Posted this to Facebook, but then thought it might as well go here too.
I’m having a lot of difficulty in discussing politics at the moment. The problem is that so often debate is polarised between two false alternatives, and actually trying to even express an opinion makes me either have to equivocate so much the point gets lost or conversely accept framings I fundamentally disagree with.
“Do you agree with the health bill?”
“Well, no, actually, I think there are various problems with…”
“Great! I’ll add you to my Save Labour’s NHS From The ConDems Who Are Destroying It petition, shall I?”
“Er, no… I think the problems with the NHS bill are precisely those areas where it’s most similar to Labour’s policy…”
“Ah, so you’re a Tory bastard who hates the poor, then?”
“No… I think the basic idea of the bill is sound, but making it compulsory for GPs to take on extra admin work, rather than optional, for example is a terrible…”
“OK! I’ll put you down for the End The Evil Postcode Lottery campaign!”
“No, I *like* the idea of localism, and people in an area deciding for themselves what their health priorities are…”
“You ARE a Tory!”
“So I’m a Tory because I trust my GP more than, say, Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust who were rated second-worst in the country and who sacked a nurse for comments related to her union activities?”
“Yes, because she was organising against a trust run by a LABOUR council”
I get so tired with that argument though, and many others like that, that I often end up just saying “Yeah, smash the evil bill”, because I do think that on the whole the health bill is a bad idea (and a missed opportunity when we could have argued earlier in the process for a genuinely liberal NHS) and I end up sounding like the worst kind of authoritarian Labourite. Either that or I just hurl abuse at the person I’m arguing with.
I suppose this is the dilemma of the Liberal throughout the ages — agreeing with Labourites about (some of) the problems but disagreeing about the solutions — but it’s put into focus more when the Lib Dems are actually in government, and working with the Tories.
(This is NOT an invitation for a debate over the health bill, for precisely the reasons above. Nor is it a dig at any particular Labour member, or indeed Tory. If you don’t argue like that, then it’s not about you.)