Tuesday, 24 February 2009

We're a Party Dumbass: A Response to Iain Dale

Yesterday Iain Dale asked the question "Are the Lib Dems a Political Party or a Pressure Group?" I thought I'd leave my response overnight in the hope that I would calm down. As the title suggests I didn't really.

He basically started a piece about rumours of cooperation between a Tory Government and the Lib Dems with a rant about how he'd personally like to see the Lib Dem's 'obliterated' and then this tirade in his final paragraph.

It is sensible at this stage to see what levels of cooperation are both desirable and achievable. If nothing else, it will force the LibDems* to decide whether they are a political party or a pressure group. Pressure groups have the luxury of spouting forth on every issue of the day with no ability to ever gain power and change things. Political parties exist because they are hungry for power and want to effect change. The LibDems have just over a year to decide which they are.

Now Iain as well as being a member of a political party I am or have been a member of some pressure groups, No2ID, Amnesty and CND to name 3 high profile ones. So I do know the difference. Pressure Groups focus on one area, one issue they do not spout out about every issue of the day. Another pressure group may well do so but a pressure group doesn't have to make tough decisions to make the whole work together. That is the key a political party has to get a balance between those ares of concern that face its members and the country as a whole.

If the Lib Dems were hungry for power as you put it they very easily may well still have a hand in power here in Scotland. You're forgetting Iain that while it has been almost 12 years since the Tories had power in any Parliament in the UK it has only been less than 2 years for the Lib Dems (not counting the current all in set up in Wales). Now we still get barbs for some of the tough calls we had to make over 8 years to form a partnership with Labour to get some of our ideas unto the statute book we had to led some of those we didn't necessarily agree with from Labour go through to. That is hardly the act of a pressure group but of a political party playing the hand they are dealt by the voters.

But just why ask the question Iain? Is it because rather than just spouting off the Lib Dems are making sense. They are issuing costings on some of the keynote policies. We are striving to get our message across and to be sensible about it.

Unlike the Tories and Labour we don't have the luxury of a continuous forum, recently there was two consecutive weeks without Lib Dem representation on the Question Time panel if this had happened to Labour or the Tories there would have been uproar. We have to take what media is given to us because sadly, as Iain's comments show, many don't like thinking outwith the two party box. Things were so much easier with only teens of Lib Dems, the sprinkling of Nats plus the Northern Irish members. But when the third party becomes more sizable the potential of failure to attain an outright majority tends to increase. Is that what Iain is scared of while his own party look at how to cope with such an eventuality?

Iain if the Lib Dems were not a political party while I would probably have been associated with them for these past 20 plus years I wouldn't have stood for Parliament for them. The reason being is that pressure groups have their place and campaigning on issues is important, but standing on a platform of one issue often hides true intent on a range of issues which will come up once you get elected.

Therefore Iain you own argument about spouting off on a range of issues answers you own question. If we were a pressure group we'd only be focusing on say civil liberties, or the environment, or crime we'd probably not have a lot to say the economy and anything we did say wouldn't be noted by those in the know. So fear not Iain our obliteration is not something you will see come election night, whenever that may be, we're a political party that forms policy that people believe in, they may not be your kind of people but they still have a vote.

*No idea why Iain persists in his style of running this into one word with double capitalisation it stems from two words Liberal Democrats after all.


  1. "Is it because rather than just spouting off the Lib Dems are making sense"

    I reckon so! I think he's still smarting after calling us a "brave political party" by mistake, well sort of:


  2. You completely misunderstand the point I was making.

  3. Completely missing what point Iain?

    You seem to see us as only a pressure group. See the Tories as somehow having a forcing hand in making "us" make up our mind about whether we are a party or a pressure group.

    I have news for you Iain, following on from you blog post earlier we under that is is spelt O-P-P-O-S-I-T-I-O-N

  4. I think your title should read "We are party dumb asses" to be honest...

  5. I think I preferred you off the dink Malc ;)