Monday, 23 August 2010

Dear Daily Telegraph: The History of Splitting

The Daily Telegraph today has an article entitled 'The Liberals have a History of Splitting'.

It says that:

"Most Lib Dems chose Charles Kennedy as leader. Most chose Sir Menzies Campbell. Most chose Paddy Ashdown. And most have just chosen Simon Hughes to be the party's deputy leader."
Of course the last part in inaccurate as only the majority of Lib Dem MPs chose Simon as Deputy Leader. But the whole tenant of the argument is that over the last century only the Liberal had a tendency to split or splinter.

It ignores the fact that at the time that the Liberals split before the Nationalist Government the Labour party itself had split with the Independent Labour party opposing mobilisation during the First World War, the anti-war campaigner Ramsey MacDonald resigned as leader and Arthur Anderson took over. The same grouping would disaffiliate itself once more in 1932 under MacDonald. But in 1931 the Labour cabinet itself was split over spending and wage cuts split. It led to MacDonald and his keys allies resigning and setting up the National Government with the support of Tories and Liberals.In 1951 there was a split into the Gatskillite and Bevanite camps over the future direction of socialism.

Of course in 1981 there was a major split that led to the formation of a new party, whose successors would later go on to be in Government, that was of course the SDP. There followed the Militant tendency which led to a further split as some Labour MPs and members went off to the Socialist groups.

Which leads us on Ed Miliband telling us that Nick Clegg is betraying Liberal tradition and that he is actually a Tory. Now if ever there was a Government that had betrayed its own tradition it would be the Labour government of the last 13 years of which Ed was a part of in the later stages. As for betraying the Liberal tradition maybe Ed would like to define exactly what he means by that. There are a number of liberal ideologies all contained within the Liberal Democrats, so we are always coming to compromises on setting out policy and our stall.

He goes as far as calling Nick a Tory. Having read his thoughts on the future of Liberalism in the The Liberal Moment at about this time last year was able to ask questions a matter of hours after finishing reading it. I know he's not a Tory, but his is part of a Government that is largely occupied by Tories, therefore of course there will be more Conservative policies straight out of their manifesto than ours, but there are also a number of compromises on policies where than can be action.

Waking up this morning as I did in Conservative-free* Northern Ireland I don't fell like a Tory because of the coalition. Every upheaval that faces Miliband's party does seem to lead to another split. There are so many socialist parties in some parts of Scotland (esp Glasgow) that they are tripping over each other.

So Ed be careful throwing those stones about, there are dangers as always under the Labour party, just because you are being called the Bennite candidate is no need to go off in a huff.

* And Ulster Unionist at Westminster level.

1 comment:

  1. ' . . whole tenant of the argument . . ' - 'tenet' is the mot juste here.