genuine.  This is the situation both to the right and left of the political spectrum.  Compare the situation in the USA, where although the media coverage is going to Donald Trump, on the left it is Bernie Sanders making the running.  Neither of these individuals are pandering to political wisdom.  Agree with them or not, they are leaving their opponents behind.

One does not have to look so far afield.  Jeremy Corbyn pulled the same trick to win the Labour leadership.  I say "pulled the same trick" although in reality, the trick is that there is no trick.  Cameron, for all his flaws, is not stupid.  Hence he can get away will ill-thought out policies such as cutting support for green energy and singling out Muslim women with the threat of extradition.  He can do this because he his fulfilling his pre-election pledge of "ruling like a true Tory."

Saying "the safe thing" in order to get elected is dead and so it should be.  Outrage is more the order of the day.  That does not mean that we can now just political parties at their word.  The sin is often one of omission.  It is often far more useful to look at the areas where politicians are not talking about.  Neither the SNP nor the Conservatives are keen to talk about crisis in the energy industry.  Both are far more keen to focus on the current civil war in the Labour Party.

It is very interesting to watch the travails of Corbyn as he takes on the inertia of the British establishment.  It cannot be a surprise to him that the Labour Party has a large shared responsibility in this: after all a two party system gives a huge motivation to the largest two parties to keep things as they are.  What may be a greater surprise to those on the left is how much resistance the unions are putting up to change.  Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, has been telling anybody who listens that Trident must go ahead simply to protect his members' jobs.  Now I have heard reasons to uphold the ownership of weapons of mass destruction before, but jobs is a morally indefensible one.  I wonder how that would also square up to his offer of being the SNP's "critical friend" in Scotland, a party that speaks against austerity but does nothing but practice it at home?  I think it is safe to say that McCluskey has outed himself as being a very small 'c' conservative and regressive figure, posing as a firebrand leftie.

So that is my pledge for 2016: just say it as I see it.  It seems that it is an approach with is increasingly, although not universally catching on,

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