Thoughts of the Future…
June 8, 2015 § 2 Comments
I’ve just finished my finals, so I haven’t actually been able to write up any post-election thoughts until now. I don’t really feel I need to go through a blow-by-blow account: much of what needs to be said already has been, more eloquently, elsewhere.
That said, there are some immediate and important changes in Thoughts of Progress which I do need to discuss here. Firstly, I’m planning to start using this blog more (hopefully!). The presence of a Tory majority leads us into dangerous new political waters. We risk having the worst aspects of statism – a controlling government with extensive and oppressive powers over its citizens – with further cutbacks to the state of the worst off. Worse, a spooked Labour party is falling into line behind this agenda, already having surrendered on thousands of pounds potentially lost to some struggling families via the lowering of the benefit cap. Migrant-bashing is shooting up the political agenda with the loss of a Liberal presence in government, and surveillance and control measures are appearing faster than, apparently, anyone in the government can proofread them. We have to spend the next five years campaigning to ameliorate the worst of this, and preparing both in policy and electoral terms to get the Tories out in 2020.
Secondly, I and this blog have gained a politically partisan position that wasn’t present before: as of approximately twelve minutes after Nick Clegg resigned, I joined the Liberal Democrats. As such, this is now I guess a Lib Dem blog; I don’t this will make too much difference in content terms, except that policy proposals may be put in explicit terms of “the Lib Dems should adopt this” rather than “someone should”. I don’t feel my political leanings have otherwise changed at all – I am if anything more convinced than ever of the necessity of progressive politics, and my political sympathies for fellow progressive parties are as ever far stronger than for the regressive forces that they exist to oppose in one way or another. Nonetheless, seeing the destruction of the Liberals at the election, and with Labour feeling ever more intellectually defunct and on the verge of swinging dangerously to the right, I felt it was necessary to fight for the Lib Dems to become the party I – and others of my persuasion – can really back and vote for.
I am, from my values and my roots, both radical and liberal to the marrows of my bones. It is the focus of liberalism – namely, liberation, the drive for freedom – that I look to as a progressive compass. I am not convinced that this is the only starting point when seeking political progress, but it is the one that is by far the most intuitive to me, and one that encompasses many others. It means fighting to stop conglomerations of power, be they in the state or the private sphere, that can dominate public life. It means fighting to educate and to empower people, so they can stand on their own feet without feeling forced to conform and bend to the will of others. And it means fighting hard for a fairer and more equitable economy, because a society in which private or corporate wealth can wield the power it currently does over people’s lives cannot consider itself to be free and liberated. In fact, it means the very things that are in the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution – that the party exists to ensure that nobody is enslaved by ignorance, poverty, or conformity.
And if the Liberal Democrats as a whole are willing to rebuild and re-evaluate their relationship with those values – and to learn from where their near-fatal experiment in government went so badly wrong – then that’s a pretty damn good starting point for a party that can truly think about progress.