Liberty Central must keep liberty central

Okay, so here’s the promised post on Liberty Central. MatGB’s post last week seemed to strike a particular chord with a lot of people, me included (despite my initial nit to pick). It has a lot of potential, because it taps into the strange phenomenon whereby most bloggers — whether they’re from the left or right or whatever — seem to be liberal.

Mat posted several update posts. One thing led to another, blah-de-blah, and now hundreds of bloggers are all of a sudden rising up against Labour in a brand new “anyone-but-Labour” coalition.

It got too big too quickly, and I fear that this Liberty Central idea will falter. At the last election, don’t forget, there were at least three or four anyone-but-Labour internet campaigns. They often gave conflicting advice, and none of them got very much serious attention, apart from perhaps Backing Blair. As I recall, Backing Blair advised me to vote SNP. As if!

And that’s the thing. It’s all very well to oppose Labour, as I and the ‘coalition’ do. But does that mean we should vote for anyone but Labour? No.

A few bloggers, like Garry, Chris Applegate and myself, pointed out that voting Conservative is hardly any worse than voting Labour. Does that mean I’m going to vote Conservative at the next election though? No. I am more likely to vote Conservative than Labour, but being slightly preferable to Labour is not much for the Conservatives to shout about.

And just because Labour are so bad, does that justify voting for anybody but Labour? Of course not — Labour aren’t the only party who are kicking liberty in the nuts. All of the parties are to an extent, but some are much worse than others, and it is obvious that some are worse than Labour.

The bottom line here is that if Liberty Central is going to tell me to vote for the second-placed party in my constituency to try and boot out Labour, I am going to ignore the advice. While the SNP are pretty sound on civil liberties issues, civil liberties are not the only issues. SNP power would involve the small matter of decapitating the country, and I’m not very keen on the idea.

Liberty Central will work if it has a clear focus on issues. Apart from being anti-Labour (because there is no use supporting even supposedly “decent, honest” Labour MPs any more; they could have crossed the floor if they really cared about liberty), we needn’t think along party political lines. It ought to be a focussed campaign to persuade all political parties and advise voters as to how they might vote if they want to send a message about civil liberties.

But if the site is just going to be barking orders from the top-down along the lines of “vote SNP because they’re second in your constituency,” or “vote Conservative because they’re the largest opposition party,” as many such websites have done before, Liberty Central is going to interest few.

Please also read these posts from Jawbox and Chris Applegate.

Update: I forgot to mention, though, I that I would strongly encourage anybody with opinions to set up their own blog. As Tim Ireland points out, it is dead easy. If you don’t want to do that, get commenting!


  1. Relax, good Doctor.

    Liberty Central’s primary task will be to support the development of the new constitutional settlement for Britain – all the good stuff like a proper separation of powers, bill of rights, things like that.

    If we come to look at tactical voting it’ll be when we’re heading towards the general election in 2009/10 and quite specifically limited and targetted towards clear goals – the ideal would be a no mandate to govern result, but whether that’s realistic is yet to be seen.

    In a sense the target for the next couple of years is to try to set the agenda, put civil liberties high on it and then see how parties, MPs and candidates respond – give them time to take on board what we’re trying to achieve.

    Any recommendations on voting that do emerge will come after that and be based on evidence and commitment and run across all parties – minimum interference and only when necessary.

  2. Aye; Duncan, effectively, two separate campaigns have crystallised from my post.

    Liberty Central needs to be a positive, long term campaign. I’ll email you in a bit re another matter…

    You’re right, of course; I’m much more interested in the long term goals, but the short term tactical votes campaign will be important. For now.