Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The neoliberal decay of the Lib Dems

I am pleased to report that my fellow Green Left blogger Matt Sellwood is back blogging too after an extended break. He is straight into the fray arguing for a distinctive left wing approach in the Green Party of England and Wales.

Ex Green Party member and now economically right wing Lib Dem Joe Otten has weighed in with a ranting comment on Matt's blog that shows how far to the right Otten and the Lib Dems are drifting. This orange Thatcherite cannot see the difference between Leninist Revolutionaries, bureaucratic old labour and the democratic socialists in the Green Party. This is a sad commentary on the political illiteracy of the new wave of young "Orange Book" Liberal Democrats taking their party in the direction of the right-wing free-market fundamentalism of their European counterpart parties. It is no surprise that a Daily Telegraph editorial of this week fully approved of this drift, urging them to dump the residual social democrats in the party and elect neo-liberal Blair/Cameron sound-alike Nick Clegg as their next leader. Having seen some of the "new breed" of Lib Dems in action in the recent election I can say that the people some of them remind me of most are the FCS (Federation of Conservative Students) ideologues of the 1980s. Their cocky self confidence and arrogance is matched only by the viciousness and duplicity of the tactics the Lib Dems are now centrally directed to use in elections and by-elections. Dodgy bar charts, false claims of "two horse races", personal attacks on other candidates' integrity, all are fair play as far as the young tory-boys and girls of the Liberal Democrat ascendancy are concerned.

Surely it is only a matter of time before those centrist and left voters who have taken to voting Lib Dem in the face of authoritarian neo-con Labour catch on to the fact that the new breed of Lib Dems look very much like the despised Old Tories, and share their religious belief in the infalibility of the sacred market. The fig leaf of social liberalism (which some Orange Bookers seem to have as a secondary target after discarding economic social democracy)is not enough to cover the market fundamentalism that is de rigeur in increasingly influential sections of Otten's party. It will be interesting to see if the social democratic elements in the Lib Dems strip away to Brown's Labour Party if he deploys social democratic rhetoric in feigning a clear break with Blairism (I say feigning as Brown was one of the key architects of Blairism, but that is another debate) He might have to neutralise the Iraq issue first of course!

This all creates yet more political space for the Greens, who are more in tune with the majority of voters who oppose further ideologically driven privatisations and surrenders to big corporations and would like to see democratic control re-established over vital national infrastructure like the railways, health services and education.

An interesting aside is that yet again my prediction that a return to 19th Century political positions is coming about in Britain has been confirmed by this Telegraph 'kite flying'. The Telegraph was originally, before its' many years of right-wing Toryism, the paper of Gladstonian classical liberalism. The Tories meanwhile, (at least on the surface) are returning from Thatcherite classical liberalism to the reactionary protectionism and paternalism of many of their 19th century predecessors.

Interesting times ahead.

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At 9:02 pm, Blogger Joe Otten said...

I consider this an insult, of course, but you are entitled to your view.

If anyone is interested in what I actually say about the Orange book, and what it actually contains, see here.


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