Over the past months the Liberals (Liberal Democrats) and Labour have been fighting over who has the better qualifications to oppose the Tories.
Both parties can reasonably campaign based on their inherent, long-standing principles. What is unconscionable is for the parties, or their leaders, to put those principles ahead of what is Best for the UK: “In Putney, Labour and the Lib Dems are canvassing hard. Without tactical voting here and elsewhere, both will lose out”.
This is not a new phenomenon. Back in 1912 C P Scott (Liberal politician 1895-1906, journalist and Manchester Guardian Editor 1872 to 1929) said, “While Liberalism and Labour are snapping and snarling at each other the Conservative dog may run away with the bone,”
After more than a century, it is long past time to stop that happening again.
As we stand now, the bone is winning the General Election. While it is almost certain that none of the current opposition parties will win a clear majority, it is even clearer that only one stands a chance of mustering a majority among those opposition parties.
While it is understandable that Labour, by far the largest in terms of voters and MPs, believe that they should lead the opposition, it is not at all clear why the Leader of the Liberal Democrats is trying to dictate who Labour party members should elect as Labour Leader.
All this is despite the common ground the Liberal Democrats and Labour share, and should be building on. They have shared this common ground since the beginning of the 20th century. In 1923 C. P. Scott wrote, “Between Liberalism and Labour there are deep natural affinities, but for many a long day each is likely to pursue its separate path.”
The Liberals (Liberal Democrats) have not formed even a minority government since 1910, and of the eight Labour governments since then, four have relied on Liberal support.
Since 1910 the Tories have formed nine governments with just 2 relying on minority party support (Liberal Democrat coalition 2010-2015 and DUP supply/confidence support 2017-2019). The other minority Tory government was ousted in the 1997 General Election.
Given the implied threats in the Tory manifesto to our fundamental rights, the independence of our judicial system and Parliament’s sovereignty, we should be taking a progressive and pragmatic view of who to vote for on Thursday.
If you have any doubt about the threat posed, look at page 47-48 of the Tory manifesto: Repeal of the Fixed Term Parliament Act (handing back to the Prime Minister the power to dissolve Parliament), implementing Voter Id in elections and “stop the harvesting of postal votes”, both of which will see people in the poorest groups of society, together with the elderly, ethnic minorities and the homeless, threatened with being disenfranchised.
There are also, as yet vague, proposals in the Tory manifesto to examine “the relationship between Government, Parliament and the courts” and “ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays”.
Clearly the government hasn’t enjoyed some recent appearances in the Supreme Court where it was judged to have fallen foul of the law. It’s on a par with mutterings about reviewing Channel 4’s license after the melting ice substituted for Boris Johnson.
Bear in mind that these manifesto commitments need to be considered in the context of a party which, while in government, has sought to: ignore the rule of law; reduce the status of UK citizens; subvert the authority of Parliament and its ability to hold the government to account, and repeatedly failed to deliver on its promises to UK citizens who happen to live overseas.
This election isn’t just about Brexit, or even the NHS or social care, important as those issues undoubtedly are. It is also about what sort of socially responsible, democratically accountable system we want for our country and our children.
If the opposition parties are failing to work on the basis of what is Best for the UK, it is up to the electorate to point this out to them by voting to stop the election of an authoritarian government with an established track record of attempting to reduce our fundamental rights and diminish the UK’s Parliament.
We shouldn’t let some criticism, however genuine and justified, of Labour and Lib-Dem policies, positions, etc… get in the way of electing a Parliament that works for the Best Interests of the UK.
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Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.