Liberal Democrats and political discourse

The Liberal Democrats are pretty much the only political party I would consider voting for (well, I voted for everyone by Labour in the local elections in May because I was feeling particularly anti-Labour at the time, but you know what I mean). So the change in leadership is of interest to me.

In years gone by I would have described myself as a supporter of the Lib Dems. I guess I still am. But I’ve not been quite as enthused over the past year or so.

I’m not exactly sure what this is down to. Menzies Campbell’s time as leader of the federal party? Nicol Stephen’s rather rudderless leadership of the Scottish Lib Dems? My increasingly apathetic stance towards party politics? A bit of all three I guess. It will be interesting to see if Nick Clegg can get me to sit up.

The leadership campaign has yet again highlighted the dire nature of political discourse at the moment.

I have already seen two people interpreting the close result as evidence that the Lib Dems are deeply divided. The result was indeed impressively close, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything. Any leadership election that doesn’t see one candidate getting 100% of the votes is evidence of a divided party. It doesn’t mean anything.

All of the parties have well known divisions anyway. Blairites and Brownites in Labour, Eurosceptics in the Conservatives, gradualists and fundamentalists in the SNP. You wouldn’t expect anything else. No doubt a truly undivided party would soon enough find itself being criticised for being filled with flip-flopping robotic career politicians.

The alternative to having a leadership election is to have a coronation. In that case, everyone would throw stones at the Lib Dems for not having a leadership election. Plus, from what I gather, Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne are actually rather similar ideologically. On this basis, you’d expect a close election.

Also, the bad side of the media is never too far away when it comes to the Lib Dems. There is an interesting post at The Yorksher Gob (via MatGB) on why it was a mistake to elect Nick Clegg. He was the media’s favourite, which means they can’t wait to crucify him.

It wouldn’t surprise me if some of those predictions come to fruition. The media has an agenda against the Liberal Democrats for some reason — probably because having a third party just makes issues so damn difficult to simplify everything into their favoured ‘he says’, ‘she says’ format.

They spent years disseminating innuendos and speculations about Charles Kennedy’s drink problem. Then when the Lib Dems finally got rid of him? All of a sudden Charles Kennedy was the best leader since sliced bread, his colleagues knifed him in the back, the Lib Dems were the nasty party.

Before he became Lib Dem leader, Menzies Campbell was a well-respected ‘elder statesman’ figure. When he became leader? He was a dithering old pensioner who was practically unable to string a sentence together. Oh, and when they got rid of him on the back of relentless media criticism, once again the Lib Dems were the nasty party, unfaithful and disloyal.

It makes me despair. Tony Blair can dangerously erode our civil liberties and engage in an illegal, unjustified war that kills tens of thousands. Yet how is he presented by the media? Magical untouchable Teflon Tony! Meanwhile, Menzies Campbell was hounded out for being old.


  1. Dear Mr Stephen,

    I found your conclusion about how Blair is presented by the media amazing! The rest of your article made a lot of sense.

    “It makes me despair. Tony Blair can dangerously erode our civil liberties and engage in an illegal, unjustified war that kills tens of thousands. Yet how is he presented by the media? Magical untouchable Teflon Tony! Meanwhile, Menzies Campbell was hounded out for being old. ”

    Imho, there has NOT been an ‘illegal, unjustified war’ – it was entirely legal AND justifid. The media told you and everyone else who uses this accusation against Blair, that it was such, THEY told you. Or did it come to you in a revelation? THE PRESS are wrong, but they perpetuate the myth. Media lies resulted largely in his losing office by dint of people believing the agenda’d Independent (independent! Hah!) and other such seats of omniscience. Hardly “untouchable Teflon Tony”.

    As for the Lib Dems’ new man – Clegg – well, I think every time they use this cloning technique it loses potency. I mean, Cameron wasn’t a bad copy of Blair, but Clegg – well – he’s ‘foot in mouth’ Clegg. THAT bit of Blair, so far, the communicative part, hasn’t quite taken. Cameron the PR man has perfected that, just about.

    Wonder why they ALL go for Blair lookalikes, if he was so awful?.

    I thought the best leader the Lib Dems ever had was Ashdown, and HE couldn’t take the stresses in the end.

    And as for civil liberties fears – they are nonsense. I do not feel this loss AT ALL. Nowhere in this country, NEVER! It’s rubbish put about by the liberal intelligentsia. All society is a balance, which alters from time to time. So what? We should not have the terrors any time things need to be tightened somewhat. In fact, I might have the terrors if they weren’t. Though I’m still hard pushed to notice ANY loss of civil rights.

    If the LDs were ever in power they would see the whole picture – and once they knew how and from whom our freedoms were being threatened they’d soon change their minds and balance things acordingly. Looks like that eventuality is a non-starter though, Clegg or not.

    On the other hand, with Vincent Cable – well, HE was good.

    Missed the boat again? Probably.

  2. The problem with them is they have a great history of using certain personal details about the people they are running against to try and “discredit” them with the electorate, in the most illiberal of ways.

    So they then find it hard to have a leader that’s a drunk, or old, or likes rent boys, or who aren’t white etc.

  3. BlairSupporter,

    If the best example of an anti-Blair agenda you can come up with is The Independent — the country’s lowest-selling national daily newspaper apart from the Racing Post — then I have to say I think my point still stands.

    It’s incredible to suggest that such a meaningless newspaper could have so much power that it took Tony Blair out of office. I seem to remember he resigned of his own accord, and announced it years in advance. That’s not the way scandalised leaders normally go.

    I don’t even read The Independent anyway, I think it’s a terrible paper. Nor do I read any of the daily newspapers. Nor do I read any of the other daily newspapers, nor do I watch the television news. It is possible to become informed via means other than the MSM.

    If the LDs were ever in power they would see the whole picture – and once they knew how and from whom our freedoms were being threatened they’d soon change their minds and balance things acordingly.

    Yeah, exactly. Why not just skip the whole step and just get the Labour government to threaten our freedoms instead. That way we will save loads of time(!).


    By the way, why don’t you allow comments on your blog? I notice it with a lot of Labour supporters — either heavy-handed moderation or no comments at all. I’m curious as to why.

  4. Hi doctorvee,

    I DO allow comments at my blog. There is a link at the bottom of every page and post. Comments are monitored, but that was only as a result of the head-bangers telling us all in graphic detail what they wanted to do to Blair. I did decide after a while that I wasn’t going to accept those who were clearly very anti-Blair for the simple reason that there were so many other sites where people could vent their spleen in that way, and my blog was set up for those of us who DON’T feel like that. The first comment on my home page is from one of the regulars on Cif – goodfairy – who revels in dreams of boiling Blair in tar. That’s the only nasty I’ve left, I think, just to give the reasonable people who visit there an idea of what they’re missing. Creative writing I think they used to call it. You do it in year 3 in most primary schools.

    Well you may be right about The Independent; perhaps I’m flattering it with faint ‘praise’! But they weren’t the only paper. The Mail, the one with the greatest distribution, is, of course Tory, and just against anything that the Left-ish say. I suppose that we can expect that and you pays your money. The Indie has been singled out by such as myself, and Blair, as it sought to subject us all to their seemingly well-thought through argument, which it declared unquestionable. They were unbalanced when it came to Blair. And yet it is all highly questionable. And by their title, and at their inception, they were supposed to be a balanced broadsheet. It became an unbalanced broadsh*t, imho. And these days on the internet, all news spreads like a virus. That’s the point I was making. It’s a VIEWSpaper, that’s all.

    I just don’t recognise this loss of freedom stuff. I just don’t feel it. So I have to leave it up to you guys, whose lives are evidently so marred, to make your case. You could always send your thoughts to The Indie. They’d get it!

  5. That’s OK. But it’s interesting that you hadn’t noticed that I have a ‘Comment at end’ near the top of each page! Not too effective then?

    Hope your new man makes SOME impression. Sadly I don’t expect it. Then again, I didn’t expect much of Blair, but I think he has delivered, VERY well, in fact. (I’m not a Labour voter, btw. Would be now if he were still there).

    Though I think Blair got better as he went on, and having read so much recently on the goings-on in Downing Street over the last ten years, I understand more why he was held back.

    Nasty business at times politics, but these days I only have the occasional flash of sympathy for whasisname the present ‘sub’-prime minister. I quickly send such feelings away, where they belong, usually with a smile of schadenfreude.

    Blair always had Brown to fall back on for support in their strange love-hate relationship. Who does Brown have today? HIS chancellor?! Hmmm …

    There IS something shakespearian about it all, as many of us said there would be. I suppose the Brown vision of last summer – “is that a dagger that I see before me, the handle towards my hand?” – should have given us a clue.

  6. How relevant is this?

    Tony lied and evaded and I hope his first confession in his new faith had at least four hours set aside for it…

    But –

    Tony is now history, the stuff of memoirs –

    And –

    Face it, the Lib Dems are simply not electable. They have had good leaders in the past – I can remember as far back as Grimond- the public loved them but were damn sure they weren`t going to vote for the party. Not many lost causes can be truned around – especially in politics.