On LibDemmery

For those of you who are waiting for them, you can expect an influx of posts tonight/tomorrow. My local comic shop didn’t have any copies of Final Crisis: Superman Beyond , so I am venturing into the murky depths of Forbidden Planet. Pray for me. This means that that review will be tonight. I’ve also got the next piece on Brian Wilson halfway written, and I’ll be doing the usual Big Finish post tomorrow too.

But for now I want to talk about politics. Alix at The People’s Republic of Mortimer wrote a post yesterday which touched on some things I wanted to say about the Liberal Democrats.

I actually agree with almost everything she says – and yet I still think she’s wrong. For those of you who don’t follow this stuff, the Liberal Democrats (the party of which I am a member) recently put out a document called Make It Happen, full of pictures of Our Dear Leader looking as dishy as he can make himself, and full of very short sentences about it being ‘time for a change’.

Now, in this document, the phrase ‘ordinary families’ occurs to the point of obsession, and I absolutely agree with Ms Mortimer that the repetition of this phrase is both wildly irritating and smacks of illiberalism – what of the extraordinary? What of those who aren’t families at all?

I absolutely hate that kind of wording – I’m married, but I wouldn’t consider my wife and myself a ‘family’, we’re a couple, and I don’t think either of us would be less entitled to respect were we single – and it worries me, but I think on the whole it’s the right thing to be doing at the moment.

I didn’t vote for Nick Clegg, and I’m on the left of the party and not really keen on the Orange Bookers who currently have most of the power in the parliamentary party, some of whom seem quite eager to become a third Conservative party to go with the two we’ve already got [Edit April 2009 ignore that – I was talking crap], but one thing which almost persuaded me to vote for Clegg – and which I singled out at the time – is his ability to put liberal values into the language of the Mail and the Express without compromising those values.

I’ve argued for a while now that we need to be trying to get votes from the Tories, not from Labour, because the Tories are going to win the next election and Labour lose no matter what we do. Even did I not personally (slightly) prefer Labour to the Tories, I would still argue pragmatically that it is better for the party to have the Conservative majority be as small as possible, and so we should concentrate on winning seats in Tory marginals (the Labour marginals should fall to us anyway – they’re low-hanging fruit). If we can’t win the next election – and realistically we can’t – we can try to push for a hung parliament where we would be the balance of power.

Now, documents like Make It Happen, repulsive as I find the way they’re phrased, work perfectly for attracting Tory voters. I would like us to be able to reframe the terms of debate in this country, but right now the vast majority of people aren’t reading the Independent or Guardian – they’re reading the Mail or the Sun. If we can convince them to support liberal positions – without changing those positions, just the way they’re presented – then I think that’s a wholly good thing. Make It Happen doesn’t seem to have been aimed at me or Ms Mortimer – we’re already on-side.

It’s only if the change in rhetoric becomes a change in policy that we have to worry – and indeed I am worried about that – but the actual policies in the document make sense. I think we’ve already got most of the extraordinary on side – and with an activist base as full of bisexuals, transsexuals, poly people, goths and large men with beards as ours is, I don’t think it’s ever likely that they will not be catered to – we need to get the ordinary families on side too…

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