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Dr Evan Harris - The Liberal Democrat's Dr Death?
April 20, 2010 5:37 PM   Subscribe

The new focus on the Liberal Democrats sees the Daily Telegraph's Cristina Odone profiling Dr Evan Harris. That's "profiling" in the sense that the FBI might profile a criminal. A criminal the papers are calling Dr Death.

The Daily Telegraph, the standard bearer of British conservatism and the best-selling broadsheet paper in the UK, has been caught, like the rest of the country, slightly on the hop by the strong showing of Nick Clegg in the first televised debate between the leaders of the three leading British political parties. Clegg has been elevated in the public eye over the Lib Dem's previous biggest gun, the highly respected Treasury Spokesman and ballroom dancer [YT] Vince Cable.

Cristina Odone, former editor of the Catholic Herald and deputy editor of the New Stateman, is now a columnist-slash-blogger for the Telegraph, and chose to focus on a relatively little-known character, the Shadow Science Minister Dr Evan Harris. And how.

Noting that his critics call him "Dr Death", Odone takes strong issue with Harris' position on voluntary euthanasia (for), the freer availability of abortion (for), God (anti) and abortion levels in the United Kingdom (indifferent). She warns that:

Labour still has a rump of Christian socialists. The Tories are relatively sympathetic to faith. The Lib Dems are now the most secular party in the Britain – and not in a good way. There’s something sinister about a movement that, in my view, doesn’t hold all life precious; that thinks that less than perfect lives can be dispensed with on grounds of “compassion”. Remember that creepy side of the Lib Dems next time you see Clegg bouncing with vitality.

It's interesting to see, post-Twitter, how the comments run. Up to 11am today, the comments universally support Odone and criticise Harris and the Liberal Democrats. After that, it's one-way traffic the other way.

Matters of policy and etiquette aside, Odone does raise an interesting question - to what extent should Britain expect its leaders to be religious? After all, the country still has an established church, although one to which neither Harris nor Odone belong. She has also drawn unexpected attention to Dr Harris. So, since this appears to be Liberal Democrat week, Dr. Evan Harris: He also has a blog. All of which leaves me wondering - why do Liberal Democrats' resumés seem so much more colourful than their counterparts in the major parties?
posted by DNye (71 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
My impression was that the British public was very sympathetic to medically-assisted suicide. Haven't there been a number of high-profile cases over the past couple of years that have attracted a lot of attention and sympathy?
posted by mr_roboto at 5:39 PM on April 20, 2010


My first post - I hope it's passable. It was really inspired by not knowing all that much about Evan Harris, except regarding Simon Singh and libel reform, and being slightly surprised when he appeared as quite such an unattractive figure in the Telegraph (which, incidentally, is not a part of the Murdoch press - it's owned by the Barclay Brothers).
posted by DNye at 5:39 PM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Odone does raise an interesting question - to what extent should Britain expect its leaders to be religious?

Would that such a debate were even imaginable in the U.S.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:45 PM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


*sniff* It's so great to see the classics are still popular. Good ol' fear-mongering propagandist lies.
posted by DU at 5:46 PM on April 20, 2010


This strikes me more as an attempt by the "stuffy" Telegraph to get all direct and in your face à la Fox News and their ilk. There is no factual information whatsoever in the blog post - it doesn't even say who Evan Harris is. It simply calls him Dr. Death, makes no attempt to counter or discuss his views and tells readers to associate "killers" with the Lib Dems.

It's shit, sloppy, scaremongering journalism and personally makes me even more in favour of the Lib Dems, if only because they are pissing people like this off.
posted by jontyjago at 5:49 PM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well Christianity is the state religion there, so I guess this isn't that surprising.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:52 PM on April 20, 2010


If the Lib Dems win, then we can call Great Britain "The Island of Doctor Death" (kinda).

Anyway, I know who I would vote for if my citizenship was well established.
posted by grobstein at 5:53 PM on April 20, 2010


Odone does raise an interesting question - to what extent should Britain expect its leaders to be religious?
Er what? Generally we don't expect that at all, which is why Tony Blair famously 'didn't do God' while he was PM. The 'established church' is just a historical hangover leading to the presence of a few Bishops in the Lords.
posted by Flitcraft at 5:54 PM on April 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


mr_roboto: That does seem to be the case - at present, the terminally ill have to travel to Switzerland, where voluntary assisted suicide is legal and can thus be administered by medical staff, whereas in Britain they would need to either work very hard to do it themselves, potentially implicate their loved ones in their unlawful killing or deteriorate to the point that they could have a "do not resuscitate" notice, cease to be fed or have their analgesic dose increased to the point of fatality, as I understand the law. There seems to be a public perception that that is not a workable system, balanced by a fear that elderly relatives might be pressured into ending their lives "so as not to be a burden", and perhaps, as Odone seems to suggest, that it would be a slippery slope to terminating the infirm or comatose without their consent or possibly terminating pregnancies in the case of problems detected in the womb: I'm not entirely sure what she means when she says "euthanasia".

(Incidentally, Cristina Odone is the half-sister of Lorenzo Odone, the subject of the film Lorenzo's Oil, and has spoken movingly about the experience of having a loved one suffering from a chronic, long-term and ultimately fatal illness, in this case adrenoleukodystrophy.)
posted by DNye at 6:00 PM on April 20, 2010


An ex-Catholic Herald editor and current member of a Thatcherite think tank doesn't like someone with sensible views on abortion, euthanasia and blasphemy? Just fancy that.

I'm not sure what the point of this screed is, to be honest - I doubt many of the crusty dyed-in-the-wool Tories who read the Telegraph were on the verge of defecting to the Lib Dems, and to wavering voters on the left Harris's pet issues are like a checklist of 'Stuff White People Betrayed by Labour Like'.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 6:11 PM on April 20, 2010 [4 favorites]



that thinks that less than perfect lives can be dispensed with on grounds of “compassion”

>> Cristina Odone is the half-sister of Lorenzo Odone, the subject of the film Lorenzo's Oil

Ah. Relevant fact; thanks.
posted by darth_tedious at 6:43 PM on April 20, 2010


a little headband I put around my throat: Well, to be fair, I don't think she's mentioned blasphemy specifically, although she does clearly believe that there is a way to be secular in a bad way, and I imagine that a relaxed attitude to blasphemy might be one of the ways in which it might be bad. The Church of England was also iffy about the blasphemy statute being removed, although its bishops in the House of Lords, I think, abstained.

It's a funny one, as you say- the Telegraph, which must be the most right-wing of the "proper" newspapers, seems unlikely to be afraid of its own readers moving to the Lib Dems. That said, a lot of people outside the regular set of Telegraph readers might read the blogs and web content, and there certainly is a fear that wavering one-nation Tories, the few remaining europhile conservatives, civil libertarians and the like might start wandering towards the Lib Dems. Part of this is probably the ambiguity of the party, with Harris and others in the Beveridge Group seeking to move it or keep it to the left on a number of issues. There may also be a desire to raise morale - another recent Odone article was reassuring that Clegg would win votes for the Liberal Democrat's opposition to the invasion of Iraq, but only from disgruntled labour voters, and the Conservative vote will hold up.

I was certainly surprised by the tone, although possibly Odone is there for her forceful voice. Harris does seem like a Mental Organism Designed for Opposition to Conservatives - we haven't even touched on his current relationship with the press officer of a family planning agency, or his presidency of the Liberal Democrats' LGBT activism group...
posted by DNye at 7:03 PM on April 20, 2010


The Telegraph is a dismal rightwing crapsheet beloved of ol ... oh, hi dad!

Anyway, everyone knows that the original Dr Death is David Owen.
posted by scruss at 8:02 PM on April 20, 2010


Dr Death?
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:15 PM on April 20, 2010


The Telegraph, aka Torygraph, has changed in the last couple of years. From a stuffy, man in the Carlton Club style to something more, well, odd. Its bloggers in particular are generally allied to the Dan Hannan/UKIP tendency in the Tory party, arguing against climate change and, bizarrely a British Tea Party. It has been described as the house paper of the libertarian far right.

The Tory supporting press is obeying the CCHQ line and is coming out with as much anti Lib Dem stuff as possible, with no pretence at balance. This may be counter productive as it could reinforce the image of the Lib Dems as the little guy standing up to two bullies.

The other interesting point, is that the Libertarian right are frightening their own party. It is widely believed, by all including moderate Tories, that should Cameron not deliver a working majority, he will be toast on 7 May. The next leader, and those around him, will be from the libertarian right.
posted by quarsan at 9:25 PM on April 20, 2010


Well Christianity is the state religion there, so I guess this isn't that surprising.

Not really. The Church of England (Anglican, Episcopalian, whatever you want to call it) is the established church in England. The Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) isn't an established church though it does have some, mostly historical, ties to the State. Neither Wales nor Northern Ireland has an established religion. (And what Flitcraft said).
posted by GeckoDundee at 10:13 PM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dr. Death?
posted by homunculus at 11:28 PM on April 20, 2010


Generally we don't expect that at all, which is why Tony Blair famously 'didn't do God' while he was PM. The 'established church' is just a historical hangover leading to the presence of a few Bishops in the Lords.

Yes and no. Peter Hennessy wrote an interesting article surveying the spiritual beliefs of postwar British Prime Ministers and pointing out that we haven't had an atheist in 10 Downing Street since 1957. Attlee, Churchill and Eden were all agnostics or atheists, but their successors have all been sympathetic to Christianity in some form: Macmillan (Anglo-Catholic), Douglas-Home (Scottish Episcopalian), Wilson (Congregationalist), Heath (Anglican), Callaghan (Baptist), Thatcher (Methodist), Major (Anglican), Blair (Roman Catholic convert) and Brown (Scottish Presbyterian). Admittedly their religion has mostly been of the unostentatious, believing-but-not-belonging variety, but even so, as Hennessy says, it's a striking statistic: Atheists and Agnostics United 3: Christians 9. Bear that in mind before you claim that the British don't expect their leaders to be religious.
posted by verstegan at 11:49 PM on April 20, 2010


verstegan, there's less of a focus on the private lives of politicians here (not much less, sure, but still some less). So long as they're not basing policy or decision-making on their faith in an overt way, they're effectively non-religious politicians, whatever they might do when on their knees in private.
posted by Dysk at 12:00 AM on April 21, 2010


But as the subject turns to the ethical or religious issue of the day – faith schools, say, or teenage pregnancies – I watch him turn pop-eyed with bilious indignation.

Swap 'him' for 'myself' and this'd be a much more accurate description, Ms. Odone.
posted by Dysk at 12:02 AM on April 21, 2010


Did anyone see that Evan Harris responded in the comments thread? [Can't direct link, but it's near the start - 11.16am on 19 April]

Er what? Generally we don't expect that at all, which is why Tony Blair famously 'didn't do God' while he was PM. The 'established church' is just a historical hangover leading to the presence of a few Bishops in the Lords.


Blair converted to Catholicism after he stepped down as PM. I remember reading one article (in the Times I believe) when he was PM, claiming that his Catholic links (Cherie was already Catholic) made him unsuitable to be PM (!). So I suspect he 'didn't do God' because he felt there would be some negative response to him declaring himself Catholic. [And Catholics can't become head of state]

On the other hand, you have Prince Charles, next in line to be Monarch and head of the Anglican Church, who wants to be known as 'defender of faith' rather than 'defender of the [Anglican] faith'. So it's seemingly changing.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:16 AM on April 21, 2010


whatever they might do when on their knees in private.

Simply carrying some kneepads in your book bag will really save both wear and dirt from destroying the knees of your pants. You never know when you might need them...
posted by hippybear at 12:16 AM on April 21, 2010


Odone does raise an interesting question - to what extent should Britain expect its leaders to be religious?

Hhhhmmm. I think it raises a much more important point, that the Torygraph are terrified all the energy they've invested will in the Cameron project come to naught and are desperately looking for issues to try and make fake controversy over.
posted by Damienmce at 12:28 AM on April 21, 2010


No wonder Gordon Brown is looking more relaxed these days, even though Labour poll ratings are at the bottom. Even though Tory press glands can generate an astounding amount of venom, there's so only so much to go around, and now that the LibDems are a target, columns that would be dedicated to criticising Gordon Brown's policies, beliefs and hairdo must now be used for the character assassination of other people. Must be quite refreshing for him.

Still, the Tories are wrong to criticise euthanasia, considering that they are increasingly likely to apply it to Cameron in a few weeks.
posted by Skeptic at 12:49 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't want to believe that this is a serious article. It's a real shame that I can find no alternative to the Telegraph. I find both the Guardian and the Independent to be too left-leaning and not liberal enough.
posted by jpcooper at 1:03 AM on April 21, 2010


Infinite Jest: It's true that heads of state can't be Catholic in Britain, but I think a Prime Minister could be relatively easily. The only problem would be that the Prime Minister generally advises the monarch on the appointment of archbishops, which would not currently be legal, for fairly obvious reasons - in this day and age, one might be able to delegate, or amend the law.

I think that when Blair said that he didn't do God, it was partly because he had unofficially converted to Catholicism during his time in office and didn't want to make that clear, but also because his particular relationship with God - as the authority to whom he is accountable and who is the only true judge of the rightness of his actions - would have been, I think, disconcerting for the British electorate. The mainstream of the same electorate, I think, is looking for a Christian Prime Minister in the same way that they probably identify as Christian - not necessarily belonging to a particular church or attending one outside special occasions, but espousing a set of shared, notionally Christian values and a belief in the cultural importance of the Christian church in Britain. Whether it would be a real wedge issue I guess hasn't been put to the proof for a while: Michael Foot was the last openly atheist leader of a major political party, I think. Michael Howard was Jewish, but neither was a serious contender for leadership of the country for other reasons.

There was an awkward moment for Tony Blair in 2002 when David Frost, in what was clearly meant to be a soft interview, asked him if he had prayed with George Bush - since that question indirectly asked whether he and Bush prayed in the same, unintermediated way, and also whether he talked directly with as well as to God, as Bush did. It's recalled here (Telegraph) and here (Guardian).

That said, it may well not be much fun being a Roman Catholic media pundit right now, especially if you feel your adopted country has a history of persecuting Catholics with less provocation than some recent events might provide. Cristina Odone, Damien Thompson and others might be feeling a bit raw.
posted by DNye at 1:49 AM on April 21, 2010


Having moaned on about the Lib Dems in the previous thread on the party, I must say I find Dr Harris to be one of their more admirable MPs - a decent man who tries to apply his principles to public life in an honest fashion; I disagree with his stance on a number of issues but he's apparently determined to press through with proper libel reform and as noted above, is a prominent secularist and advocate of science-based policy. Odone, on the other hand, seems to have long been a gobshite for hire with a penchant for personalising the political and presenting apologies for the Catholic Church that might make even a Jesuit blush.
posted by Abiezer at 1:58 AM on April 21, 2010


Abiezer, that's some strong damn stuff in that last link. Odone actually suggests that it was fine that there were no consequences for a particular priest who was involved in serial sexual abuse because it was his dying wish that he not be removed from the Church. What the fuck?
posted by Dysk at 2:04 AM on April 21, 2010


I don't want to believe that this is a serious article. It's a real shame that I can find no alternative to the Telegraph. I find both the Guardian and the Independent to be too left-leaning and not liberal enough.

I now buy the Telegraph purely for the crossword (just can't get used to the style of the crosswords in other papers) and Matt.

This article is ludicrous.
posted by jonnyploy at 2:05 AM on April 21, 2010


I'm a loony leftist but always used to read the Telegraph for the excellent cricket coverage.
posted by Abiezer at 2:17 AM on April 21, 2010


This is the response that Infinite Jest mentioned above, in case anyone doesn't want to trawl through the 'speak your branes'-esque comments section. There's no guarantee that it's actually by Evan Harris, but here it is:

evanharris on Apr 19th, 2010 at 11:16 am:
I have met Christina on several occasions and she has always – at least to my face been polite and civil. How sad that she resorts to snide personal comments which she has publicly condemned in others. Why not just stick to the issues?

On the issues, it is true that, in common with 80% of the country and a majority of Christians, Lib Dems support – on a free vote for MPs and peers – the legalisation of assisted dying for the suffering terminally ill of sound mind. This is very different from “euthanasia” which would include involuntary and non-voluntary euthanasia (non-consenting or where no capacity to consent) which we of course oppose.

On abortion, there is no party policy. I support -a s does 80% of the population and the Church of England – the right of women not to be forced to go through pregnancy and give birth against their will. Abortion, when it happens, should take place as early as possible and our current laws should be amended to make access to early abortion easier to prevent delays.

I have never said that that the current abortion rate is not of import (you just made that up Christina!) and indeed have argued for more effective sex and relationships education as other countries manage and which also delays first sexual intercourse. And for better access to effective contraception. We can disagree on that too but best to have a rational discussion rather than a distortion.

I have never said “God is bad, his followers mad”. You made that up again Christina! I respect the religious view actually but believe that the state should be neutral on religion and it should not be privileged by the state above other beliefs.

Christina confuses secular policies with atheism. There are plenty of religious people in the Lib Dems eg Steve Webb, Tim Farron, Alan Beith, Simon Hughes, Charles Kennedy, Vince Cable, etc but many of the religious in the Lib Dems agree that religion should not be sponsored by the state and that we should not allow public authorities to discriminate against gay people in the name of religion.

The personal remarks are not worthy of response. I am genuinely surprised and disappointed with Christina’s shallow, personalised approach.

Not very Christian of her I would say.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 2:23 AM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile the Mail launches an all-out assault on the Lib Dems, with a whole section devoted to partisan thuggery.
posted by influx at 2:25 AM on April 21, 2010


Dr. Harris is my MP and I'm looking forward to being able to vote for him on May 6th!

The right-wing press are frothing at the mouth at the rise of the Liberal Democrats. It's a fantastic spectator sport. See this article by David Yelland (onetime editor of the Sun) for some possible reasons why.
posted by pharm at 2:34 AM on April 21, 2010


NB, this comment appending to that Telegraph column is awesome:
"Thanks for the heads up, Cristina! Now I know to cheer for the LibDems. I want to know that if I end up in a vegetative state, I’m given a peaceful death rather than my own Telegraph column."
posted by pharm at 2:36 AM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Meanwhile the Mail launches an all-out assault on the Lib Dems, with a whole section devoted to partisan thuggery."

Yikes.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 2:46 AM on April 21, 2010


I saw the article linked on twitter the other day, and was kinda surprised it's in the Torygraph. Seems more like Daily Mail hate to me. But then I looked at influx's link and realised that I've been out of the country too long - the Mail is much much worse.
posted by handee at 2:50 AM on April 21, 2010


Dr D'Eath.
posted by topynate at 3:03 AM on April 21, 2010


More balanced comment from the Daily Mail or is it a spoof?
posted by handee at 3:06 AM on April 21, 2010


It talks about smearing semen on the faces of children. You expect that from The Guardian but not in the Daily Mail. I'm going to say spoof.

This is a genuine portrayal of the election debate though.
posted by vbfg at 3:33 AM on April 21, 2010


More balanced comment from the Daily Mail or is it a spoof?

It's definitely a spoof, although I can't say it's really that far off. I'm looking forward to the point where they start demanding to see his birth certificate.
posted by eykal at 3:40 AM on April 21, 2010


I love how they carefully choose their facts so Winston Churchill looks like a hard drinking drug addict and Adolf Hitler is a noble vegetarian who loves kittens.

Actually, if I was the Social Democrats I'd kind of refer to that little "which would you pick" exercise and talk about packaging vs. substance and these articles. If the other side of things then felt the need to point out that their candidate was NOT like Hitler, so much the better.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:14 AM on April 21, 2010


Kid Charlemagne, if you were the Social Democrats you'd be at least 20 years late for the last election your party stood in.
posted by Dysk at 4:27 AM on April 21, 2010


(Probably more, I don't know when the last election that they contested was prior to the SDP's final dissolution in 1990)
posted by Dysk at 4:29 AM on April 21, 2010


Pedants' corner - although most of the SDP agreed to the merger with the Liberals to form the SDLP (shortly renamed The Democrats, and then, because that sounded like a Quinn Martin production, the Liberal Democrats), a rump split off under David Owen. He gave up the ship shortly thereafter, but they are still kicking, although in the form of a few local councillors. The last Parliamentary election it fought was in 1991, although its candidate later joined the Lib Dems.

They have a website. It has a cow.
posted by DNye at 6:50 AM on April 21, 2010


Okay, final dissolution maybe not so much, then, but they stopped having pretensions at contesting Westminster seats two years after most of the party split off into what is now the Lib Dems (as you point out). In the context of parliamentary elections, they have not existed since 1991, which was the last by-election they entered a candidate in.
posted by Dysk at 7:15 AM on April 21, 2010


I kind of want to emigrate and move to Oxford just to vote for Evan Harris.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:27 AM on April 21, 2010


He's my MP too, and I'm rather pleased about it. I disagree with various Liberal Democrat policies, but as we only get to vote for the man, not the party, I'm happy to vote for him. He's very active on Twitter, as is his mother*.

The most irritating election commentary at the moment appears to be the Tory threats of a hung parliament damaging the economy. I can't help feeling that electing an MP who is incapable of compromising with his or her peers would be a mistake.


*Not actually his mother
posted by iso_bars at 7:51 AM on April 21, 2010


Murdoch's The Sun jumps on the slam Clegg bandwagon
posted by chavenet at 8:42 AM on April 21, 2010


Admittedly their religion has mostly been of the unostentatious, believing-but-not-belonging variety, but even so, as Hennessy says, it's a striking statistic: Atheists and Agnostics United 3: Christians 9.

That's not really very striking; it's a reasonable reflection of the proportion of A&As to Christians in the British population (cite). In fact, although I can't be bothered to look up the figures at the minute, given that the proportion of Britain that professes Christianity has been on a gentle downwards slide throughout the 20th century, 25% is probably a slightly higher percentage of godless heathens in No. 10 than you might expect.
posted by Dim Siawns at 8:44 AM on April 21, 2010


The Tablet is the newspaper of Jesuits in the United Kingdom (I know I'm buzzing this thread, but it keeps throwing up interesting comments) - I think its bar for being religious is set pretty high. Attlee seems credibly agnostic, but:

Believe in the ethics of Christianity. Can't believe the mumbo-jumbo.

Actually sounds quite a lot like many "cultural Christians" in Britain, who probably make up a chunk of that 71% in the 2001 census, especially when considered against the other survey numbers on points of faith and attendance. A single comment on the afterlife I don't think is enough to jump one way or the other on Churchill, and Eden's pantheism sounds like the sort of "I don't believe in a man with a white beard on a mountaintop, but I do believe in a force in the universe" stuff that I imagine plenty of people who ticked "Christian" in 2001 might express.

(Bear in mind, also, that Prime Ministers tend to come from wealthy and well-educated backgrounds, and as such had far more leisure to entertain metaphysical speculation than your average Briton at the time, who would be the subject of gossip and possible loss of custom if they missed church a few times.)

It does still make the point that no sitting British Prime Minister in the 20th century (and I'd feel good about adding "since the office began") has ever expressed a belief in public that there is no God; I'd probably expect that to remain the case for a while, but then what do I know?

Incidentally, and possibly of interest, the Catholic Herald invited Catholics from all three major parties to explain why Catholics should vote for them. It's interesting reading, and a fair bit more nuanced than Christian Voice's equivalent, a work of genius which wrote off the BNP on the grounds that their press officer's belief that white people where the most evolved race revealed a belief in evolution. The image of David Cameron's pro-sodomy kitchen cabinet is one that will stay with me for a long time.
posted by DNye at 11:12 AM on April 21, 2010


Oh, they're panicking now. This is great :D

"to what extent should Britain expect its leaders to be religious?"

In short: as far as I know, we don't. I've never been around other British people and the topic of religion come up without a huge aura of awkwardness descend on us all (see also: me encountering the US national anthem in the public sphere for the first time, egads). As much as people wish to claim the UK is a Christian country, we're not. We're really, really not. In fact, it would be nice if we could reclaim some of the churches, toss out the gods and hold jumble sales with biscuits and cake every day of the week while admiring the lovely buildings. But that would be a tad oppressive to the last lot of people still clinging to their Sunday services.
posted by saturnine at 11:25 AM on April 21, 2010


Flicking through the Daily Mail yesterday I was astonished at the vitriol spewing out on the subject of the LibDems. This is unprecedented folks - the normal reaction is to devote all their attention on Labour, and only mention the LibDems as an afterthought. The right wing are seriously worried.

I live in the neighbouring constituency to Evan Harris, where it will take a huge upset for the LibDems not to take the seat from Labour. Then the LibDems will control both Oxford seats.
posted by salmacis at 1:11 AM on April 22, 2010


In amongst the general mud-slinging there's been further revelations about Clegg that firm up my belief that he's essentially more of the same - the bits of his CV that he elided to dampen his track record of being a political lobbyist and essentially never having a 'proper' job, then now this stuff about donations from businessmen going straight into his personal account. Not that I think this means he's super-corrupt, just that he's not the breath of fresh air some seem to imagine.
posted by Abiezer at 4:21 AM on April 22, 2010


Abiezer, Nick Clegg is indeed not the messiah come again. Far from it. He's not even a decent or sensible politician. He does lead a party that, based on their policies and manifesto, is largely comprised of sensible and decent politicians. You've got to remember that, unless you live in Sheffield, you cannot vote for Nick Clegg - that's where he's standing. If you want to make politics personal (certainly valid in some circumstances, such as corruption) you need to be looking at the candidates for your constituency, not the party leaders.
posted by Dysk at 4:27 AM on April 22, 2010


For a limited time only, the Daily Mail Headline Generator has been Nick Clegged...

HAS NICK CLEGG GIVEN HOUSE PRICES CANCER?
COULD NICK CLEGG HAVE SEX WITH COMMON SENSE AND DECENCY?
WILL NICK CLEGG STEAL FROM CLIFF RICHARD?
COULD NICK CLEGG STEAL THE IDENTITY OF HARD-WORKING FAMILIES?
posted by handee at 4:33 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


COULD NICK CLEGG HAVE SEX WITH COMMON SENSE AND DECENCY?

I hope this is possible, that it will happen, and that it will be fruitful. A Nick Clegg with common sense and decency* would be pretty damn awesome.

*I probably disagree strenuously with the Daily Mail on what constitutes common sense and decency, but I'm going with my definition.
posted by Dysk at 4:36 AM on April 22, 2010


I know Brother Dysk; my larger objections are those I set out in the earlier thread - that Clegg and Cable together represent an even more neo-liberal combination than Labour would be (not by much, I freely grant), so that even though the party does contain admirable figures such as Dr Evans who may well deliver needed reforms to the libel law and similar, if the candidates they have for the key roles in government do also represent the party's right wing in terms of economic policy, that's worth considering too. So not any 'corruption' (which seems penny ante even if true), rather that Clegg is both entirely a creature of the political class he makes bold to decry, and that his ascendancy in the party represents a view of how the economy should be handled that I don't subscribe to.
posted by Abiezer at 4:41 AM on April 22, 2010


Abiezer, so we, as a society, should vote for those members of the LibDems that are sensible, and not elect Nick Clegg or Vince Cable personally. I don't see what the issue is...
posted by Dysk at 4:49 AM on April 22, 2010


I live right next to Sheffield (I can see it from my hill top castle) and the chances of it going to Labour are higher than LibDem. Tory? Never happen.

The Steel City hasn't forgiven nor forgotten Thatcher yet. You'd have to be giving out free money to win as a Tory up this way.
posted by longbaugh at 5:06 AM on April 22, 2010


Just that the way it's set up, the overall standing of the parties can't be separated from the various individuals. Even a vote for Dr Evans is to some extent a vote for Vince Cable in No 11 Downing Street, which I don't want.
posted by Abiezer at 5:10 AM on April 22, 2010


Abiezer, that's only the case if Vince Cable gets elected himself, though. Really, what we need is a much nuanced grassroots campaign than "VOTE LIBDEM!!!11" that might involve voting for one party in one constituency, and campaigning against that same party's candidate in another.

The problem (aside from first past the fucking post - the LibDems claim they'll introduce proportional representation if they get in, which in my mind is reason enough to vote them in, purely so we can have an ACTUAL choice in the next election) is the reductionist simplicity of the current populist push.
posted by Dysk at 5:14 AM on April 22, 2010


Breaking news - Unilever, manufacturer of Marmite yeast extract spread is to sue the BNP for displaying a jar of Marmite in their Party Political Broadcast. This promises to be absolutely hilarious.
posted by longbaugh at 5:39 AM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


longbaugh's right! This is the best news I've heard all day!
posted by Dysk at 5:42 AM on April 22, 2010


Abiezer: "I know Brother Dysk; my larger objections are those I set out in the earlier thread - that Clegg and Cable together represent an even more neo-liberal combination than Labour would be (not by much, I freely grant), so that even though the party does contain admirable figures such as Dr Evans who may well deliver needed reforms to the libel law and similar, if the candidates they have for the key roles in government do also represent the party's right wing in terms of economic policy, that's worth considering too."

Socially liberal & fiscally conservative. Sounds like my kind of people!

NB. I think you're wrong about Cable. His background is LSE followed by working for Shell: I don't think neo-classical economics is really his thing.
posted by pharm at 7:42 AM on April 22, 2010


Is Clegg A British Obama? Seriously.
posted by homunculus at 9:35 AM on April 22, 2010


Odone has posted about Harris once again, blaming the negative comments the 'Dr. Death' post gained on an organized Lib Dem 'rapid reaction force', rather than on a bunch of the people on the Internet who like to point out to people when they're talking rubbish.

Harris again responds in the comments.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 12:55 PM on April 25, 2010


"It's outrageous that something like this is allowed to happen in this country. I want this to be addressed in the next prime ministeral debates. Let's see Nick Clegg talk himself out of this one."
posted by homunculus at 11:09 PM on April 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was going to reference the Bill Hicks routine about the difference in American and British crime, but somebody in that comments section beat me to it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:17 PM on April 25, 2010


chorltonmeateater, thanks for that link. What an odious article. Is she getting paid for writing this tripe?
posted by handee at 12:51 AM on April 26, 2010


Harris loses re-election bid.
posted by grouse at 2:23 AM on May 7, 2010


What a shame.

Still, the result of the general election being what it is, he might get a chance to come back in only 12 months or so.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 2:31 AM on May 7, 2010


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