Saturday, 18 September 2010

The Life and Soul of the Party Dies...

Okay, that title is misleading, It's just another example of me trying to get as many Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine songs into my stuff as I can!

However, I'm at Lib Dem Federal Conference 2010 and there are important matters to be sorted out. Not the crap that the press would have you believe about left/right, progressive/radical or any other such arbitrary construct put up by a media bereft of any anchor points for their turgid prose or indeed any ability to think beyond their proprietors prejudices.

Lib Dems have been comfortable with the idea of coalition for decades, because we are after all a party of coalition and democracy. If you really need to be led by the nose, the clue is in the title of our conference. It is a "Federal" conference. Independent local parties agree a platform of government voted for by members. It is our weakness... but it is also our strength.

A good example is that I am not a "social democrat". I am not progressive in the way that the Guardian tries to portray Lib Dems members and neither do we recognise a split between social democrats and "orange book" liberalism. I was reminded of this when a survey aimed at Lib Dems asked the question about whether the state should intervene as though it was a black and whte answer. For me, the correct answer is "sometimes". Some of my colleagues are Guardian reading progressives and may have a stronger opinion on the answer but do you know what? We are all comfortable with that because our common bond is not the trite politics played out in the press who have no ability to comprehend that life isn't black and white as they try to bash their understanding of politics into a pantomime script.

It's why you'll find the media outside their comfort zone this conference, desperate to get an angle and eager to find "splits". If they had any brains they'd know that they were barking up the wrong tree. They are ignoring the really question that is being fought out this conference. Is national politics important or should we be concentrating on local government?

There are many people associated with the national organisation, the MPs, Cowley Street and the campaigns department who believe that the pursuit of parliamentary power is the be all and end all. There are others who believe that grass roots activism and the localism agenda is best fought through local governmet.

The question Lib Dems have to ask themsleves locally and nationally is: "Do you want to be the awkward squad or do you want to make a difference?" If you want to be a prty of opposition, join the Greens or Labour. If you want to actually do something, have the courage of your convictions. I have no time for people who do not want responsibility and cling to student debating society politics or some everything or nothing notion of politics, It doesn't happen in real life, so to demand it in government shows an immature grasp of politics. I will say it here to avoid anyconfusion. There are many things that the coalition is doing that make me wince. but there are many more that make me think: "We did that."

The bottom line has to be get your hands dirty or ship out.

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