Missing the point

21 February 2006

Oh dear, and it was looking so promising too. The latest on LibertyCentral:

Anyway, Anyone But Labour is crystalising…

No, no, no. I’m not voting for, say, Robert Kilroy-Silk ahead of Labour. I wouldn’t vote either for the Tory Sir George “Brian Haw is helping the terrorists” Young, nor dictators’ friend George Galloway. It’s not a case of being against any one party, or even against just the current government. It should be a cause of being for liberty, for the freedom to protest in Westminster, the freedom from detention without trial, freedom from being stopped and searched in a Tube station because the police think you look funny (i.e. not white), the right to go about your life without having your movements logged by a centralised register of identity, the right to not have your DNA kept on record despite you being innocent of any crime, the right to demand it’s an elected Parliament and not the executive to make laws.

The easiest conjuring trick of them all is to create threatening figureheads who “threaten” our way of life – to single out particular figures as evil and nefarious because of their facial hair, military garb or prosthetic hooks, to make them into easily-demonised figures. It’s cheap, it’s quick and it bypasses any intelligent treatment of the subject, it discards more complex notions of what we are for, in favour of who we are against. It’s the political equivalent of an anti-paedo witch-hunt – it’s how the current war on terror is being fought by the UK and US governments, and the pro-civil liberty rush in the blogosphere is surging the same way in the way it’s tarring the Labour Party. Yes, the current Blair government is passing all manner of illiberal laws, but they’re not the only part of the political spectrum keen on doing so. Just as the nascent pro-liberty movement is broad-based and across political wings, so is the cause of those who push for stricter laws. Tony Blair might be a Labour MP but so are Bob Marshall-Andrews and Jeremy Corbyn.

As a result, I’ve altered my earlier musings on voting Tory (or whoever) to turf Labour out of power; it’s no good throwing out the good MPs with the bad. The issues being debated are too important to reduce to typical party politics – we should be voting for pro-civil liberty MPs and councillors and kick out those who are against, whether they be Labour or Tory, Lib Dem or Monster Raving Loony. Puffing on about “Anyone But Labour” doesn’t just risk missing the right target, but also risk failing to engage an electorate who will see it as just another partisan stunt, rather than the very real issues it is trying to tackle.


8 Responses

Well said! I think we’ve got enough on our plate just to stop the current erosion of civil liberties without trying to write a new constitution or bill of rights at the same time. Granted, the latter would help avoid the former, but that’s trying to run before before you can walk, in my view.

I agree… almost. Sure, “we should be voting for pro-civil liberty MPs and councillors and kick out those who are against”, but we need to have a sense of what we consider an acceptable end result – and another New Labour government isn’t acceptable, even with a smaller majority and a different leader. (Forget the idea that they’d be chastened by a reduced majority – that should be happening round about now, after all.) There’s room for debate as to whether the Labour Party can ever recover from New Labour (I tend to think it’s gone beyond the point of no return) – but the first step in either superseding or reforming the party has got to be kicking them out.

Having said that, I share Bob‘s distaste for the idea of voting Tory, even with new improved saying-some-sensible-things actually-saying-some-quite-left-wing-things-when-you-look-at-it what’s-that-about-then Cameron. I stand by what I said on my blog on the 3rd of May last year:

Boycotts, by definition, cannot be relied on to deliver an optimal choice: that’s not what they’re for. What they do is signal that there are choices we are not willing to make – positions that we are not prepared to endorse – even at a cost to ourselves. I’d hate to have a Tory MP, but I would rejoice to see my Labour MP’s vote drop far enough to make that a possibility.

While Labour is controlled by the New Labour clique (and it is – these people are serious about power), nobody running as a Labour candidate deserves our support. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the ballot paper. It doesn’t matter if Labour won last time or came second or third. If you can’t stand the Trots and the tankies, vote Lib Dem. If you can’t stand the Lib Dems, vote Green.

Don’t abstain. Don’t be an idiot and vote Tory.

But don’t vote Labour.

Charlie Whitaker

MPs and councillors of any party are free to cross the floor. Yet they don’t. There _are_ Labour MPs who have shown spirited resistance to the worst of New Labour but they’re still willing to do as Diane Abbott did, for example: voting against 90-day detention but _for_ the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. Who knows why? Promises by Gordon?

We, on the other hand, only have one vote each: we just aren’t capable of fine discrimination through the ballot box. So, when it comes to voting, I wholeheartedly believe that ‘Anyone But Labour’ is what it has to be. For now.

There’s more to democracy than the ballot box, though. Use all the channels you have access to.

Alexander

There’s no point wringing one’s hands about good Labour MPs losing their seats. Labour needs a hard smack on the nose now.

The worst thing that happened in 2005 is that the party got off scott (report) free for the most part in the General Election. By giving them a 66 seat majority we let them off the hook for Iraq, Hutton, PFI…

A good kicking could be what’s needed to put the government on the straight and narrow. And as an added bonus it would speed Blair’s departure!

But a good kicking for Labour is also what’s needed to put a Conservative government back in power. I think the point of wringing your hands about good Labour MPs losing their seats is that, er, it’s a bad thing if good Labour MPs lose their seats.

I’ve waffled on at greater length over here, but… The Tories are not the answer. The Lib Dems not a viable answer yet, and may never be. No party has a monopoly on liberty or authoritarianism. To fixate so hard on Labour as being the one and only problem for liberty in this country that you can’t even distinguish between good and bad MPs is just kamikaze politics.

Tom, essentially, I agree.

In a way, it’s gone too far too fast, so a moment to take pause and think things through is needed. No idea exactly how to go or where to target it directly, but it did get consumed a litt;e Anyone But Labour effectively came from Blairwatch, I didn’t see the flaws in it when I picked it up as a tag, but, well, the delights of blogging is people can critique.

Yours is an important one.

For the record, I’m utterly convinced that a Tory govt is impossible givent eh electoral maths, they simple can’t win enough seats, psephology says no. If analysis says otherwise then things may change, but for now?

I want as many pro-liberty MPs as possible, from whatever party. I’m pretty sure of mostof the LibDems, and there are a number of Tories (and even more likely candidates) that should be good.

Beyond that, not sure. Nascent, it’s less than a week since this started. Still lots of time to iron out the flaws.

I think the point of wringing your hands about good Labour MPs losing their seats is that, er, it?s a bad thing if good Labour MPs lose their seats.

I refer the honourable gentleman to my previous comment. Seriously: part of the definition of a boycott is that it doesn’t deliver the best possible result – if it did, you would have done it anyway. (South African wine is actually quite good…)

Of course it?s a bad thing if good Labour MPs lose their seats. But if that’s what it takes to stop the country being governed by New Labour – and controlling the party is one thing New Labour are very serious indeed about – then it’s a price we should pay.

Alexander

Thanks Phil. The brutal fact of the matter is, for every Labour MP returned, that smug ponce Blair gets just a bit more legitimacy. And if truth be told, four years of Tory rule might remind everyone, including Labour, of a time when principles actually meant something.

Face facts: most politicians are whores. And so, sometimes, you need to show them the pimp hand…