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"Who knows Clegg?" they would say.
April 19, 2010 5:46 AM   Subscribe

"Make no mistake, if the Liberal Democrats actually won the election – or held the balance of power – it would be the first time in decades that Murdoch was locked out of British politics." - David Yelland, former editor of Rupert Murdoch's The Sun, writes in The Guardian.

"In so many ways, a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote against Murdoch and the media elite."
posted by memebake (62 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whether the Liberal Democrats actually have a realistic chance of power, whether directly or by holding the balance of it, depends entirely on Clegg's performance in the next two debates.

I'm a university student here, and among the political students here the consensus view among supporters of all three major parties was that the huge polling boost the Lib Dems received would dissipate over the following days. That was my view too — as it turns out, we were all wrong, and it's actually been sustained. The papers who (as this article states) have thrown their not inconsiderable weight behind David Cameron's Conservative party are now panicking (as are Labour and the Conservatives) and all sorts of hilarious slurs abound; the nationality of Clegg's wife, his past as an EU official — I even read a piece today in the Telegraph (also known as the Torygraph) that served only to point out that Clegg attended a private school.

If Clegg can maintain or even better his performance — and I believe he well might — election night is going to be even more interesting that I thought.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 6:08 AM on April 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


If the Lib Dem support holds for this week, then it will be enough votes against the Torys to prevent them from reaching a majority, which for me is very important. While I have no love for New Labour, I hate the Torys even more, and seeing some of the Lib Dems sensible policies and the chance of electoral reform makes the Lib Dems too good to pass up.

I just hope the Lib Dems aren't attacked too well this week, especially on Europe and foreign policy.
posted by tumples at 6:10 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Printed in the Grauniad. Wishful thinking, perhaps?
posted by chavenet at 6:17 AM on April 19, 2010


Was the Torygraph piece this one?
It's a bizarre turnaround, but given the FPTP system it's hard to see how the Libdems will capitalise on Clegg's good showing in that first debate.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 6:20 AM on April 19, 2010


Regarding the linked article: it's not like Murdoch won't be able to wheedle his way back in to a position of influence though, right?

Whether the Liberal Democrats actually have a realistic chance of power, whether directly or by holding the balance of it, depends entirely on Clegg's performance in the next two debates.

Yep, and the other two parties won't be so complacent about him next time. I expect him to have a tougher time of it. Still, the election just got interesting!
posted by Life at Boulton Wynfevers at 6:25 AM on April 19, 2010


Indeed – a lot more interesting.

From the same 'paper: Has Nick Clegg Experienced His 'Iowa Moment'?

Some interesting figures including: In 1951, only 2% of voters chose someone other than Labour or the Conservatives. At the last general election, it was 32%.

My argument against the Tories* is that, having been equally mired in the expenses scandal and having lots of previous from the last time they were in power, they are not an alternative to the current government for anyone who is angry at politicians and the political system and wants change.

That they are getting so much support from the press just shows that nothing is really changing there but I'm becoming pleasantly surprised that a lot of voters seem to be seeing through the whole charade.

The mudslinging will no doubt be reaching swift boat proportions in the run up to the election but the old 'nothing will get done with a hung parliament' argument is losing strength as people realise that it won't be any worse than what we've had recently.

*There are, of course many many more ;-)
posted by i_cola at 6:29 AM on April 19, 2010


Murdoch is busy turning himself into the shadow President of the United States via the Tea Party, so he might not even notice if he's no longer the ruler of Britain.
posted by briank at 6:30 AM on April 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Well, if they hold the "balance of power" - by which I'm assuming Yelland means they form the minor party of a coalition in a hung parliament - Murdoch wouldn't be "locked out".

If the Liberal Democrats pull off the most amazing electoral victory of anywhere, ever, then Murdoch would be "locked out" only if we assume that a party that would (presumably) hold a very slim lead; that is ill-prepared for government1 and that under Clegg has proven itself to be a pragmatic party with a strong belief in the free market and privatisation2 would not entertain or talk to the biggest media group in the country.

For a man who edited The Sun, Yelland has pleasingly maintained his innocence.

1 No slur, just they'd be elected with an overwhelming number of new MPs and with nobody who has any experience of any ministerial post ever
2 Again, no slur, that's what the Lib Dem Orange Book (joint) authored by Nick Clegg is all about. He's hardly the liberal messiah sent to redeem us.
posted by Hartster at 6:39 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just hope the Lib Dems aren't attacked too well this week, especially on Europe and foreign policy.

I hope they are, and that they fend them off. The best way to gain stature in politics is to be able to deflect the attacks of your opponents. If Labour and Tory go all out against Clegg and it bounces off, then everyone starts thinking "You know, he'd not be a bad PM, look how he handled that...."
posted by eriko at 6:40 AM on April 19, 2010


Color me impressed. Murdoch's properties are pervasive as hell in the UK -- even moreso than Fox News in the US.

That said, the differences between the parties in the UK versus the divide in the US is striking (and hilarious). The Tories (conservatives) are painting themselves as champions of gay rights and the NHS in order to garner votes.

The Lib Dems are actually slightly to the right of the Tories on a few issues. Their historical reputation for level-headedness and centrism appears to be paying off in this election cycle.
posted by schmod at 6:42 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just hope the Lib Dems aren't attacked too well this week, especially on Europe and foreign policy.

I think Clegg's reaction to this may well be something in the lines of "Bring it on!". Cameron has never paid much attention to foreign policy, and is pretty ignorant of how it works. On the other hand, foreign policy is pretty much in Clegg's blood (in more ways than one).

Here's how the debate could run:

Cameron: "He wants to sell us off to the EU."
Clegg: "I think that further engagement with the EU will be beneficial to Britain, and here's why: jobs, trade, peace, and British influence elsewhere"
Cameron: "Humbug! He was an EU bureaucrat."
Clegg: "Aide to a Tory commissioner, as a matter of fact. Leon Brittan. Do you have anything against him, or Chris Patten, who was my wife's boss?"
Cameron: "Er, no, nothing at all. Of course not. Capital chaps, both of them. But you also want to give up our nuclear deterrent!"
Clegg: "No. I want to have something cheaper, and I think it's a good idea, considering our other priorites, like ensuring public services, or making sure that our troops in Afghanistan get suitable body armour, to keep spending billions on keeping a couple of subs on station in the Mid Atlantic, to occasionally crash with their French counterparts, just because you want to be able to nuke China in 2035, Dave."
posted by Skeptic at 6:43 AM on April 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


The Lib Dems are actually slightly to the right of the Tories on a few issues.

Really? I'm vaguely aware that the LibDems aren't quite as woolly and leftish as they're sometimes made out to be. Their counterparts in Germany, for example, are usually in coalition with the CDU and in the Netherlands their fellow members of Liberal International, the VVD, are the largest right-wing political party.

I'm quite interested to know what these policies are though...
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 6:51 AM on April 19, 2010


The only reason the Lib Dems have never sold out is because no-one is buying. Clegg and Cable are out of the same neo-liberal mould as the rest of the contenders and will be available to the usual bidders should they get their day in the Sun. Given the Liberal's long-standing practice of being all things to all men, I wouldn't expect any of their vaunted civil libertarian credentials to survive any kind of challenge either.
posted by Abiezer at 6:56 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Murdoch, obvs! Finally the US, the UK and Australia politics make perfect sense.
posted by DU at 6:59 AM on April 19, 2010


And Clegg wants to repeal the Digital Economy Bill as well? Fucking hell. It'll be really weird if something good happens in UK politics - or even just something not completely grim.
posted by Artw at 7:08 AM on April 19, 2010




Hasten to add that 'orrible 'sewing' typo is [sic].
posted by Abiezer at 7:11 AM on April 19, 2010


Abiezer, what about quoting the actual "Spectator" interview (selectively) quoted in that "Grauniad" article?

Age, he claims, has taught him the point of Lady Thatcher. And, indeed, he now seems to see her as something of an inspiration. ‘I’m 43 now. I was at university at the height of the Thatcher revolution and I recognise now something I did not at the time: that her victory over a vested interest, the trade unions, was immensely significant. I don’t want to be churlish: that was an immensely important visceral battle for how Britain is governed. And what has now happened to the British economy? It has gone belly-up because, once again, we have allowed a vested interest to run riot.’ He is talking, of course, about the banks. ‘They represent a vested interest. This is what I sometimes don’t understand about the Cameron-Osborne act. A real liberal believes in genuine competition, a genuine level playing field and he is unremittingly hostile to vested interests.’ As Thatcher was to Scargill, so Mr Clegg intends to be to the banks. ‘What I find so striking is that the spirit — dare I say it — of the battle against the dominance of one vested interest, the trade unions, is exactly the same spirit we need now.’

Sort of changes the whole sense of the quote, don't you think?
posted by Skeptic at 7:17 AM on April 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Clegg, in that Spectator interview: I was at university at the height of the Thatcher revolution and I recognise now something I did not at the time: that her victory over a vested interest, the trade unions, was immensely significant

Hang on. So the interests of millions of working class Britons are somehow "vested" yet the interests of Thatcher, her capitalist backers and the likes of Rupert Murdoch, whose aim was to ultimately destroy any semblance of working class power, are somehow not "vested interests"?

Fuck that noise.
posted by Len at 7:27 AM on April 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


And to expand on that: isn't "vested" most commonly used when talking about holding stock? Because I don't think many of the 3 million unemployed in the early 1980s, nor the residents of hundreds of pit towns destroyed by Thatcher, were very "vested" at all. Certainly not in comparison to Lloyds Names, Good old Rupe, or anyone else.

Clegg's attacking the banks not because he should, but because it's a popular tack to take at the moment. If he could get more mileage out of saying that Britain needed to be an economic world leader whose job it was to be financially innovative and competitive by allowing banks the leeway to be daring, he'd be doing that instead.
posted by Len at 7:34 AM on April 19, 2010


Len, I think that you'll find out that a lot of people consider that, especially during the late '70s and early '80s, the interests of the trade unions != the interests of millions of working class Britons. (Just like today the interests of banks != the interests of middle and upper class Britons, conservative "Spectator" readers included).

I think that's what Clegg
posted by Skeptic at 7:36 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can someone give me a rundown of the differences between the Lib-Dems and the other two parties?
posted by empath at 7:37 AM on April 19, 2010


Sort of changes the whole sense of the quote, don't you think?
Not in the slightest; in fact your expanded quote only highlights his failure to understand the connection between the interests Thatcher attacked and what he sees as the 'brutality' of her legacy. Len has summed my feelings on that up nicely.
Whatever government gets in, we're going to see a further assault on our hard-won public services; while there's little to choose between the major parties, Clegg with his background and instincts would prosecute that in an even more damaging way than Labour will, in my view.
posted by Abiezer at 7:38 AM on April 19, 2010


Here's the BBC's take on where the big three parties stand.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 7:49 AM on April 19, 2010


Skeptic: Len, I think that you'll find out that a lot of people consider that, especially during the late '70s and early '80s, the interests of the trade unions != the interests of millions of working class Britons. (Just like today the interests of banks != the interests of middle and upper class Britons, conservative "Spectator" readers included).

Whether the interests of the trade unions were the same as the interests of the working class or not – and I'd argue that for the most part they were; we may have to agree to disagree here – my problem with that quote was much more about the fact that Clegg completely failed to acknowledge – or deliberately denied – the fact that what the trade unions were fighting against most certainly were vested interests.

This idea that the market is not somehow a vested interest is a pernicious, heavily-promoted fiction that handily allows those at the top and in control to brush off any claim that it has a responsibility to anyone other than shareholders. Which they mostly do by claiming that anyone who disagrees with them is a "vested interest" out to grab an unearned slice of the pie and hold them back for their own nefarious purposes. Of course the interests of the banks are not the same as the interests of the middle and upper classes; the only interests the banks have is in the banks and how much money they can make. But to pretend that they're not ideological in and of themselves because of some bullshit "free hand" argument is a bit of bald sophistry that has been screwing this country for decades.
posted by Len at 7:49 AM on April 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


For anyone interested in the intersection of the media and politicians, I can recommend "The Rise of Political Lying" and "The Triumph of the Political Class", both by Peter Oborne. Both a few years behind events now, but still worth a read.
posted by djgh at 8:01 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]




Sorry, it's not overly relevant here, but I get so sick of people who rant against a party based on what they did X years ago.

Ranting Labour vs Tory based on 15 or 30 years ago is bloody pointless when both parties have more in common with each other than they have with themselves back then.

I really wish people would voted based on what a party could do for them now rather than doing what their parents did...
posted by twine42 at 8:20 AM on April 19, 2010


It is possible the debate could indeed make a big difference. It reminds me of the early 1990s in British Columbia when the political landscape was essentially two-part: a moderate/left social democratic party and a right-wing/populist party which had been in office for most of the previous 50 years. The third party, the Liberals, had one seat. At the televised debate, their leader followed a bit of squabbling between the big parties with the comment to the viewer "this is why nothing gets done in the capital".

On the strength of that one sound bite the Liberals went from 1 seat to 17 seats and formed the official opposition.

Of course, the story doesn't end well: the Liberal party itself then got taken over by the rump of the populist party, who eventually regained power, have governed one of those right wing "efficiency" governments (cut taxes, put yourself in a financial hole, then cut services because you have to not because (god forbid) you want to), and look set to govern indefinitely. And we're back to a two party system with a high degree of nastiness.

So it's possible Clegg's performance will make a real difference and that they will rise dramatically in number of seats. It's also possible it will make no difference whatsoever.
posted by Rumple at 8:20 AM on April 19, 2010


Clegg-hai! Clegg-hai!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:28 AM on April 19, 2010


I agree with Norman Clegg
posted by Grangousier at 8:46 AM on April 19, 2010


VOTE SCOTTISH SOCIALIST !
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:48 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clegnut.

And in case you're wondering, yes, I am nine years old.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:10 AM on April 19, 2010




Vince Cable Is Right About Everything ... they should use this for the PPB
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:15 AM on April 19, 2010


"Vince Cable Is Right About Everything ... they should use this for the PPB"

They really shouldn't.
posted by jaduncan at 9:27 AM on April 19, 2010


"We now live in an era when very serious men and women stay out of politics because our national discourse is conducted by populists with no interest in politics whatsoever."


Boy, that sounds familiar. It looks like many countries have the same sort of problems right now.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:34 AM on April 19, 2010


Haven't read the article yet, but that quotation alone would be good enough to get me to vote Lib Dem. ...well, if I could verify its premise & if I could vote in Britain, anyway.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:56 AM on April 19, 2010


Well, here's hoping that no-one tries to influence the Murdoch Owned (and extremely influential) YouGov poll to make the LibDems appear less popular than they actually are.
posted by seanyboy at 10:02 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that dodgy YouGov poll has now been picked up by The Guardian:
Mystery YouGov poll looks for Nick Clegg's weaknesses
"Telephone survey for unnamed client has brought objections from Liberal Democrats about loaded questions"
posted by memebake at 11:27 AM on April 19, 2010


Whatever government gets in, we're going to see a further assault on our hard-won public services

The fact that you guys are rapidly headed for financial meltdown seems to have escaped you? You guys are in even worse shape than the US, financially, although the US will start catching up in about ten years. Your public finances are a disaster, and your 'hard-won public services" are being extracted from your children, who will be responsible for paying off the massive debt you've incurred for your present-day comforts.

Tax and spend policies become wealth-destructive after a certain point; borrow and spend policies, when you're borrowing for consumption items, rather than capital investments, are always wealth-destructive. And you've destroyed a ridiculous amount of wealth providing services that you can't afford.
posted by Malor at 11:28 AM on April 19, 2010


I was going to vote in this election, but apparently British Citizens who haven't resided in the motherland in more than 15 years (and haven't been registered ever) can't vote.

Boooooooo-urns!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:42 AM on April 19, 2010


> "The fact that you guys are rapidly headed for financial meltdown seems to have escaped you? You guys are in even worse shape than the US, financially, although the US will start catching up in about ten years. Your public finances are a disaster, and your 'hard-won public services" are being extracted from your children, who will be responsible for paying off the massive debt you've incurred for your present-day comforts."

British people have a high endurance for hard times (do you think we came out of WWII with plentiful resources? We were rationing long after the rest of Europe), and those public services are a result of social instability, not the path to them. As a whole, the US might be "ten years" ahead of the UK financially, but in a lot of parts people have been suffering economically for a lot longer. I live in California now, but a year and a half ago I lived in Bristol. I'm pretty sure the latter will come through the next decade stronger than the former.
posted by saturnine at 1:59 PM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


England is just like California, in that it's trying to live beyond its means, spending more than it takes in through taxes and deferring the problem. You guys, just like California, are deliberately fucking up your own collective future to have some creature comforts now. California got pulled up short and is being forced to deal with reality, even though it's still desperately trying to ignore the problem. England, having a central bank and the ability to issue currency, can probably keep digging for quite awhile yet before its particular hole collapses.

Spending more than you make for long enough will ruin you, unless you're using that borrowing for investment that pays off at a higher rate than your borrowing costs. And even if you are, the larger your debt position, the more vulnerable you are to economic upset. This is true no matter what size entity you happen to be.

Watching anyone crow about 'hard-won social services' in the face of that kind of debt load is faintly nauseating. Those aren't social services you "won", those are social services you stole, forcing the people who come after you to pay for your comforts today.

If you ran a balanced budget and didn't have a significant debt position, my criticism would be quite muted; I'd simply observe that you were trading away economic growth for present consumption, and leave it at that. But, instead, you want to eat the lobster thermidor and send the bill to your grandkids, who will have no way to avoid paying the debt without experiencing terrible consequences. As a society, I don't think there are very many things you can do that are more irresponsible and selfish.
posted by Malor at 3:17 PM on April 19, 2010


You know, I'm not sure I can put much credence into your analysis if you can't get the name of the country right.
posted by Grangousier at 3:59 PM on April 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Malor: Watching anyone crow about 'hard-won social services' in the face of that kind of debt load is faintly nauseating. Those aren't social services you "won", those are social services you stole, forcing the people who come after you to pay for your comforts today.

"Crowing"? "nauseating"? "stole"? You know what? FUCK THAT. These are essential services we're talking about here. Social care for people unable to care for themselves. A health service which doesn't bankrupt you for falling off your bike and breaking an arm and a leg, and doesn't charge you at point of care, totting up the bills to present to you as they go along. Incapacity and disability benefit for people who've had a brick wall collapse on them at work. Legal aid for that same person to take their negligent employer to court and get their deserved compensation. Social work services for children in dangerous situations. Unemployment benefit for people who lose their jobs and can't get another.

And don't come all that shit about people wanting to eat lobster thermidor and fuck their grandkids, they can pay for it. It's as fundamentally dishonest as jibes about welfare queens and Cadillacs, and I refuse to believe you're dumb enough not to know that, which makes it a bullshit, bad faith argument.

And you're very conveniently overlooking the glaring difference between the UK and California: if the UK governement want to raise taxes, they can go ahead and do it; the sitting government doesn't need a public ballot to pass tax raises. I suspect you know that too.

Are there problems with the budget and the deficit? Surely there are. But if you're going to argue on what they might be, at least credit the rest of us with the intelligence not to be fooled by specious bullshit that shifts all the blame on to the welfare state and lays none of it at the feet of the tax-dodging, politically influential financial industries, who have done more to fuck over this country's ordinary citizens in the past 30 years than an army of single mothers on state benefits ever could.
posted by Len at 4:10 PM on April 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


We did win those social services, Malor. We won them after more than one hundred years of struggle by the labour movement against people exactly like you -- people representing the privileged classes. People like you told us that ending the slave trade and stopping child labour was an indulgence we could ill afford that would lead to Britain's economic downfall. People like you told us, decade in and decade out, that striking for meagre improvements in pay and conditions would send the company under, would put us all out of work, would bankrupt Britain. People like you told us that stopping the use of white phosphorus in match factories or improving safety conditions in mines would make British industry uneconomic. People like you told us that the 40-hour work week was the height of self-indulgence that would drive the UK into poverty.

You see, this isn't new, Malor. People like you have been saying the sky would fall in whenever the labour movement has pressed for improvements in social conditions. But we pressed for it anyway, and now we've got living wages, decent healthcare, public education and minimal old-age pensions. We're not giving them up. If you want to cut spending, let's start at the other end of town and reduce Britain's dramatic gap between rich and poor by introducing a more progressive wealth tax. That's where the lobster thermidor is really being eaten.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:11 PM on April 19, 2010 [18 favorites]


[Comment removed. If you want to tell someone you think their ideas are bad, that's fine, but find a way to do it without resorting to bottom-of-the-barrel name-calling.]
posted by cortex at 6:52 PM on April 19, 2010


Watching anyone crow about 'hard-won social services' in the face of that kind of debt load is faintly nauseating. Those aren't social services you "won", those are social services you stole, forcing the people who come after you to pay for your comforts today.
I know they're hard-won because I'm the son and grandson of the women and men who did the fighting and the paying - both figuratively in political battles and literally overseas in the wars that finally embarrassed our venal ruling classes into making the few concessions we gained.
Still, thanks for the alternative history fantasy and the chuckle. Sorry about putting you off yer tea.
posted by Abiezer at 7:17 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


But you are not paying for it. You are allowing your government to run up debt to an astonishing degree instead. You are living in fiction. Raise your goddamn taxes NOW and FIX the damn problem. Pay your own goddamn way NOW, don't borrow and make your kids pay your way.

You are irresponsible as FUCK, and calling me 'the representative of the privileged classes' is bullshit beyond measure. I'm no more privileged than you are, I just believe in paying for what you fucking use. It is completely irresponsible to run a welfare state with a structural deficit. You aren't spending your money, you are spending that of your children. What will they use for THEIR care, when they're paying off YOUR goddamn consumption? You're insisting on a certain standard of living for everyone, but you are not paying for it. That is irresponsible beyond measure, and I'm appalled that people actually believe your bullshit.

Like I said, my criticism would be very muted if you actually funded your social services, instead of borrowing to fund them. National borrowing isn't like personal borrowing. On a personal level, if you're in debt and die, your creditors can grab your assets, and it's done. There's no recourse against your offspring. But national debt isn't like that, it's payable by everyone in society, even people who weren't alive when you took the debt on. You can't escape it, you have to repay it. Failing to repay debt at a national level has dire consequences, and the various dodges used to try to defraud creditors, like printing money, cause problems even worse than just defaulting.

You are dooming your children to a lower standard of llving than you had, because you refuse to face reality and actually pay for what you use. Either raise the damn taxes or cut your spending, full stop. Step up and FIX the problem, and do it now. If you want to spend that much on services, that's fine, do whatever you want, just fucking PAY for them.

What you're doing now is grossly irresponsible, and threatens the existence of your nation over the long term.
posted by Malor at 8:13 PM on April 19, 2010


Malor, you're just derailing the thread with axe grinding at this point.
posted by empath at 8:20 PM on April 19, 2010


Malor, I didn't see anyone refusing to raise taxes in the above comments. In fact, I'm willing to bet money that posters like Len, Abiezer, and don'tjumplarry would really support raising taxes.

I did see people insisting that a certain standard of life, education, and medical care was a basic human right, however. And I think what they're bristling at (if, good fellows, you can forgive me speaking for you) is your ignorance of the UK as a country in general, it's economic and political history specifically, and how both are underscored by turbulent class conflict and the genesis & development of the labour movement as we currently conceive of it.

So I think people feel that you're putting the cart before the horse, in that you're putting an ambiguous and speculative (though not necessarily fanciful) welfare of a future, inchoate citizenry over the the needs and rights of a corporeal, current citizenry.

Coupled with your well known libertarianism and previously stated believe that charity from the wealthy would form an adequate welfare base, you can see that the resultant heady cocktail might be difficult for some mefites to get down.
posted by smoke at 8:25 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Malor, this argument has been ongoing for decades and your position or similar has been presented in a far more sophisticated and articulate fashion than you've managed there. Suffice it to say I've heard the extended version of all the arguments you make (I've even looked at the figures)) and you're wrong.
In the context of this thread it does interest me though, as my contention is that the Liberal Democrats would be using a weak sauce version of the same to justify the cuts they'd make if they got into power - they've done similar when in local government. However, since they know the UK in ways you apparently don't, they'd never be so daft as to wag their finger at the poor as you are doing.
posted by Abiezer at 8:31 PM on April 19, 2010


Abiezer, I do have a question for you:

Here in Australia, our somewhat equivalent of the Lib Dems (the Australian Democrats) spectacularly imploded several years ago when they had a balance of power and made I guess what you would call an economically rationalist compromise with our incumbent government. The party base - ever a somewhat chimerical mix of protest votes, libertarian types, wonks, and leftish types frustrated by our Labor party but not yet left enough for our green party - immediately shattered and they were consequently decimated at each and every subsequent election. The pressure of being a genuine "third way" whilst actually wielding power and influence proved too much for them in the end.

In their absence, the Green party here (the Australian Greens), subsequently increased its vote quite substantially (to around 10%), along with its demographic mix and I would personally say level of political maturity and sophistication (it looks very much like they will be holding balance of power in the next senate we get).

So with that long preamble concluded, what's your take on the Lib Dems from a green perspective? And on any greenish parties in the UK? And bonus round: do you think - much like our own democrats here - the pressures of a diverse voting base and the burden of actually being in power - the lib dems may find the load of a "real" role in govt actually too heavy to bear?
posted by smoke at 8:44 PM on April 19, 2010


It's a testament to the success of the movement that all the parties are falling over themselves to appear greenest - is that the same in Aus?
My suspicions of the Clegg/Cable wing of the Lib Dems stem from that internal party battle noted in the link I added in my first comment in this thread - he represents the economic liberal side (the magic market solves all types) and they're at odds with those in the party most interested in green issues as far as I can tell - the latter being more aware of the incompatibility of a green agenda with that sort of voodoo market fundamentalism. I wouldn't want to pretend to any great expertise on the party but that seems to me to be a contradiction they'll have to work out.
Our actual Greens seem fairly well placed to possibly even get an MP in Brighton; the left seem to be holding sway in the party at the moment but again given their history they're a bit of a lash-up, with founders like Porritt being out of our established political classes, interested in ways to make capitalism work and a bit of a Malthusian, as against people like Derek Wall who's always identified himself as of the left AFAIK; I suspect if they get anything like power they'll have a similar battle to work through.
posted by Abiezer at 9:39 PM on April 19, 2010


Sadly, it's exactly the opposite here in Australia: the parties are moving away from green as fast as they can, such is the power of the denialists here (barely more than 50% of the population believe in Anthropogenic change, sigh).
posted by smoke at 10:08 PM on April 19, 2010


Should put a word in for the nationalist parties too: this piece by George Monbiot considers Plaid Cymru and asks 'Why, when the three main parties in Westminster appear to be trapped in a neoliberal consensus, is a green socialist party sharing power in Cardiff?'.
posted by Abiezer at 11:24 PM on April 19, 2010


Out of order here:

Coupled with your well known libertarianism and previously stated believe that charity from the wealthy would form an adequate welfare base, you can see that the resultant heady cocktail might be difficult for some mefites to get down.

Where on earth have I ever said anything of the sort?

So I think people feel that you're putting the cart before the horse, in that you're putting an ambiguous and speculative (though not necessarily fanciful) welfare of a future, inchoate citizenry over the the needs and rights of a corporeal, current citizenry.

You don't have the right to put people in debt that aren't even born yet for your own benefit. You just don't. It's a terribly evil thing you're doing. Taking on debt for productive items that will pay for themselves is one thing; gorging yourself on caviar and sticking your kids with the bill, one they have no way of escaping or refusing to pay without terrible consequences, is appalling.

They have just as much right to a high living standard as you do, but you're stealing that from them, forcing them to pay for YOUR lifestyle instead. Money they spend paying the debts you incurred to fund your lifestyle is money they can't spend on their own. Not only do they have to pay for your consumption, they ALSO have to pay the interest on that consumption, and then somehow have to eke out whatever remaining lifestyle they can manage under that debt burden.

Claiming that future citizens, who will certainly exist, are 'inchoate' is just ludicrous. What, you think you're just going to stop having babies? You're totally focused on the now, on the me, and fuck the people who come after. You're taking out more than you're giving. You're supposed to leave behind a solid foundation for your children to build on, and they in turn need to get things ready for your grandchildren.

You borrow-and-spenders are sabotaging that process..... you're actually asserting that the people who come after you are not as important as you are, and that's it's okay to live beyond your means and stick them with the bill.
posted by Malor at 5:45 AM on April 20, 2010


According to the economist, the UK's national debt is about 68% of GDP, which makes it the 22nd worst country in the world for national debt by that measure (although that list seems to put the US much lower than its bullet point at the top of the page suggests it should be, so perhaps the entire chart is misleading).

I like this graph of the American national debt as a percentage of GDP, and its sharp rises during the last three Republican presidencies.
posted by dng at 6:18 AM on April 20, 2010


gorging yourself on caviar

Malor, no one is talking about caviar, and until you start addressing the real discussion that's taking place here instead of some strange "welfare king/queen" fantasy, we're both wasting our time.

Where on earth have I ever said anything of the sort?

Perhaps I reading too much into it in the context of your other libertarian predilections, but I would argue that this is sufficiently 'of the sort':

"liberals want to spend money feeding people at home, but the key driver there is that they always want to do it with other people's money, taking it by force instead of forming voluntary associations."

Happy to retract if you disagree, however.
posted by smoke at 6:37 AM on April 20, 2010


Jesus, Malor, give all this lobster thermidor and caviar bollocks a rest. It's nonsense on stilts. This idea that it's "terribly evil" – not just irresponsible, or wrong, or immoral but actually evil – to have a properly-funded welfare state, as if it's it's some sort of horrific indulgence that is an affront to all good-thinking, bootstrap-pulling men of honour and character, is just sub-Randian justification for the kind of "fuck you, got mine!" attitude that would see a man in a ditch by the side of the road and demand payment before pulling him out.

You say: You're supposed to leave behind a solid foundation for your children to build on, and they in turn need to get things ready for your grandchildren.

This is why I believe in high, progressive taxation, used in furtherance of a well-funded welfare state. The problem here is not that it's immoral to provide a safety net – and certainly, when you characterise the very idea of hard-won social services as theft, that's what you're arguing. The problem here is that the rights and the benefits that the working classes have both fought and died for these past 100 years need to be funded by proper taxation. And tax rates in this country (and in the US) have been disproportionately loaded onto the working and middle classes over the past 30 years, all to massively benefit the top 1%. You want to get angry about structural deficits? There's your answer. Tax the rich at the same levels they were taxed 50 years ago, when both the US and the UK had (i) far better levels of economic inequality than they do now, and (ii) were both – particularly the US – more economically productive than they'd ever been before. Those two situations are not coincidental.
posted by Len at 6:53 AM on April 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually, "caviar bollocks" got me thinking ...

[INT. RESTAURANT, NIGHT TIME]

A scruffy family of four, visibly badly nourished, poorly dressed, and lacking basic hygeine, walks through the front doors of an opulent restaurant, and approach the front desk. Chandeliers hang, glittering like stars in the night sky, from a high ceiling. Classical music burbles quietly in the background.

Maitre'D: Welcome to The Welfare State, sir. Do you have a reservation?
Ben F. Itscrounger: Um, yes. Itscruonger. Party of four.
MD: Ah yes. If you'll just follow me, sir.

The Maitre'D escorts the Itscrounger party of four to a table covered in beutiful linen, a golden candlestick at the centre of the table, before seating them and presenting them with the wine list

MD: Drink, sir?
BFI: Why yes!
MD: Would sir like the extra-strength canned lager, in a special Tramp Can edition, or the Chateauneuf du Pape '89?
BFI: Oh, I think we'll have the Chateauneuf. So much more attuned to the underclass palate, wouldn't you say?
MD: Of course, sir. And you're having the Chef's menu this evening, I believe?
BFI: We are yes. Would you care to walk us through it?
MD: Well, there are two chef's menus this evening, sir. The first has a starter of cheese on toast, followed by a medley of Findus Crispy Pancakes, served with McCain's Oven Fresh french fries and a trio of HP, Tomato and BBQ sauces, with a slice of arctic roll and Lidl vanilla ice cream to finish. Or sir could opt for the second choice: a starter of caviar bollocks with a roulade of foie gras. For a main – unless, of course, one of sir's party is shellfish intolerant – lobster thermidor. And to finish, profiteproletariats, with a loganberry coulis.
BFI: Oh, I think option number two. One wouldn't want to go eating anything too rich, would one?
MD: Indeed, sir. And how will one be paying this evening, sir?
BFI: Oh, we needn't worry about that. Apparently my friend Malor says my grandkids will have it covered.
MD: Quite, sir.

[END SCENE]
posted by Len at 7:21 AM on April 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


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