We need ideas first…

6:03 pm - September 11th 2008

by Unity    

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There is something hauntingly familiar in Sunny’s efforts to ‘re-think Obama’ and his comments on the lessons of the US ‘netroots’ movement…

In the UK, we frequently mention the US ‘netroots’ and how they forced politicians to take notice of blogs. But one aspect of that revolution almost always goes unremarked here. In their seminal book, Crashing the Gate, Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos and Jerome Armstrong of MyDD made one point very clear: tired of the factional infighting and endless pontification about where Democrats should be going, they were going to focus simply on making sure the party was going to win the election. They wanted to discuss what the Democratic Party needed to do to win and retain power – simple as that.

Mmm… been there, done that, bought the t-shirt back in 1994.

Its the same old argument that the architects of New Labour advanced back in the mid 90’s and look where that’s taken us over the last decade or so.

Sorry, does that sound a little dismissive, because that’s not my intention?

Sunny’s right, of course. If you’re serious about winning elections then there’s a point at which you have to put the infighting and endless navel-gazing to one side and get down to the business of making sure that you do win the election and either take, or retain, power but – and here’s the rub – that’s only half the story.

As Neil Kinnock rightly observed in his speech to the Labour Party conference in 1985:

“We know that power without principles is ruthless, sour, empty, vicious. We also know that principle without power is idle sterility.”

In the last ten years we’ve seen much that has been ruthless, sour, empty and vicious – and I’m not just referring to Alistair Campbell (although now you mention it) – and we’ve seen our fair share of sterility as well. The current downturn in the economy and the credit crunch may well have [finally] exposed New Labour’s lack of imagination to the full glare of public scrutiny but for those who take an interest in such things, the intellectual vacuum at the heart of the New Labour has been apparent for years. New Labour ran out of ideas somewhere around the beginning of Blair’s second term and has been bumping along on fumes and whatever it could scrape from the gutter outside the offices of the Daily Mail ever since, even if it was only at the point at which Blair cited Thomas Hobbes as authority for his ‘Respect Agenda’ that the scale of the mess that New Labour would leave behind became fully apparent.

And before anyone gets to feeling a bit too smug about that kind of criticism coming from my direction, its worth pointing out that neither of the other two main parties are in any better shape on the ideas front.

Cameron might have temporarily put a shiny new veneer on the Conservative Party but scratch the surface and is ‘same old, same old’; tax cuts for the rich, social policies written by Christian ideologues and a bit of old fashioned Tory paternalism dressed up for the 21st century in modern-day psychobabble. ‘Nudge’, my arse, if you look at the policy detail most of what you’ll find is the same old social authoritarianism with a winning smile and a big dose of ‘How Very Dare You!’ whenever anyone point that out.

Oh, and don’t get my started on the Lib Dems. They’ve had 20 years to figure out whether or not they’re liberals or social democrats and they’e no closer to reaching a conclusion and they’ve got one viable electoral policy which amounts to hanging around in the vain hope that the day will come whem both the other parties succeed in seriously pissing off the electorate at the same time, allowing them to sneak through the middle on the ‘lesser evil ticket’.

Don’t get too offended here. I’m talking about the political classes, the politicians and the party hierarchies and all their attendant hangers-on, not bloggers. Once you’ve managed to filter out the noise and give the moron tendency the slip you can still find real politics and real ideas out here on the Electronic Frontier.

The political classes have become sterile, although only intellectually and not biologically – damn, you can’t have everything – especially when it comes to economics. I mean, seriously, when was the last time that the left generated anything new in terms of economic thinking?

Marx? – 19th Century.

What about Keynes? – Pre-World War II.

How about Seldon’s ‘Third Way? – Neoliberal economics in a cheap suit.

And, again, the right are not much better off – Neoliberalism might not have hit its stride until the 80s but the thinking behind dates back to the 50s and its starting to show its age.

Broadening things out just a little, what is there that’s even remotely new on the political scene?

Managerialism? – Nope, that kicked off in the 1940’s and its key tract, James Burnham’s ‘The Managerial Revolution’ provided some of the inspiration for Orwell’s 1984.

What about Neoconservatism? – 1970s, although it been argued that its has its roots in Trotskyism, but that’s another story and, in any case, one of it leading lights, Francis Fukayama, has already cut and run (in 2002) and has since equated it with Leninism in an essay in the New York Times in 2006.

How’s that for a paradox. We got a political class that’s obsessed with novelty, newness and modernity and not a single one amongst them has any ideas of a more recent vintage that the 1970s.

And that’s irritating enough, but its not the whole story and what you’ve also got to factor into the equation are the dolts and dullards who fervently believe all this crap to the exclusion of all sense and reason.

Do we need to spell it out or will a general characterisation do? We’re talking here about the kind of people who think that whatever is they happen to believe in, whether its a particular religion, a political ideology or even an economic theory, amount to a universal grand theory of everything and the world would inevitably be much better place if only there even more of whatever it is they believe in and everybody in the world believed the same thing they do.

But even that’s not the full story because every so often some of these people get into positions of power and authority or their ideas spread and come to permeate and then dominate a particular sphere and suddenly their grand theory of everything gets put to the test and, eventually, found wanting because there isn’t a single grand theory of everything or, to be more accurate, if there is such a theory then it’ll consistent of several blackboards worth of shit-kicking mathematical equations that serve to unify Einsteinian relativity and Quantum mechanics and, in practical terms, it’ll mean next to bugger all to virtually everyone. It ain’t going to give you the date of the second coming or tell you whether its worth cutting interest rates to stimulate the economy or how many tractor factories you should be buliding in the next five years.

Political, economic and religious ideas are born within a particular context, they reflect a particular reality and a set of conditions, one that existed in a particular location and at particular time. The more successful ideas tend to be those that are expressed in terms that are general enough to allow for a bit of wiggle room, a bit of adaptation here, a bit of reinterpretation there to try to fit in with the world around them but they can never fully escape their origins, they have limitations, there are things that could be predicted at the time the idea was formed and these couldn’t be allowed for with sufficient flexibility to allow those limitations to be overcome. So we shouldn’t be surprised at all when someone gets into a position to give Marxism a go and it doesn’t result in a stateless utopian dreamworld any more than we should be surprised that Jesus hasn’t popped back for his (by some) long anticipated second visit or that that the deregulation of markets doesn’t automatically create free and fair competion, sometimes it just turns them into a playground for the venal and corrupt.

None of this means that any of these ideas are utterly wrong or complete without any foundation (except the second coming thing, of course) it just means that they’ve run into to something they hadn’t counted and need to be rethought even if it means chucking out a few preconceptions along the way.

But that’s not how things work in practice, not when it comes to the ‘true believers’ and one of the best illustrations of that is to be found in what became known as ‘The Great Disappointment‘.

The story itself is straightforward enough. In the mid 19th Century, a Baptist preacher named William Miller made a prediction of the approximate date of the second coming (sometime between 21 March 1843 and 21 March 1844) and a lot of people swallowed it wholesale. Naturally enough, the 21st March 1844 passed and the ‘Big J’ hadn’t turned up which rather confused a lot of the people who’d swallowed Miller’s story. A few months later (August) Samuel S Snow announced that after a bit of ferreting about in Biblical texts everything was going to fine after all and the ‘Big J’ would be appearing live on the 22nd October – and, again, he pulled an Amy Winehouse and no-showed the gig.

Now, to a sceptic the answer here is obvious, Miller and Snow were off with the sky-fairy and there was nothing at all special or significant in any of these date – they just got it plain wrong – and that’s how some of Miller’s followers took it but not others. In their eyes Miller had to right even if the event he predicted didn’t happen and out of this emerged a number of interesting if extremely specious rationalisations and attempts to salvage the ‘prophecy. There was at least one more attempt at resetting the date of the second coming, which failed (obviously); some settled on the ‘shut door’ belief, which held that humanity ‘probabtion’ had ended on that date and that only those who lived a pure and entirely blameless life would, henceforward, get into heaven. That one died out pretty quickly as people cottoned on to the fact that if that we true then repentence was no longer a cosmic cop out for the sinner and they went off to form the Advent Church and cook up the idea of ‘soul sleep‘ and others went off to found the Seventh Day Adventist Church and came up with the doctrine of ‘investigative judgement‘, a rather curious exercise in cosmic bureaucracy, to cover their embarrassment. Oh, and there were some who decided that Jesus was going to come back on that date but changed his mind when he realised just how people there were who still weren’t Christian, which made his no show everybody else’s fault.

Today we call this kind of thing ‘cognitive dissonance‘ – people get uncomfortable and stressed in situations where they have to try and hold on to two seemingly contradictory ideas at once so they reject one of them even though both may be true. A good example of this in a modern context can be found in the reaction you get amongst hardcore Thatcherite Tories when you start to point out that most of negative social outcomes they traditionally blame on the liberal culture of the 1960’s don’t actually start showing up in earnest in the socio-political and socio-economic data until the 1980s.

To some the admission that Thatcherism had negative as well as positive consequences, that it created problems as well as solved them is tantamount to heresy. That can’t accept that idea in the same way that many of Miller’s followers could not accept that he’d just got the date of the second coming completely wrong because to accept that as true would be to fatally undermine their belief in the fundamental ‘rightness’ of Thatcherism. It has to be either all good or all bad, it can’t just have limitations, things it couldn’t deal with and didn’t have all the answers for. It;s these same people who firmly believe that we’d all be sitting here today approaching in the 30th year on unbroken Tory rule if only the party had stuck with her in 1990, that the Tory’s gradual slide into opposition under Major was a sign that the party had deviated from the ‘true path’, that Hague, IDS and Howard failed to retake power because their eiher failed to get the Thatcherite message across or were undermined in their efforts by the ‘wets’ and the Europhiles and if and when Cameron takes them back to the ‘promised land’ he’ll either have to accept the fundamental rightness of their beliefs or be pushed aside.

One can see much the same psychology in Labour ranks, in the hard left refusal to take the hint after the 1983 election debacle and today amongst the ‘uber-Blairites’ some of whom firmly believe that if only the Maximum Tone were still in charge and hadn’t been hamstrung in the pursuit of his ‘vision for Britain’ by the Brownites, the Unions and other fully paid-up members of the awkward squad then Labour would be well on the way to a fourth term and smashing the upstart Cameron and the entire Tory Party into political oblivion, after which the glorious leader would hoover the Lib-Dems, annoint a successor of his personal choosing and establish a Blairite hegemony that would last for a thousand years, and still get home in time to give Cherie a good seeing to and defeat Mohammed Ahmadinejad in hand to hand combat.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating for effect – well, some of its an exaggeration – but the serious point is that there are people in positions of power and authority who have just such a rigid view of the world and who use their position to promote those who see the world in much the same way into other positions of power and authority around them. They may well talk endlessly about change and reform and modernisation but they lack the most basic and fundamental prerequisites necessary to bring about that change, the ability to realise that the world is changing around them, that they don’t have all the answers and that some of the things that used solve problems for them no longer work, not because they’ve never worked but because they’re outdated and no longer relevant.

These people and their ideas are the arterial plaque of the political system and every once in a while they, and their ideas, do need to be flushed out but to do that you need not only someone to do the flushing but some fresh ideas to flush the old ones out with.

We’ve come a long way from ‘re-thinking’ Obama but the fact of the matter is that I don’t expect that he’ll be a disappointment because I don’t have that much in the way of expectations to begin with. If he wins the election, the presentational style of politics in Washington will change and with a bit of luck we may see the US taking a more nuanced and subtle approach in its foreign policy but as to whether we’ll see an significant changes in content and substance, I doubt that very much. There are too many variables and too much that lies outside of Obama’s control both globally, where the idea that national governments can control or direct the markets has been an illusion since at least the 1960s, and domestically where the devolved nature of the US political system with its Federal and State governments and its municipal authorities streching right down to the level of elected sheriffs, judges and school boards, make the system too diffuse to effect real change.

As for Britain, that’s a bit of different matter. The system doesn’t work against us to anything like the same extent. In fact, the drive towards the centralisation of power on Westminster should, theoretically, work in our favour. It is still possible to drive change from the top, even devolutionary and democratising change if only those at the top are genuinely committed to that kind of far-reaching change which they’re not – and you only have to look at the utterly self-serving approach taken by both Labour and the Tories on the reform of party-funding for proof of that.

There are things to be learned from the netroots movement, certainly, but also things to be done before those lessons are put into practice. What we can’t afford to do is what Labour members did back in the mid-1990s when they close ranked behind Blair to win an election without having any clear idea of what he really stood for – which turned out to be not much more than whatever’s necessary to win the next election and principles be damned. Just look at the speed with which he sold out to the Daily Mail on immigration after the 2005 election – do we really want to risk that happening again.

There’ll be a time and place for liberal and left-wing bloggers to close ranks and put everything behind a push for victory but that time isn’t now – we need the ideas first and, fortunately enough, that may just turn out to be playing to our strengths and into the right-wing blogosphere’s key weaknesses.

For all its been right-wing bloggers who’ve emerged to become the ‘big boys’ of the blogosphere to date, in terms of traffic, if you look at whose sprinted clear of the pack and the kind of politics and political thinking they represent then, for the most part, you’ll find that they add very little to the political process by way of ideas or original thinking. Most of the top echelon of the right-wing blogosphere operate from with what are markedly orthodox conservative positions – its only really when you get out into the ‘fringes’, amongst the smarter Libertarians and the Witans, that’s you’ll find that much original thinking. Amongst the rest, give or take the fact that Guido prefers to play court jester rather than fully exercise his libertarian sensibilities most of the time, what you’ll find in mostly loyalty to the cause or the kind of semi-Thatcherite orthodoxy that’s been apty dubbed ‘Continuity IDS’ plus the occasional bonehead who knows how to repeat all the libertarian rhetoric, parrot-fashion, having picked it up from the trolls over at Guido but, in reality, wouldn’t know the difference between Freidrich Hayek and Salma Hayek unless one of them tried shag them.

On the liberal-left, centre-left or independent left – whichever term you prefer – things look a lot different. We don’t, at this stage, generate the kind of traffic of a Guido, Iain Dale or Con Home but then no one over here, except maybe Recess Monkey, has been trying to play then at their game. There’s very little overt courting of Westminster elites and the political lobby and a lot more debate around issues of policy, philosophy and ideas – it might not be the stuff of the ‘netroots’ movement but it is generating ideas and fresh perspectives on left-wing politics and although much of it is not formally attached to any one political party, as yet, it is closer to the mainstream of liberal and left-wing politics than the Liberatarians and Witans are to the Conservative mainstream under Cameron.

The real difference between the Liberal-Left and Right-wing blogosphere isn’t a matter of popularity, audience share, or the amount of traffic that some bloggers and it isn’t about personalities, style, or pandering to the denizons of the Westminster Village, its about being in a very different place to the right in terms of ideas and about exerting a very different kind of political influence to that which the current ‘big dogs’ of right-wing blogging have been aiming for. They want a change of government, we’re looking to create a change in philosophy, to re-engineer liberal-left politics for the 21st century.

It’ll be interesting to see which turns out to be the better route in the long run.

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'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Reader comments

1. douglas clark

Two things to say here.

Firstly, that is an excellent analysis. I don’t know what you think about the Global Warming challenge, but there seems to be a systemic political problem in dealing with it. Neither the left nor the right appear to have thought it through. So, all I’m saying is that 20th C political philosophies seems to come up short when some new ‘event’, as McMillan said, comes along.

I’d been thinking a bit about Sunnys’ post, and one possibility that I didn’t see mooted, was turning this blog into an on-line Think Tank. I genuinely think that there is more original thought coming from the various authors here than there is from more traditional fora. Policy Exchange comes to mind.

You said:

There’s very little overt courting of Westminster elites and the political lobby and a lot more debate around issues of policy, philosophy and ideas – it might not be the stuff of the ‘netroots’ movement but it is generating ideas and fresh perspectives on left-wing politics and although much of it is not formally attached to any one political party, as yet, it is closer to the mainstream of liberal and left-wing politics than the Liberatarians and Witans are to the Conservative mainstream under Cameron.

I’d also agree with Sunny that it is not enough to simply argue amongst ourselves.

For instance, the arguement over 24 weeks was passionately argued and arrived at what I thought was an intelligent and well informed consensus. Equally, the arguement against 42 days was informed and right. I suppose I would say that though, wouldn’t I?

So, what I am proposing is that where there is a consensus here, which is almost always fact driven, it should be submitted to government or publicised through the media, in the same way that traditional think tanks do.

Sorry if this is a bit off topic.

2. anotherplanet

Um… the thinking behind neoliberalis dates back to the 1850s rather than the 1950s.

To summarise:

the left hasn’t come up with many good ideas lately, especially on economics. I agree with that.

The left hasn’t come up with that many ideas per se in the last few decades… I also agree with that.

You then go on to a question about whether this is the time to look inwards:

There’ll be a time and place for liberal and left-wing bloggers to close ranks and put everything behind a push for victory but that time isn’t now – we need the ideas first and, fortunately enough, that may just turn out to be playing to our strengths and into the right-wing blogosphere’s key weaknesses.

I agree with this, but my point here isn’t about ideas. I’m fully aware that the left is bereft of many ideas at this moment. Not that the right is any better, though the ToryHome bloggers seem to have convinced themselves hilariously that their recent poll successes is down to some intellectual revolution on the right.

We definitetely need more ideas and thoughts here – not going to deny that. But thoughts and ideas can be differentiated from strategy.

One of the things I want to do is start drawing attention to important election campaigns or races across the country we should be paying attention too, and if possible throwing some resources behind.

Thats very different to having arguments over ideas on here…

I don’t see how either the left or the right can actually ever have any new ideas, simply because they tie themselves down to existing definitions of left and right.

The only way to have new ideas is to liberate yourself from any preconceptions you hold about what can, will or must work and you start experimenting.

If you can practise what you preach and you never need to make adjustments, then you’ll never have any complaints. If you complain it’s because you can’t work out what the adjustments you need to make are, or you don’t know where to find them.

My advice is to stop worshipping any golden calves you might have.

I’m baffled that anyone would say the left hasn’t had any good ideas recently.

There’s participatory economics from Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel (1990), economic democracy from David Schweickart (1992), participatory planning from Pat Devine (1988), the pluralist commonwealth discussed in Gar Alperovitz’ “America: Beyond Capitalism” (2005), the idea of participatory democracy that is gaining ground, including things like the Porto Alegre participatory budget which started in 1989, and versions of which are now being tried around the world including in the UK, and don’t forget the citizen’s basic income idea championed by Liberal Conspiracy’s own Chris Dillow which is also supported by the Green Party. And I’m sure that’s not an exhaustive list, not even close.

Dan, none of those ideas are particularly new and I’m not sure all of them qualify as being on the ‘left’. What is new is that there is a level of practical experimentation, though I’m sceptical about their long-term success.

I know it’s a bit tangential, but Norway’s “Petroleum Fund” , established in 1996 (and currently worth c. £212bn) was a pretty good idea…although even they are going to have to restructure their pension provision a bit…by about 2060! (according to the OECD)

Arguably a bit “left”, too.

Just a thought…

thomas, no they’re not completely new but Sunny said the left hadn’t had any ideas in the last few decades, and Unity seemed to be saying that Keynes had the last new economic idea on the left.


If you discount Seldon – and I do – then Keynes was the last left-wing economist whose ideas permeated the thinking of the left’s political class and influenced policy.

There’s been a fair bit of new thinking since but very little has found its way into policy and, as importantly, ideas that have been around for a while but which need to be reassessed and brought up to date have been simply discarded.

Marx’s work on structural instabilities in capitalism stands up even if state socialism has been discredited.


No that’s not tangential at all, in fact I mentioned it in the previous article I posted here.

Sovereign wealth funds are an interesting development in the sense that they provide a way for the state to be an actor in the financial markets other than as a regulator or via taxation.

Why this hasn’t had that much attention to date is, I suspect, largely because the most well known SWFs have tended to be those of the Arab States and, more recently, Russia and China and so they’ve tended to be seen either as rich men’s playthings or as political vehicles, even though Norway’s is the second largest in terms of assets and does function as a social investment vehicle.

I haven;t looked at the number to see if this is viable – although Chris Dillow and Vince Cable seem to think it is – but one of the option for the future of Northern Rock would be to rebuild it rather than run it down to be sold off, and if the government were to transfer it to a British SWF then you’ve got quite a nice little asset to get thing started down the road of the Norwegian model.

“Marx’s work on structural instabilities… stands up” only because he wasn’t developing many original thoughts of his own – he was popularising a long body of others’ work by applying them to more practical purpose.

It is to Marx’ personal credit that the theoretical work he did was backed up by political activism which helped transfer academic analysis into the mainstream of real political debate, it is to his and society’s eternal discredit that it was necessary for him to choose a side in order to do so.

I mean it’s like saying that the left-right divide started in the nineteenth century!

Unity, OK I see what you mean. I completely agree. Especially about dismissing Seldon. 😉

It seems to me that over the last several decades – if not longer – there have been two significant political trends.

One is a very slow drift in a vaguely libertarian-ish direction, and the other a decline of belief in the ability of governments to manage the economy.

Blair attempted to accomodate his Party to these changes, but was a lot more successful at persuading the electorate than his party. That is not too surprising because it is all very easy to demand “new ideas”, but as soon as you try to change things, the people who will be hurt by it complain. Not to mention the people who could be benefited more, if you listened to their complaints.

The Thatcherites found it easier to be radical because the interests that they were damaging (trade union leaders, for example) had little influence within their Party.


Can’t see the current bunch being too keen on that, given the way they’ve dealt with the rail franchises they’ve had to take over…the idea of ‘successful state assets” is such anathema to the PFI dogma.

nor the majority of the electorate, to be honest. I mean, British people voting for what amounts to “a relatively smaller absence of jam in several tomorrows’ time”…?? 🙂

Unity’s analyis is basically right. This is why I have [reluctantly] abandoned the Obama bandwagon. I was involved with the Dukakis campaign in 88. We could have won that election if Dukakis had capitalised on Bentsen’s skewering of Quayle, and had taken the fight to the Republicans. But Dukakis was too afraid: only in the last 10 days of the campaign did he stand up proud and defiant and say, “Yes I am a liberal” — and from that point onward his poll ratings climbed steadily, but there wasn’t enough time left til election day for him to catch up with Bush.
I was more peripherally involved with the Clinton-Gore campaign in 92. I saw the birth of the New Democrats — and what a horrible sight it was. The night of the election, I removed my Clinton-Gore bumper sticker, realising that now I would be going instantly into opposition — but I had no idea just how bad it would be, just how total the sellout would be on old growth forests and healthcare reform, just how spineless would be the policy on gays in the military or HIV/AIDS victims in Guantanamo, just how vicious would be the foreign policy (most notably, the half million Iraqis that Clinton and Albright sentenced to death), and so on.
I saw the New Democrats, and wept for the future of British politics. I told all my friends back in Britain not to believe in New Labour at all, not to make the same mistake — but they were too desperate to get rid of the Tories; they didn’t listen. Blair came in and all that I had said to them turned out true, and years later one after the other they confessed that voting in New Labour had been a total waste of time, just a betrayal to a new Thatcherism.
I counselled Paddy Ashdown to seize the opportunity provided by the vacation of the Left by Labour, to become the Party of the Left in Britain; he didn’t have the courage or will or backing to do it. So I finally left the Libdems.
Unity’s analysis is right. And there is one Party in this country and in America that, small though it is, offers a real future, a future that is not just another sellout. Supporting the Green Party allows one to keep one’s integrity, to make direct real political progress, and to put strong political pressure on the ‘mainstream’ Parties, all at the same time. Greens can get elected, and even when they don’t or can’t, they make the ‘mainstream’ Parties move in the direction of environmental sustainability and social justice, to avoid losing votes.
I wish Obama luck, and, in a choice between him and McCain, I hope he wins. But an Obama adminstration promises at present to be little more than warmed-up Clintonism – look how little policy difference there was between Obama and H. Clinton in the primaries. Clinton-redux is no prescription at all for the world’s utterly-vast problems at present. The very minimum we need is a new Roosevelt. A Green New Deal. If Obama called for that, he might get some real traction; he might not disappoint entirely the vast expectations that have now been inflated around him; he might not be so floored by a vacuous ultra-right fluke like Palin.
Until he does, I say: I cannot honestly campaign for / advocate for voting for this man. It was a mistake to back Blair, it was a mistake to back Clinton: there is no point right now expending energy backing Obama either.

15. douglas clark


So you are enraptued? Willing to die for the Sarah Palins of this world? I”d say you have choen the wrong side, but then, I don’t want religious nut jobs on the trigger. They are only too willing to enrapture thee and me. And, I don’t know about you, but threatening nuclear anihillation is not actually an intelligent option, is it?

Still, and all, you see the McCain / Palin ticket as sensible? You thus think that the bully will always suceed. For the threat of nuclear war, which is what the McCain / Palin nexus offers, is a win win bet? Tell that to the Chinese.

I don’t think so.

We are not is the sensible position that you suggest. It is not as if the Greens are likely to win the next Preisential Election, is it?

You have to make a choice between folk that believe the first option is the ‘illuminated parking lot’ which is the Republican modus operandi, and the somewhat less aggressive Democratic opinion.

Sarah Palin is mad, so she is.

Douglas, please read my guest post here at http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/09/03/the-true-tory-colours-come-out/ , to see how much I abhor the Palin-McCain monstrosity.
But two wrongs don’t make a right. The lesser or two evils is still … evil. It is sometimes worse.
e.g. Clinton pushed NAFTA through, the first and worst instance of his dreadful strategy of ‘triangulation’; a Republican President wouldn’t have been able to get it through on the fast-track. No Clinton, no NAFTA. Not having NAFTA would have made the world a much better place.

I’m wondering how long it will be before you feel betrayed by the Green party as well, Rupert. Perhaps then you’ll be brave enough tostand up for what you truly believe in and found the Rupert party.

18. douglas clark


Apologies to you on two counts.

Firstly, I had read your guest post. I had simply failed to tie it to you. That guest post had me nodding along in agreement. I’d only like to say that it is now worse than that and that she seems quite willing to threaten global peace by playing chicken over Georgia. Perhaps she thinks it’s a US State?

Secondly, I hadn’t realised you are a politician. So I suppose I should cut you some slack in terms of nuanced debate. For your amusement, the Tory candidate in Glasgow East thought they were ‘in with a chance’. How we laughed. It is about as realistic as assuming Nader is going to come through the middle and win the Presidency. So, you have to chose.

Anyway, it is fine to hang onto principles, but it ain’t realpolitic.

From a merely selfish point of view, I’d prefer any US President that believed in diplomacy as the first resort in international disputes. The Republicans are, in my honest opinion, completely off their collective trolleys.

Why is NAFTA such a bad thing? In the world at large, I can think of quite a lot of worse evils than a trading partnership.

NAFTA brought about a race to the bottom in North America, with environmental and labour laws etc. being over-turned in the name of trade freedom. It was (is) a particularly nasty example of globalisation (as opposed to what we Greens recommend – localisation).
GATT, the WTO, NAFTA: they outlaw such basic humane possibilities as having dolphin-safe tuna. They are good for big business, and that’s about it.
How are the Democrats fallen…

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  1. » A Revolution of Ideas Though Cowards Flinch: “We all know what happens to those who stand in the middle of the road — they get run down.” - Aneurin Bevan

    […] Semple in General Politics, Labour Party News There’s an awesomely quotable article over at Liberal Conspiracy, written by Unity, on the need for new ideas. Whether Conservative or Labour, old and new, Unity is […]

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