Friday, 15 January 2010

Just Us?

Wiki's explanation of the stages of moral development offers an interesting starting place for some discussion.

Although the question of morality and ethics is at once separate and intertwined with pragmatics I think it does offer an means of gaining insight into parts of the political mind.

Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)
1. Obedience and punishment orientation
(How can I avoid punishment?)
2. Self-interest orientation
(What's in it for me?)
Level 2 (Conventional)
3. Interpersonal accord and conformity
(Social norms)
(The good boy/good girl attitude)
4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation
(Law and order morality)
Level 3 (Post-Conventional)
5. Social contract orientation
6. Universal ethical principles
(Principled conscience)

Now without being too mean on him - I've been strong enough in the discussion - committed Leeds-based blogger Darrell Goodliffe has declared that he has resigned from the LibDems to join the Labour party.

He cites a clash of personalities and the desire to resist Conservative attacks on spending. However he also continues to repudiate Labour policy in a number of areas.

He is clearly on the side of social justice and argues he has taken a pragmatic decision in the hope of making a political difference.

But I'm both a bit disappointed for him and in him. I think he has made an decision in a pique of emotion based on expediency to try to minimise short-term losses. This is a strategic error as far as I'm concerned because it throws away any longer-term ambitions by undermining any sense of his reliability or credibile claim to principle.

Looking at the tribal embrace he has been smothered in while trying to resist tribalism I'm amazed at the apparently contradictory nature of his choice and sought to find a way to explain it (hence the above plan).

I won't go so far as to ascribe partisan characteristics to each stage precisely because that would be to sterotype, even if there are any general trends which may be identifiable. However the usefulness of the chart is in being illustrative for describing a form of progression in conscious reasoning.

Now I don't agree with linear or regular progression, but I'm of the mind that Darrell may have actually undergone a stage of regression within it - which would mark a sad day (if relatively insignificant in the wider context) for the state of political debate on the blogosphere.


Span Ows said...

IMHO he seems to have jumped the gun and doesn't really know where he stands.

I'm sure he'll have details of Labour spending cuts soon...anyone who hasn't and/or doesn't see the need really shouldn't be involved in politics at all; in fact I'm pushed to find a single good reason why anyone would want to join Labour now...even Labour are leaving Labour.

(great name though: dee good life!)

Oranjepan said...

pretty much...

I was going to make a comment about his youth and inexperience and an inability to remember the last time Labour lost power, but then I remembered how an ambitious T.Blair identified an opportunity to infiltrate an entrenched power base, so I thought maybe be more cautious - after all leadership doesn't mean to follow the crowd!

Joe Otten said...

Surely even if there is a Conservative government soon making these cuts, they will be attributable directly to Labour's massive structural deficit.

They may be a too soon under the Tories but they are Labour cuts.

Oranjepan said...

I've loaded my plate up so fully that I haven't really had an opportunity to discuss the subject of cuts.

You're right of course that there's a time lag between implementation and effect.

The trouble is when these things get mixed up with electoral logic.

Much of the credit for the percieved success of Brown's early period as chancellor must go to the reforms made by Ken Clarke after the exit from the ERM, but the political hit had already been made by then.

So if you were Alistair Darling, would you cynically build up more problems for a successor government or take a non-partisan view and do what is right now?

In a way the attitude to cuts is the reverse of the stimulus package and quantitative easing - too little will build up even bigger structural problems for later and will make the problems last much longer (ie the impact on the currency and gilts). So from the current starting point it's become a question of how much pain we are prepared to bear.

Darryl seems to have an aversion to pain and belt-tightening - I don't think he's being realistic.

On the other side the tories look like they are under the influence of ideologically-motivated 'cutters'.

So for me it's about being sharper about where exactly and why exactly any action is taken.

Both Labour and tories are far too blunt, but this raises the question: can Clegg & Cable be more surgical in identifying the malignant areas of spending?