Saturday, 19 September 2015
A wind for change
The late great Richard Wainwright, doyen of Yorkshire Liberalism and Liberal MP for the Colne Valley 1966-70 and 1974 - 1987, compared politics to sailing. You could be in the Doldrums for ages, seeming to be getting nowhere, but when "the wind" came along, you needed to be alert to catch it and forge ahead.
Jeremy Corbyn has released a wind for change and, rather than catching it, our Liberal Democrat leaders seem poised to miss it. An article in today's Guardian headlined "Cable: Lib Dems and moderate Labour can take centre ground" reports Vince Cable himself, and fellow ex-coalition ministers Ed Davey and Norman Lamb, all urging that we unite with "moderate" Labour MPs unsettled by Corbyn's victory in order to occupy the "vast space space between Cameron and Corbyn."
This is completely to ignore the reasons for the Corbyn victory. To me it signifies a desire for an end to triangulation, timid moderation, the unfairness of making the poorest pay for the errors of the financial sector, dogmatic privatisations, and craven fear of doing anything that might frighten the bankers or upset the rich.
It is call for a challenge to the " market forces rule OK" Establishment dogma (as described in the previous post) and for genuinely radical change.
On the letters page of the same Guardian is a selection of indignant protests from Liberal Democrat activists (including one from me) pointing out to our leadership that we "have had enough of the party establishment seeking equidistance. We are a left-leaning party of the centre left."
I hope Tim reads these and recognises his isolation from the main-stream of the party before he delivers his speech tonight. If not I fear we shall hear denigration of the"hard left" (only "hard" because the centre has moved so far to the right), siren calls to worried Labour MPs to join us in the centre and a recipe for decades in the wilderness.
There is a danger that Corbyn's wind may not blow for very long - Gleggmania barely lasted a week - but while it does last we need to identify ourselves with it with a profound "me too" for those of his policies which overlap with ours: economic expansion rather than damaging austerity to reduce the deficit; non-replacement of Trident (I hope), fairer taxation, a social security net that treats people with dignity; house building; green energy, constitutional reform; and a humane attitude to refugees and the many still poverty-stricken nations.