Tuesday, 30 December 2008

My politics

I think I should write a post at this point to outline in bold where my politics are.

This is actually a more difficult task than it sounds as I have a natural distaste for being pigeon-holed. It also seems clear to me that every position has a standardised response by which to oppose it.

Within the LibDems it seems there is a current trend for a 'libertarian' response to balance out the 'social liberal' wing which has long been a mainstay of thought in the party. Then there are the 'economic liberals', as well as various progressives, radicals, mutualists, consequentialists, positivists and objectivists - in fact other than any 'nasty' set of ideas the party is the definition of a broad church.

So long as you have the ability to reason, are reasonably open-minded and are prepared to accept the decisions of the group regarding endorsed action then really what we stand for and in defense against is open to argument and is entirely conditional on the situation to be found at that particular moment (witness our occasional controversial policy reversals on taxation, among other things). There is clearly a fluid dynamic between principle and expediency.

For me however, what a person does says more about their beliefs than anything they could say on the matter - I have a definite pragmatic streak. But I also hope to be proved right over the long run (which is why there is a swelling of pride when reviewing what we've said over recent years on subjects like the 'false prospectus' of the dodgy dossier used to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq, or regarding the path of the economy).

I wouldn't describe myself as ideological (as it is simply ridiculous to be fussy about the origin of good ideas), and I'm ambivalent about the thought of idealism (it might be nice to be perfect, but we've tried to push this many times throughout our history in it's various guises of absolutism, extremism and fundamentalism etc, but it is always eventually used to justify atrocities which are impossible to support).

So the best way to describe my political stance, if I am forced to nail my colours to the mast beyond being a liberal democrat, is as one of a 'decentraliser'. Though I recognise that this too has some negative connotations as being too one way or the other for the preference of some, if it really means what is in the word then it must reflect some kind of universal subjectivity and avoid any fixed definition.

I'm happy to listen to all opinions so long as they aren't diktats and I quite enjoy engaging in constructive debate over how to integrate and apply good ideas. I'm also not averse to a bit of digression or randomness if it has some productive value.

Now this may all resonate with the traditional liberal maxim 'everything in moderation', but I am by no means a placid moderate and nor am I a hardcore radical. Moderately radical or radically moderate perhaps, but which, if either, is neither here nor there.

Words like 'balance' and 'coherence' resonate with me far more than 'justice' or 'fairness' - because justice and fairness are the product of balance and coherence. Get the foundations right and you will be able to build from there.

What I am interested in is seeing improvements across the board, and at this time in this country the only way to achieve this is by supporting the LibDems as the vehicle for change.

Successive Labour and Conservative governments have failed even as they have evolved to become more inclusive and open. This proves (to me at least) that our intellectual tradition is sufficiently resolute and rigorous to be winning the arguments and converting our opponents.

Our record of success in continuing to grow our representation proves that the public agrees.

How long it will take is idle speculation, but surely it is only a matter of time before we do return to government.

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