LC Mission Series: part 1 – Building a new Left Movement


8:30 am - February 19th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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The biggest mistake The Left made in 1997, when New Labour came to power, was to assume their job was done. Actually it had just begun. The job was to keep putting pressure on the government to follow a leftwing agenda. Instead the Left was absorbed by the newly elected party and there was no opposition to their right-ward shift.

What we lack is infrastructure. An infrastructure that can be cranked up continually to force governments to pay attention.

It was never really built because it was assumed the Labour Party was the left. It was assumed that getting into power and holding on was beneficial for the left. Why? Because it was assumed there was no difference between the two.

But that is no longer true. On many issues the Libdems and Greens are far more progressive, and there are tons of people who see themselves a progressive/left-wing/liberal but aren’t part of any political party. How can they make themselves heard?

What I’m trying to do here is lay out some sort of a vision for Liberal Conspiracy. What is this site about? what sort of content should it publish? Where is it going? What is it’s raison d’etre? I want to try and answer some of those questions.

This site has grown tremendously over the last 2 years and our last month: January 2010, was our most popular month ever with over 105,000 visitors.

Let’s just say we’ve shaken up the blogosphere a bit since launching.

But this is a community space so I want to involve you, those who consider themselves on the left, to be part of the conversation. This intro isn’t about what the left stands for (that’s later) or a concrete plan of action, it’s about infrastructure.

Liberal Conspiracy’s mission can be divided into four areas I think: infrastructure, ideology, advocacy and news.

Building a new Left Movement
Trade unions used to be the backbone of the left-wing infrastructure. And while I believe in the Trade Union Movement, they no longer have the numbers and they’re too tightly affiliated with New Labour.

The Left Movement is bigger than the Labour party. And it needs its own infrastructure: community organisations, advocacy groups, media outlets, email lists, think-tanks and more. That includes the trade unions but now it needs to be so much more, and outside the Labour party.

Our aim at LC is to be part of that infrastucture: to help build it, publish news and opinion as a media outlet; and advocate for more coherent left-wing ideas.

You may have seen: we’re doing a lot more newsy posts now. In the coming weeks and months this will be expanded: we’re going to focus much more on publishing news (more later) and being more a news and advocacy blog than a place for just opinion.

But what about ordinary people?
Let’s be clear about this: Liberal Conspiracy is not for your average punter on the street. Most people don’t read politics every day or follow what’s going on in Westminster closely. So that’s not our audience.

We’re also not a political party so the aim here is not to try and reach out to voters. The aim here is to speak to and build a Left Movement. Simple as that. Our aim is to figure out the best way to counter and destroy the Right. That doesn’t require that we talk to everyone in the country. We just need to be more strategic about who we talk to.

How do you hope to have impact on national politics?
This site will never advocate for one political party in its entirety. We publish content by Labour, Libdem and Green party members. Many, including myself, don’t even belong to a party. We will and should be advocating for left-liberal candidates of all parties however. More on this closer to the election.

And this isn’t a plan for the next election: this is a long term plan to help build a left infrastructure. As that grows, so does our influence on politics.

We face a tightly organised conservative machine aided by a growing group of advocacy organisations that further their agenda.

The mainstream media continues to do an extremely poor job of challenging the incoming Tory administration and remains vehemently anti-left. And the grassroots Right has become more tightly organised and coherent over the last couple of years.

So I want to re-start a conversation about how LC fits into all this and how the online space can help revive and build a new Left Movement. I’ll be writing next about the sort of content we plan to publish on LC (and how you can help) and more thoughts.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Alisdair Cameron

This site will never advocate for one political party in its entirety

But you have come terribly close sometimes, Sunny. I think a genuine re-start would entail a repudiation of all the major parties (the existing party structures are wholly incompatible with what I think you’re aiming to advocate), and in doing so of most of the personnel at the tops of them, be that New Con (easy for most here to reject) or New lab (a helluva lot harder for some of the tribalists here to do: they still try and deflect necessary and vital criticism of New Lab by whatabouttery over the Tories. Yes, the Tories are vile, but that mustn’t mean blithely backing the iniquities and inequities of New Lab).
n.b. this is not an anti-politics stance, which is wholly negative. Change is, I believe possible, but not if good ideas and initiatives get ignored, or worse,hijacked and twisted by Lab or Con to their self-serving ends. There’s no point waging a long drawn-out campaign, say, to recapture the Labour party-the likes of Purnell, Balls and the Milibands,all complicit in betraying the Left and the masses are too strong within the party’s rotten structure, and it would be a futile waste of effort trying to seize their bunker.Instead it has to be more of a guerilla/hit-and-run process, topic or issue by issue, aimed at all.Get the ideas battles won, and the structures of the parties (bunkers and all) become irrelevant.

Good morning,

Thanks for setting this out so eloquently, Sunny. It’s good to know that you’re thinking hard about this issue.

Of course, I’d love you to direct your considerable attention to critically supporting the Labour party, but in the current circumstance that isn’t going to happen, so I hope that one day between us we’ll have created a party where more of the Left feel they have a place. That’s certainly one of the things I work for inside the Labour party (even though in a general election year, being ecumenical is hard!).

Two points about what I want from LC. Firstly, I’d really like you to sharpen up your interest and analysis around social policy – specifically poverty and social justice. It’s obviously important to post on politics, foreign policy and civil liberties etc, but where this blog could carve a niche out is in demonstrating that the Left remains compassionate and concerned to come up with solutions to poverty and inequality and highlight the lives of people outside the bubble and outside the mainstream. I’ve always enjoyed the posts by some of your contributors on these issues, and urge you to seek more. To this end, emulating the CSJ and providing a platform for some of the great organisations working at the sharp end to end poverty and other social problems may be a way to broaden out your coverage – how about featuring Eaves’ Poppy Project; Anawim in Birmingham; Peacemaker in Oldham; or Kalayaan in London. Too often people come to the left through single issues – university funding, anti-war protests, immigration concerns – and helping them understand the range of issues that need to be transformed would be a useful service to building a cross-issue left. The biggest gap for me on the modern left is around class, poverty and inequality, so I’d urge you to focus on that.

Secondly, if I want Westminster bubble news, I won’t come to you. Others already have that covered, and I wouldn’t bother developing that competence. Why don’t you think more about the stories that others don’t pick up – regional stories, for example? I know far too much about what Boris is doing (although I don’t even live in London) and next to nothing about the way that our other cities and regions are faring. Yesterday I was in Birmingham, hearing about a failing city administration putting children at risk – and yet despite two children dying in the past month from abuse or neglect, there is almost nothing about that city in the media.

1 quick thought:

The importance of the Trades Unions to the traditional (i.e. Labour) left has been that they provide the cash.

The Tories have Ashcroft, other wealthy donors and corporate backers. Labour always had the union subs.

Money really matters in politics. I don’t think we wan’t to be so dismissive of trades unionism. Rather, rebuilding a form of neo-trades unions movement would be a very sensible thing to do because it would solve e.g. the huge funding problems that the Labour party is currently faced with.

After all, you don’t think Thatcher crushed the unions until they bled just to get revenge for Heath’s humiliation and to restructure the economic base, do you? No. She did it to fuck Labour’s finances up as well. And it worked, though it’s taken a long time for the seeds to flourish.

4. Golden Gordon

Sunny lovely idea.
It won’t work because the right and left are a plethora of different groups, agendas and ideas.
The reason we vote is mainly negative. Most of the righties on this site don’t have much common APART from a common hatred of the left in particular the Labour Party. Hence that is why they vote Tory.
Mrs T great political skill was too keep the Tory party together and appealing to all sections of the Party (from free market porn barons (like Sullivan) to evangelist christians like Michael Green) by uniting them with a common hatred and fear of the left’
The left ditto.
I don’t particularly like Labour but as HP’s, Nick Cohen and Martin Bright are going to vote Tory. I can’t be on the same side as those creeps

This common left wing party is a myth.
Because as the great men said
“Were all individuals”

5. Mike Killingworth

The first three comments illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of Sunny’s project.

What I have always thought LC would be best at is teasing out the debate between the likes of AC and I on the one hand, and the Antonias on the other. Like AC I think Sunny is closer to Antonia than he likes to make out. And I suspect that neither of them can remember the Labour governments of the 60s and 70s – well, I know Sunny can’t 😆 – and this leads to a psychological need to pretend that what was elected in 1997 was in any way left-wing. It wasn’t. Ask Bob Marshall-Andrews MP to do a guest post if you want this cleared up. And I think it should be.

As to LC’s becoming a kind of on-line newspaper – which existing one is going to have most to fear from that? I am thinking of the weeklies/monthlies which can now effectively go daily on-line if they want to. So: is it to be the Staggers, Tribune, Morning Star or Red Pepper? A proper business plan would know and know why.

Which leads to Paul’s comment, and the money question. AFAIK the costs of LC are borne by Sunny alone. It’s his bat and his ball. That’s fine – all his right-wing competitors are sole traders too, I believe – but I think it would be useful if he would come out and say why he thinks that’s the best legal form for what he wants to do – I’m not saying it isn’t – merely that practising what you preach would suggest that something more collective merits at least consideration.

The righty agenda is well served by the endless bleatings about how things used to be better and now its all gone to the dogs. This plays well to a superficial, aging population. Of course its nonsense and needs to be deconstructed in order to be debunked (how much that is wrong today can be directly attributed to Thatcher? I may be just a tad prejudiced but I even blame her for dog shit).

Telling people the truth about how we need to change, instead of the current tory marketing blather playing on disillusionment with Brown, must be a central role of any group you describe. By identifying key areas and positively addressing policy changes needed in them I would hope you could form a focus for the forward thinkers you are hoping to attract. Then, of course, you would need to publicise yourself…

I think we need to articulate what it means to be left-wing and what a left-wing movement would actually do, in positive terms – yes it is partly about destroying the right, as Sunny says, but not because of some fundamental desire to destroy half of the political spectrum but because they get in the way of our attempts to build a progressive society.

I think LibCon should be reborn as ProgCon, or ProgCore. We need to make it clear that we are blogging to put forward ideas of a progressive society – to make arguments for our ideas and counter the arguments against them.

We should also identify in more specific terms who the progressive politicians are that we support, and get them to write some comment pieces from time to time. I am concerned we will get un-progressive Lab politicians writing shit on here about how Labour is the only place for the left – but some attempt to work out how we can coordinate our efforts to put progressives into parliament.

6
As a member of the superficial aging population (oh the pain of being dismissed so lightly) despite demographically becoming the dominant group (numerically) in society. I was just about to propose that the left could appeal to the aged, given that the traditional trend of becoming conservative with age, seems to be on the decline. Especially now. when policy looks like it’s going to ‘bash the old’ who may need social care (how easy it will be to change the criteria of healthcare so that it becomes social care)
As Sunny has pointed-out, the unions are now quite weak, as well as membership being nowhere like the level it was pre-Thatcher. How this will be acheived I really don’t know, but as a socialist, appealing to major groups who are likely to be exploited/dismissed/overlooked might be a good idea.

superfically yours.
steveb

It’s quite nice writing for a website with mission statements. Half the time it’s just a case of ‘errm, here’s this thing I scribbled’, so to have those scribblings included in a mission is quite exciting. I might buy myself a superhero t-shirt.

More seriously, I’ve never really had any serious problems with LC or its direction, and I don’t expect that to change. The place has become noticably more strident and anti-tory than it was previously, but no more so that its main competitors on the right are being. There is no ‘Right Watch’ to compete with ConHome’s ‘Left Watch’, and most importantly, there’s still enough space to host my waffly shit.

I would recommend Antonia’s suggestion, though, about trying to up the ante on social policy etc. It’s the kind of thing I’ve done & would like to do more of, but doing it well often requires a lot more time and effort than a quick ‘look at this! I disagree with this!’ post. Of course, simply having lots of pieces on that issue won’t draw in the punters, so there’s a utility to having the shorter, more tabloidy news pieces as well, particularly for the twitter crowd.

As for coalitions/strategy etc, I don’t really have much to add apart from endorsing Alisdair’s observation that we need more writers from other parties. Now, there’s obviously a strong independent cabal here , and none of our Labour contributors could be described as slavish, but there’s still not as much from the Greens or Lib Dems as there could be. Some of the Lib Dems we used to have seem to have given up writing about politics altogether, and some hated the site from its very creation because it had ‘liberal’ in the title and they thought they should have sole ownership of the word. However, there’s still a deficit there which needs addressing. Also, whilst I can only name about 3 libertarian blogs which are to my taste, there are going to be issues where bloggertarians & the LibCon crowd can coalesce.

A number of good points, Sunny.

Only a couple of things.

1) You know this is an issue that I hold quite dear.

You write:
Let’s be clear about this: Liberal Conspiracy is not for your average punter on the street. Most people don’t read politics every day or follow what’s going on in Westminster closely. So that’s not our audience.

But are you absolutely sure the two cannot be re-conciled? There are a number of issues that affect everybody at the most ordinary/routiny way and the only viewpoint “your average punter” (over)hears is the one from the tabloids. You really don’t think there’s room to counteract all that?

Also I agree with pagar @3 re: the role of the Unions.

2) There is a fundamental problem hindering your (quite noble) idea of a progressive alliance built on the ashes of Labour/LibDem/Greens/unaffiliated leftists: the new-labourite proto-blairite people a-la Luis Enrique. Those so fantastically defined by this post by Enemies of Reason.

Those who, whenever there’s a debate about income, inequality, class, low wages, casualisation automatically take the side of you know who…
In my humble opinion those view are exactly at the root of what set out to undermine the entire left-wing movement since New Labour did what they did.

Finally: @2 Antonia
“Yesterday I was in Birmingham, hearing about a failing city administration putting children at risk – and yet despite two children dying in the past month from abuse or neglect, there is almost nothing about that city in the media”.

Birmingham has a Tory-led council. Last month they announced 1,300 jobcuts mainly community day nurseries and youth services across the city.
You’re right, the national media has not picked up on that at all.

Sorry if I’m not sounding very clear but I’ve got to dash to work!!! 🙁

Oh, let it be true! Sunny Hundal wants to hijack Labour with his regressive brand of angry utopian drivel?

It’s like every Tory dream come true at once.

Good start Sunny, spoken like a leader. Here are four immediate responses:

Infrastructure: does LC want to be part of a network of blogs or take over the left’s webworld? Yea, yea, I know you’ll say the first, but have you / we worked out how websites work together while being different?

Politics: personally I don’t want to “destroy” the right, even the ecologist in me knows they are an important seed bank. But on both issues – liberty – and as a democrat the right is an essential part of our society.

The state: what kind of state do we want? You skip this question (it’s a weakness of LC). The left’s assumption is that the state is benign and that once captured by an election it can be used, bent indeed, for progressive ends. It’s can’t be. A big lesson of the last ten years.

The nation: you say you’ll publish Greens, Lib-Dems etc, great, but the most progressive government in the UK at the moment (not saying much) is in Scotland. England has no voice. LC may not be for ordinary punters as you say, but their concerns must be part of the site’s concerns, and the national question matters to people. Don’t assume (as you do at the moment) that there is only one “national politics” if you want to build a new political infrastructure.

13. Mike Killingworth

There was one other point I thought about making earlier on, but is perhaps more clearly demonstrated now.

It has taken all of 2 hours 39 minutes from the original post to reach a comment from the gutter, i.e. mere personal abuse.

This is the bane of pretty much every thread I read on here and shows that the comments policy, however admirable in principle, simply isn’t working. When it comes to politics (or religion, or perhaps even medicine) there will always be cyber-vandals whose childish fantasy is to destroy sites they dislike by hurling abuse at them.

Therefore there needs to be a team of moderators who are prepared to issue yellow and red cards to such characters within an agreed framework. This is probably the strongest reason why LC can’t go on being Sunny’s private property since it’s not at all likely that he could – or would even want to, to be fair – appropriate what would at present be, in effect, a team of unpaid employees.

But be in no doubt that, if LC is to be a heavyweight, stuff like [11] to [13] – there may even have been more while I’ve been writing this – has to go.

14. the a&e charge nurse

that’s a bit unfair, isn’t it?

Sunny has put his ideas out there for everybody to comment on – that’s a good thing surely, unless you honestly believe he is not receptive to alternative points of view?

My sense is that Sunny wants to try and harness the energies of LC bloggers in order to reinvigorate, or even redefine political initiative on the left?

Ones thing’s for sure, after NuLab crash and burn (as they surely will at the next election) there will be a certain amount of jostling to tidy up the aftermath of Blairism – so why not try and be ahead of the game, eh?

Mikey,

” This is probably the strongest reason why LC can’t go on being Sunny’s private property since it’s not at all likely that he could – or would even want to, to be fair – appropriate what would at present be, in effect, a team of unpaid employees.

But be in no doubt that, if LC is to be a heavyweight, stuff like [11] to [13] – there may even have been more while I’ve been writing this – has to go.”

Surely for LC to become a heavyweight, Sunny has to go?!

16. the a&e charge nurse

[14] “The state: what kind of state do we want? You skip this question (it’s a weakness of LC). The left’s assumption is that the state is benign and that once captured by an election it can be used, bent indeed, for progressive ends. It’s can’t be. A big lesson of the last ten years”.

Excellent point – this certainly needs to be developed further.

The British left is known the world over for its ideological unity. I can’t see how this could possibly go wrong.

18. Mike Killingworth

[14][19] It makes no sense to try to develop a critique of the state in the absence of a concurrent critique of markets.

I would suggest that a reasonable starting point is that both the state and markets have the capacity to be malign and therefore both need to be monitored and restrained. Isn’t that as close to a definition of politics itself – at least in a society like ours – as we are going to get?

This would enable us to regard as “left” all those whose default position is that markets are in principle more malign than the state apparatus, and as “right” those whose default is vice versa. (I offer this as an alternative to definitions based around “equality” which run up against the difficulty of defining the term.)

Thus I can be on the left whilst still opposing the state’s desire to observe my behaviour in ever closer detail, and expressing a lively interest in the conditions in which markets work best – in terms, for example, of the self-suppression of fraud or the alignment of consumer and shareholder interest. And someone – like Cameron – can be on the right whilst retaining a lively interest in the use of state power to shape markets.

On the day in which Sunny Hundal’s sanity finally gives way and he declares himself a new Leftie Jesus, we should pause to reflect.

There but for the grace of god go I.

The thing is, it was fine when LibCon was enough to contain Sunny’s ludicrous and varied hysterical personality flaws. But now that he plans on turning himself into a full-on Leftie Jesus, and LibCon is to be the worship platform of the left’s unasked-for new Messiah, it’s perhaps time for cooler and less deranged minds to make a quiet intervention.

I nominate Sunder Katwala.

LibCon seems to me basically to be a very good site, so I’d essentially like more of the same, please.

But if we are to have changes, some of what’s said above (hello, Antonia!) is sensible. Personally, I’d like to see (i) tougher moderation policies with respect to the trolls to get a better signal to noise ratio in the comments and (ii) many fewer references on this site to the most tiresome rightwing bloggers (Guido, Dale, Dorries, esp.), who just aren’t worth anybody’s time.

One thing that’s a bit odd in this post is the remark that ‘It was never really built because it was assumed the Labour Party was the left.’ I wasn’t living in the UK in 1997, so perhaps I’m not in the best place to comment on the atmosphere way back when, but no-one I’ve met in my life ever has ever made the mistake of thinking that the Labour Party – esp. in its New Labour incarnation – *was* the left, and I’m puzzled as to why you think that people did assume this, and who you think those people were.

[14] “The state: what kind of state do we want? You skip this question (it’s a weakness of LC). The left’s assumption is that the state is benign and that once captured by an election it can be used, bent indeed, for progressive ends. It’s can’t be. A big lesson of the last ten years”.

At the risk of making it look like Anthony’s sent over the OurKingdom brigade to second his comments (which he hasn’t!): the above is an important point.

Of course, not everyone would agree that the state “can’t be” bent for progressive ends, but it is important to bear in mind the obstacles to this. It’s not just a matter of voting in a party which positions itself on the progressive end of the spectrum; you also have to work out which forces will push them to that, and which will pull them away from it. A few of the forces which might pull them away from it: special interests in marginal constituencies, donors, even trade unions some of the time (if the National Union of Mineworkers were still around, mightn’t they try to undermine moves towards greener energy?)

Besides that, the state is a blunt instrument, not a finely calibrated spanner you can use for precision social engineering. (Though I’d accept some here will disagree with that.)

[21] “It makes no sense to try to develop a critique of the state in the absence of a concurrent critique of markets.

I would suggest that a reasonable starting point is that both the state and markets have the capacity to be malign and therefore both need to be monitored and restrained. Isn’t that as close to a definition of politics itself – at least in a society like ours – as we are going to get?”

Fair enough, but I don’t think anyone’s advocated an uncritical attitude to markets have they? Even people who are broadly ‘pro-market’ accept that many markets (trains in this country, health insurance in the States) are nothing like the ideal we’d defend. We could still push back on your equation of the state and markets above though, by pointing out the different levels of compulsion involved in each (though admittedly commuters often don’t have a meaningful choice as to whether or not to use the train, and many Americans have quite limited choices when it comes to health care).

“The state: what kind of state do we want? You skip this question (it’s a weakness of LC). The left’s assumption is that the state is benign and that once captured by an election it can be used, bent indeed, for progressive ends. It’s can’t be. A big lesson of the last ten years.”

No one on the left thinks that the state is always benign. But surely you don’t actually believe that the state can never be used for progressive ends? There’s hundreds of examples, but what about, say, the Civil Partnership Act 2004?

I agree with those who reckon the site should do more on policy. Politics should be about making people’s lives better. All too often it’s about beating the shit out of the other guy. Personally I find I often prefer substantive stuff by thoughtful right-wingers (Alex Massie, Anatole Kaletsky, the staff of the Economist) to purely puglistic stuff from the left, even if I’m more inclined to agree with it.

I think one key point in creating a movement will be to go beyond the internet. Probably a bit optimistic to have LibConCon2010, but I think some kind of face to face contact will help energize people and create a sense of being part of something.

Note: I am not saying this purely because I like pubs.

A few initial thoughts.

Alisdair – that is a bit vague. While I appreciate the idea of a more insurgent way of thinking, that still doesn’t get away from the fact there are plenty of good lefties within Labour, Libdems and Greens. I’m not sure abandoning the party system entirely would help. That really would be more anti-Westminster generally. If you have an alternative vision, you’ll have to flesh that out a bit.

Antonia – I agree with what you say. We need more policy stuff here and we need more reporting from outside the Westminster bubble. Agreed. I’ve been thinking along those lines too – though as you know policy is incredibly hard to develop a blog around.

Paul – not dismissing the trade unions at all. They will always remain part of the left. Just saying we need an infrastructure outside the unions and the Labour party.

Mike: Sunny can’t – and this leads to a psychological need to pretend that what was elected in 1997 was in any way left-wing. It wasn’t.

Where did I pretend it was?

But let’s be clear: New Labour was at least electable. The Labour party of the 70s too is no longer electable. Times have changed – people’s attitudes have moved on. That socialist constituency is no longer big enough to get Old Labour elected.

As to LC’s becoming a kind of on-line newspaper – which existing one is going to have most to fear from that?

We won’t be competing with any of the traditional left media outlets. Once you see what I have in mind, you’ll see why.

Mr Benn – completely agree with all of that.

steveb – as an electoral strategy that works, but how do you think the Left could do more on the issue?

Given that the site is called ‘Liberal’ Conspiracy, not Lefty Conspiracy, I’ve always assumed/hoped it was a coalition/destination of liberals (small L) rather than a coalition/destination of the left. Which might give it a better chance of achieving something in the way of a consensus, at least on a per issue basis.

Agree with the points above about emphasising progressive politics, and also the point about not referencing those on the right so much. Stick with talking about positive ideas, not willy-waving competitions with people or policies from ‘the other side’.

Good to see you open the debate up, Sunny. Glad also to see that, perhaps as a statement of forward direction, you simply ignore the more stupid comments above.

I also agree with Antonia that this might become a very useful site for arguing out the nuts and bolts of redistrubitive/egalitation social policy (please not refusal to use term ‘progressive’) in a way which brings some of the discussion in the specialist press e.g. Housing Today, Comm Care, New Start to life for the non-specialists but also allows this group to identify common themes around power and exploitation etc.. This can and should happen without reference to party support. I think the debate Julian Dobson at New Start is trying to kick off around this is useful, though restricted by his magazines status as ‘regeneration’ specialist (I think the term is itself a product of power abuse but that’s another story).

I’d also like to see LibCon develop a sort of ‘regional/local franchise’ sysyem. I’m sure you know what I mean – drawing the best of LibCon as a national site and driving down the debate/nees coverage to local level with local examples, and filling some of the void created by the decline of the local media. As you know, it’s at this local level that my interest really lies (though we currently disagree about the mechanics of going about it, I respect your capacity, evidenced by Libcon’s growth, to make stuff happen from nothing).

28. Rabid Racoon

I consider myself a liberal but despise this left-right BS.

FFS hating a tory policy just because the tories came up with it is childish – Ken livingstone famously and publically stole Boris’ ideas during the mayoral campaign with the comment ‘its a good idea I’ll steal’ it or something.

Your ‘the right must be destroyed’ ideology is again childish, what is the right? what specifically about it must you destroy?

I also think that half the time you are fighting a battle that ended in 1990 when Maggie left office, and hating people because they are rich is no better than rich people hating the poor, It is still pre-judging people.

If your problem is un-earned privelage then what about the senior trade unionists who have ‘paid their dues’ then from age 45 onwards accept massive salaries yet fail to effectively defend workers rights, case in point former speaker Martin.

Again on a theme of people born to privelage, if they spend their lives attempting to improve society surely that is a good thing (perhaps by standing for office), what would you rather they do, kill themselves for being born?

Or are you fighting the arisotacracy in which case you should introduce an anti-monarchist theme – The monarchy are the epitome of unearned privealge, why not fight to remove them?

Finally I don’t see how a site calling itself liberal conspiracy can continue to support a party in any way shape or form which has done more to erode civil liberties, has effectively condoned torture and entered at least 1 illegal war.

RR

claude: But are you absolutely sure the two cannot be re-conciled?

For day-in-day-out politics? I doubt it. But people will come for the news… so that will grow the pool of readers.

On point 2 – well I struggle with that. I wouldn’t write off the likes of Luis Enrique or even people like damon. Partly because it’s dangerous in my view to define the left in very narrow terms. The left has always been a broad coalition of interests: from the economically left and socially conservative WCs, to the socially and economically liberal Middle Classes.
There has to be a church that encompasses those broad groups or it’ll be too small. And it will also not reach out to enough people who may agree with us on many of the main issues.

Chris Brooke:
Personally, I’d like to see (i) tougher moderation policies with respect to the trolls to get a better signal to noise ratio in the comments and (ii) many fewer references on this site to the most tiresome rightwing bloggers (Guido, Dale, Dorries, esp.), who just aren’t worth anybody’s time.

Agree with both those points. Our concern for right-wing bloggers has gone right down. But occasionally it’s fun to give them a kicking.

Anthony:
Yea, yea, I know you’ll say the first, but have you / we worked out how websites work together while being different?

Well, I think we can all argue for things and debate each other as we do now. There won’t always be overlap (for example I’m ecstatic Purnell has resigned).

The left’s assumption is that the state is benign and that once captured by an election it can be used, bent indeed, for progressive ends. It’s can’t be. A big lesson of the last ten years.

Well – that’s an intellectual debate to be had. I think the state can work in certain places, not well in others. I’m not as statist as the Fabians, but not a libertarian either. But I don’t have to answer that question – the left has always included more libertarian and more statist thinkers.

Sunny, when did you last give Guido a kicking?

As far as I can see the process goes: you say something stupid, he points it out, everybody laughs at you, you get angry, he points it out, everyone laughs at you again.

As far as I can see, the primary purpose of LibCon is to be amused by Sunny Hundal and his hilarious antics.

I certainly don’t come here for your keen insights into politics.

31. Mike Killingworth

[25]

New Labour was at least electable. The Labour party of the 70s too is no longer electable. Times have changed – people’s attitudes have moved on. That socialist constituency is no longer big enough to get Old Labour elected.

You’re sure that “on” is the direction in which attitudes have moved, Sunny? I am not sure that I regard the fact that, during the last 30 years, race and religion have come to be nearly as important as class as sources of political cleavage as movement “on”. This is not a kind of weird semantic joke: it drives at the heart of the production of of any kind of politics to the left of UKIP, let alone the Tories. And yet you make no mention of it – nor, to be fair, did I in my previous comments.

I agree that the “socialist constituency” has shrunk: the virtues of solidarity and fraternity/sorority are disregarded nowadays. We inwardly despise ourselves, think that we are not worth “right relationship” (which in any case involves a lot of hard work we are not minded to put in, at least outside the Asian and Muslim communities) and so we settle for shallow transactions, for disposability in our dealings with others. But socialists are not so few that a progressive co-alition can be built without them, even if their role must now be much like that of the CPGB’s vis-a-vis Labour from the 1930s to the 1970s – to provide intellectual stiffening on the one hand and bodies to fight the “ground war” on the other.

The problem remains, how & why are such socialists to be engaged in a project which – at least so far – offers no guarantees that it will not be led by a con-man of the Blair/Purnell stripe, or, at best, an empty marketing construct like Obama?

Martin Coxall: Fuck Off And Get A Life.

Yes, I think the “Liberal” tag is very important, and while I think that LC should have a very much Liberal Left agenda, there are bound to be issues where we will make common cause with liberals of a more right wing persuasion. And I do think it’s important to attract comments from a broad spectrum of opinion, whether it’s people such as Luis who maybe identify more with other parts of the left or those who identify as liberal but not of the left such as Tim Worstall.
And while I agree that LC should be non-party political in the sense that we recognise that there are people in Labour the LibDems and the Greens who share large parts of our agenda, I think it is important to recognise the arguments going on within the Labour party about the direction it should take, which will no doubt intensify if it loses the election, and show support for those elements who are pushing in the kind of direction favoured by LC, and for groups such as the Fabians and Compass who have links with Labour but again share many of LC’s progressive ideas.

Sunny – and Don [23]: of course the state can be used for progressive measures. I’m not arguing for anarchism. But Sunny, it is not just an “intellectual” question. Power itself has an infrastructure, from the voting system to rights to the civil service to judges, articulated by the constitution (codified or uncodified). Think of it as the political environment.
And on websites, I’m not talking about disagreements on issues but how best to work together, building each other.

Should we rename to Progressive Conspiracy? Or Progressive Movement?

Well done Sunny. Ignore the naysayers and energy-suckers. Showing some leadership and having some ideas is no bad thing in a sea of cynicism and backward-looking (left) conservatism.

I’d agree with Anthony: “Don’t assume (as you do at the moment) that there is only one “national politics” if you want to build a new political infrastructure.”

But I’d say that there is now – even in the last three months – a much more healthy alt press and citz journalism scene for you to interact with in both Scotland and Ireland.

in solidarity
Bella Caledonia

“Should we rename to Progressive Conspiracy? Or Progressive Movement?”

Aren’t the Conservatives making a play for that ground (and as they are against the reactionary political-brawling of Mr Brown’s Labour party, they have a better claim worringly).

What worries me here is that no-one has said what the ‘Left’ stands for other than social justice (believe it or not, most right-wingers or off the scale nuts like the BNP would also claim to stand for this). I hope Sunny is trying to get round to designing a vision, something that at least gives me the chance to say ‘I’m in’ or ‘sod that, it’s not to my taste’. At the moment though the only aim is to destroy the right, which is not going to be a sound basis for any movement that does not want to be ultimately nihlistic (because once the right is destroyed, what do you do then).

Sunny,

Before you get too carried away though, might I address the phrase, “We publish content from Labour, LibDem and Green party members.”?

If that this was the case. You don’t get content from Lib Dems because those that did contribute were driven away, one by one. Your list of contributors now includes just one LibDem, and when did he last have anything published?

Given that your editorial policy in recent months has been that the Labour Party is flawed but the best solution is to build a new Labour Party, the absence of Liberal Democrats is unsurprising. The fact that you care so little about this absence speaks volumes to those of us who engaged in the early days and then drifted away in despair.

Sunny H, just like Sunny D, all the colour of liberalism but none of the substance…

@38 “Sunny H, just like Sunny D, all the colour of liberalism but none of the substance…”

How long have you been waiting to use that line…?

40. Alisdair Cameron

@ Sunny (25)

Alisdair – that is a bit vague. While I appreciate the idea of a more insurgent way of thinking, that still doesn’t get away from the fact there are plenty of good lefties within Labour, Libdems and Greens

Sunny, I don’t think waht I’m saying is that vague, nor actuallu irreconcilable with Antonia in some regards.
There are liberal thinkers in the LibDem, Green, and even the Lab andCon parties. What is detrimental is the party structures, the prevailing on-message mindsets, and the ludicrous tribalism. What should be done is a corralling and coalescence around issues and from that to policies, outside of the increasingly irrelevant party set-ups. There’s not much hope of any of the big parties changing much in the short-to-medium term, so fixating on trying to ‘fix’ them is futile, and too much on here is concerned with internal party politics, and wishful thinking. More activism on the issues, more open, ‘multi-lateral’ discussion (with snarky tribalism discouraged) with an eye to constructive policy formation.Hit-and-run guerilla tactics on issues and policies,not party-based warfare.

Regarding the aping of fascism by the Labour government, immigrant bashing leading to police state meaures, here’s an interesting tale told me by a friend at a London College…

I hear that Transport for London are collaborating with UKBA in issuing special Oyster cards to overseas students at Colleges.

These are to be used to trace the movements of students to show whether or not they attend college at the times they are supposed to. And no doubt to spy on them in terms of what they do in their spare time as well. These special Oyster cards are to be compulsory, apparently.

Using them, the movements of the students will be logged, and TFL will thus act as informants for UKBA on the movements of overseas students.

Thus Transport for London have now been enlisted as agents of the immigration police in tracking the daily lives of overseas students

How long before these methods are used against the rest of us?

These are methods that the Stasi in the old East Germany could only dream of. They are also reminiscent of apartheid South Africa.

Disgusting. Maybe this could be raised in parliament. Maybe the left and other anti-racists should initiate a picket of TFL headquarters to protest against it.

With regards to the core concerns of a liberal/progressive left blog in modern Britain, I think that, as mentioned above, social justice (and I accept this can be a bit of a woolly term) and the role of the state vs the role of markets are pretty key. Civil liberties is also a key issue, as is immigration and asylum (in the sense of providing a sensible and rational counter to the scaremongering encountered elsewhere). Of course Ian’s comment above combines the latter two and is a perfect example of the kind of thing we should be fighting against.

The aim here is to speak to and build a Left Movement. Simple as that. Our aim is to figure out the best way to counter and destroy the Right.

If that really is the aim, it is both doomed and misguided.

You cannot build a movement on a blog- all people do here is write words and express ideas. A political movement requires action and the organisation and infrastrucure to enable that action to be taken. That is what political parties are for. The purpose of communicating and debating ideas is to set the intellectual landscape in which politicians operate and, in that way, they can be effective in influencing political direction.

Destroying the opposition with insults and vitriol is also impossible. To attempt to do so is entirely unconstructive and results in repetitive tribalism at best or, at worst, the kind of intellectual nihilism to be found on a comments thread at Guido Fawkes.

I come here because I often enjoy the quality of the debate and to help to hone and develop my own opinions by listening to, and sometimes engaging with, the ideas of contributors whose intellect I respect. An intelligent and well expressed point of view has its own value and should never be disregarded or discarded because of the world view of the contributor.

LC is least interesting when it is used as a political playing field and at its best when it is exploring political thought. If the Tories win the next GE, I suspect there is going to be plenty of work to be done in analysing and deconstructing their proposed policies.

But let’s do it constructively and with an open mind and not assume it will be all bad.

That’s progressive.

I think Pagar has a point. The blog could be used to supply ideas and policies. Maybe if it had a column for events, where it listed lots of things for progressives to go to. Any online campaign these days requires a social network or an email list to send messages to people and organise them.

45. the a&e charge nurse

[43 + 44] yes, a very good point – just think how dull LC would be if all one ever heard was the endless echo of a uniform political mantra.

Pagar may be a crazy libertarian but his comments are almost always entertaining, and well made.

46. J Alfred Prufrock

Just to stray from discussions around editorials and whatnot, if you’re changing LC then an edit/report button for comment posts wouldn’t go amiss!

I mean this sincerely, but isn’t this an opportune moment to rename the website “Left Conspiracy”?

As a conflab of the left, LC does a perfectly adequate job, but as a conflab of liberalism it falls short.

I mean this sincerely, but isn’t this an opportune moment to rename the website “Left Conspiracy”?

As a conflab of the left, LC does a perfectly adequate job, but as a conflab of liberalism it falls short.

This might sound controversial, but I think this place is just as good and effective at promoting liberal thinking as Lib Dem Voice is.

I think this place is just as good and effective at promoting liberal thinking as Lib Dem Voice is.

I’m not saying it isn’t necessarily, just that it isn’t at the heart of what it is about. I mean, LC have just published an article in defence of the SWP.

I think the name is confusing and that that confusion is alienating for a lot of people.

50. J Alfred Prufrock

Doesn’t anyone around here read the FAQs??

How do you define the liberal-left? Am I part of it?
We don’t define what it means to be on the liberal-left. Instead we want to challenge conventional ideas by constantly asking: ‘what should the liberal-left position be on this issue?’ You can join in as long as you somewhat share our broad goals and aims (social justice, equality, eradicating poverty etc.)

Settles it, really.

51. Mike Killingworth

The name (or so I have always supposed) is an ironic sideswipe as those – usually found writing in the Daily Mail or some other such organ – who think that our cultural values no longer represent what Joe and Jill Public want, but have rather been hijacked by a “liberal conspiracy” based in Brighton, East Oxford and Islington.

@51 John,

Curiously, it spontaneously came to me, and I don’t know why. I do know that I’m not sad enough to hold a comment in store to be used at some point in the distant future.

That doesn’t settle anything because that isn’t what “liberalism” means. It is a fair description of what unites the left, but it isn’t left liberalism. You can’t FAQ a branding problem away.

Liberalism and the sort of state and/or revolutionary socialism advocated by a lot of the contributors to this website are irreconcilable. I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t be allowed to write such articles here; I’m suggesting that their contribution should be more explicitly acknowledged.

I see that the obsession with our name continues. No, it won’t change. You can come back to me in five years if you like James and I’ll tell you the same. It’s a brandname now – you’re stuck with it.

But more broadly – I think it highlights how territorial Libdems are over stances. If you guys engaged with LC more you’d do a better chance of reaching out to a constituency that should be yours but isn’t convinced yet. Instead the Libdems are just talking to each other and complaining why the polls haven’t moved in their direction. As a point of note – it’s likely, given the MP I have, that I’ll vote Libdem this year. To try and pretend that I’m somehow hostile to the Libdems is lame. To pretend there isn’t any overlap between left-wing think and Liberal thinking is also lame – I endorse many Libdem policies. I just choose not to see the world in the same way many of you guys do.

Mark – if you want to write for LC you’re welcome. I’ve made this offer to plenty of Libdems in fact. It’s not my fault that they decide to de-camp when someone says something they don’t like.
This is not a party political project – it would help of the Libdems also saw that.

————

I agree with those who reckon the site should do more on policy.
and
LC is least interesting when it is used as a political playing field and at its best when it is exploring political thought.

There won’t be just one kind of content on here. Try and pretend if you like but if all we posted here was content on policy and political thought – the readership would dive immediately.

So basically, like many newspapers – you get a range of content (as pointed out right at the top) : from news to advocacy to longer think-pieces.

———–

what specifically about it must you destroy?

The think-tanks, the climate denmialism, their attempts to restrict abortion rights, their fatuous moralising, their approach towards poverty, their approach towards a marriage tax, their approach towards the City… anything else? I can give you a long laundry list if you like.

————

but no-one I’ve met in my life ever has ever made the mistake of thinking that the Labour Party – esp. in its New Labour incarnation – *was* the left,

Chris you’d be amazed at how many people on the right, on the left and in the media think this. I just needed to spell it out.

———

Paul: I’m sure you know what I mean – drawing the best of LibCon as a national site and driving down the debate/nees coverage to local level with local examples, and filling some of the void created by the decline of the local media.

Ahh, it’s a bit longer in the coming that. I first need to have a range of content on here. Then I need to figure out how local reporting would work, what impact it could have and how we’d host it and make it worthwhile. I’m not saying I’m averse to it but it has to be grown organically I think.

I’ve struggled for a while as it is with expanding the content on here as it is. Going local would take up a lot more time…

————-

Mike: You’re sure that “on” is the direction in which attitudes have moved, Sunny? I am not sure that I regard the fact that, during the last 30 years, race and religion have come to be nearly as important as class as sources of political cleavage as movement “on”

I’m not arguing for identity politics here – you miss my point. I’m talking about the fact that the way the left talks about inequality and redistribution is not something that resonates much with the public. We need to re-think our language are our approach.

The series of debates we had here once the Fabian/JRRF research came out, bears this out. What percentage of the country want socialism? Maybe 15% – 20%? Do you think that will build you an electoral vehicle? No chance.

I’m not saying it isn’t necessarily, just that it isn’t at the heart of what it is about. I mean, LC have just published an article in defence of the SWP.

Ah, c’mon, it’s only fair-minded and librul to allow someone the right of reply!

I think the name is confusing and that that confusion is alienating for a lot of people.

Yeah, I can see that. Lib Dems & libertarians in particular. But, y’know, I don’t get all irate about the fact that most branches of Pizza Hut don’t actually look like huts.

My above comment was meant as a response to J Alfred Prufrock @50.

I think the site could certainly become a workable conflab of liberalism if Andrew Adams’ point @33 is taken on board:

“I think that LC should have a very much Liberal Left agenda, there are bound to be issues where we will make common cause with liberals of a more right wing persuasion.”

So far as I can tell, by far LibCon’s greatest achievement to date is to provide a space where lefties, liberals and libertarians, yes, including those who think of themselves as being on the right, can slowly realise that they have bits of common ground, even if they differ on means. Basically, they’re not establishment-bound authoritarian conservatives, who as we know can be found all over the spectrum.

Sunny:

You won’t change? Fine. But don’t then expect people to engage with your project. There are plenty of other places I can engage in.

Your argument that it is the Lib Dems’ fault that they don’t contribute here gets to the heart of how wrong headed your thinking is. If you want to build a platform for uniting the left and you only succeed in alienating a large portion of it, that is their fault how exactly? Is this really meant to be a platform for the left – the whole left – or just a platform for the select few?

On the day of your launch I was the sole token Lib Dem to be invited to the launch party, and spent half the evening being told by people that I shouldn’t really be there. It took you a year to remove the reference to Labour being the best progressive party from the FAQ.

And it isn’t about Lib Dem territorialism over the word “liberal” – it’s about calling yourself something you’re not and then spending half your time attacking the very thing that’s meant to be your defining characteristic.

I dread to think how many more “why liberalism is so bad” articles you’ll publish over the next five years.

In the meantime I will spend my time developing more productive relationships with groups such as 38 Degrees, the Equality Trust and Compass. I’m not convinced this website is espectially needed or even helpful; it certainly isn’t the hub you want it to be, nor will it be until you sort your attitude out. Feel free to blame me for having that impression, but don’t think for a second that I’m the only one.

Mike: But socialists are not so few that a progressive co-alition can be built without them, even if their role must now be much like that of the CPGB’s vis-a-vis Labour from the 1930s to the 1970s – to provide intellectual stiffening on the one hand and bodies to fight the “ground war” on the other.

I’m not saying a coalition can be built without socialists. However I think socialists should also recognise that the only hope of electing someone is centre-left at a national level – not a hard-leftie. Over time I’d like to see this country shift left-liberal in its political centre so that the Conservatives are forced to be on our territory rather than the other way round.

——–

Andrew: I think it is important to recognise the arguments going on within the Labour party about the direction it should take, which will no doubt intensify if it loses the election, and show support for those elements who are pushing in the kind of direction favoured by LC, and for groups such as the Fabians and Compass who have links with Labour but again share many of LC’s progressive ideas.

I agree with that. Although I’m not saying I’ll endorse everything they do. Our aim is partly just to give them a platform here and let people make up their own minds (and debate it) on which policy they would support or not.

——————

Tom : Of course, not everyone would agree that the state “can’t be” bent for progressive ends, but it is important to bear in mind the obstacles to this. It’s not just a matter of voting in a party which positions itself on the progressive end of the spectrum; you also have to work out which forces will push them to that, and which will pull them away from it.

I think this is a very important point. And one of the things I’d like to talk about in my next article – what we don’t talk about enough here is political strategy. We talk in broad terms about what we’d like to see, but little on what is the path to get there. I think we need more of that.

————–

Mark: The fact that you care so little about this absence speaks volumes to those of us who engaged in the early days and then drifted away in despair.

Actually I care a lot about that. I’ve since asked other LDs to write for LC and we’ve got a post going up first t hing Monday morning by a Libdemmer.

I think you misunderstand my position on who to support. I accept I can’t influence the polls at all, except sometimes the media narrative.

So if, going by the polls, the Labour party remains the only main opposition to the Tories, then I have to argue for positions that would help undermine the Tories.

There was a time when the Libdems were almost level with Labour. They had the chance and the hierarchy didn’t exploit it. So now we’re back to a 10-12pt difference. Is that my fault? Is it my fault if I think that Labour is right now the main opposition to the Tories? That is merely the state of play.

Going forward however, I’d like to see many Libdem proposals (on reducing the marginal wage, on civil liberties, on civil rights) be more widely taken up. In the same way I’d like to see many Green party proposals take up more widely. But I haven’t turned this blog into a daily mouthpiece for the Greens.

———————

What is detrimental is the party structures, the prevailing on-message mindsets, and the ludicrous tribalism.

Alisdair – yes and no. Party structures cannot be ditched, but should be reformed. Sometimes staying on message matters (especially if the media will take any straying as an example of a party split breaking out) and sometimes tribalism is useful too.

I’m not saying I hate all parts of that. But we’re left tribal for a reason. If you don’t have unity, at least in some regards, you can never build coalitions to get anything done.

25
“As an electoral strategy that works, but how do you think the Left could do more on the issue” – There’s the rub, Sunny, the difficulty in getting the message over, most (working-class) people believe that the Labour party do not represent their interests (personally I believe they are correct)
There is a school of thought that suggests that the French revolution was successfull because of its’ ability to spread the message through pamphleteering (at that time it was the cutting edge of communications) Unfortunately, we know that the majority of older people do not use the internet. which IMO is the best place to access and encourage support.

Have I missed anyone out?

James: You won’t change? Fine. But don’t then expect people to engage with your project. There are plenty of other places I can engage in.

I said I won’t change the name. If that means you, on principle, cannot engage with the site – that’s your prerogative. I’m not going to change the name now just because some people don’t like it.

On the day of your launch I was the sole token Lib Dem to be invited to the launch party, and spent half the evening being told by people that I shouldn’t really be there.

Well I think that was completely wrong of them then. I invited other Libdems too but they weren’t in London. MatGB for a start was part of the original team.

Hey I’m not denying I haven’t done enough to reach out to Libdems. But if your response is that you won’t engage because of the name, then we have a stalemate.

then spending half your time attacking the very thing that’s meant to be your defining characteristic.

I don’t. Others may not like liberalism – but as I said this isn’t just about being pro-liberal all the time – this is a broad range of left opinion, from left libertarian to left-statist.

How about we recognise that ‘Liberal’ and ‘Left’ are two sets in a Venn diagram that intersect but not everything that is Liberal is Left-wing and not everything which is Left-wing is Liberal?

Not everyone will fall slap-bang in the middle of that intersection but there’s more than enough room for most of us here – so how about not simply dismissing those who fall outside your tiny corner ‘trolls’ or ‘twats’?

And please, if I wanted to know Dale or Guido’s opinions on anything I’d teach my asshole to talk. Enough, already!

I mean, LC have just published an article in defence of the SWP.

Well that’s very liberal of you isn’t it? I suppose you won’t be writing for Comment is Free either next because it has Tories writing there.

Alix @ #57 – but I agree with what Andrew Adams said entirely. This site hosts content by Luis Enrique, Giles Wilkes (increasingly) and Chris Dillow – who are all very liberal on economic issues. But we also have a few socialists like Dave Osler and Dave Semple writing. James’ position seems to me that he won’t be writing for a site where the latter two are – and I’m sorry but I don’t buy that at all.

@Sunny

Well, great, but then maybe we have a semantic problem. Your original article talks about defeating the right, and you’ve just explicitly mentioned again being tribally left. Andrew Adams is suggesting that liberals are also found on the right so you’ll need to make common cause with them on some issues.

So which is it?

So far as I can tell, by far LibCon’s greatest achievement to date is to provide a space where lefties, liberals and libertarians, yes, including those who think of themselves as being on the right, can slowly realise that they have bits of common ground, even if they differ on means. Basically, they’re not establishment-bound authoritarian conservatives, who as we know can be found all over the spectrum.

Agreed.

The conflicts and smears tend to arise when liberals encounter issues close to the heart of the centralist left and Nu Labour apologists. At the moment, those who want to debate on the liberal/authoritarian axis rather than the left/right axis find themselves distracted and marginalised.

We should be trying to find policy progress and development on issues that unite leftists and liberals- localism, anti-corporatism, mutualism and civil liberties.

That would be a worthwhile conspiracy.

66. Mike Killingworth

[59] That’s exactly the point I was making with my choice of analogy, Sunny.

What matters – and, apart from footslogging, what socialists can and ought to do for the rest of the “progressive” co-alition – is to keep it honest. In particular, that means a clear-eyed understanding of what British interests are, and how they differ from American ones in particular. It also means not assuming that because someone is an entrepreneur, they are therefore ethical. (If anything, the default position should be the other way round. It is an exaggeration to say that people go into the private sector because they are greedy, and the public sector because they are lazy – but not all that much of one.)

And, as you know, I think that identity politics – whether of the Harman or Livingstone type – are a degradation of what radical politics is for. But then I would, wouldn’t I? I may well have told this story before, but it bears repeating. Many years ago I had a colleague who said that she was in favour of positive discrimination of people called Liz. There is an important learning in that, in terms of how human nature works. Left politics works against, not with, the grain. Otherwise – as Blair proved – it ain’t left politics.

Sunny @ #54 & 59,

Actually, most of my colleagues have never been approached by LC to contribute, although some of them were attacked by young Aaron (whatever happened to him?) for being mildly critical. We made it clear why we were going, and the silence was deadening.

I, on the other hand, are picking you up on a false claim, i.e. that content is posted by LibDem members. It isn’t at the moment. It’s lovely that one article will be, although I wait to see who it’s from before I get too excited.

Your problem is that most of us have engaged, been repelled, and found something better to do. I don’t think that we’ll be coming back. In that sense, Liberal Conspiracy has failed. You will undoubtedly respond that it is a success, and in your terms, it undoubtedly is. Whether it is all that it could be is for others to judge.

68. Donut Hinge Party

There’s a lot of wooliness around what “the left” constitutes; I remember one conversation about how Trade Unions, for example, split people. In the ’70’s, it’d be “Our communist brothers in Poland,” whereas now those self-same Poles present a very real threat to the jobs of UK workers (which I don’t blame them for.) Other splits have been around positive discrimination, Europe, feminism, financial redistribution and internet piracy.

What is needed is a proper manifesto; a series of principles that people can broadly agree with, that are broad enough to encompass the broad principles.

If I can chip in some suggestions, we can see who bites. Thesis + Antithesis = synthesis, and all that (NOT YOU, WORSTALL)

1. The state is a contract established by our ancestors to establish the infrastructure and protection that all individuals need to survive and flourish.

2. In an ideal world, all individuals should have equal life opportunities. Children should not be punished for the fortunes of their parents; even the poorest born individual is capable of great works. Where this does not happen naturally, it is right and sensible that the state should intervene.

3. It is right that those who have achieved the most in a society should return investment to that society. Taxation is the most stable way to ensure this.

4. It is right that an individual should be able to think, act or love in any way that they wish, provided that they don’t directly impact on another. The right to swing one’s fist is inalienable until it touches another’s nose. Where this does not happen naturally it is right and sensible that the state should intervene.

Just some starters based on my own prejudices.

How about we recognise that ‘Liberal’ and ‘Left’ are two sets in a Venn diagram that intersect but not everything that is Liberal is Left-wing and not everything which is Left-wing is Liberal?

Indeed – I think this site should provide a space for exploring the area where the two overlap and developing and promoting an agenda based on that. And on different issues we will no doubt have allies (and opponents) in either camp. To answer James Graham’s point, if the site has drifted away from its liberal principles (personally I’m not convinced it has) then the answer is not to change its name but to change its direction. It would certainly be nice to see writers such as Alix and MatGB back.

Well, I think the obvious answer is that I don’t see why that is couched around the state as a starting principle. The state is not the starting principle. People are, and people are capable of having interactions with each other – interactions that contribute to laudable aims including equality of opportunity – which are not governed by the state. Therefore, oh, I don’t know:

1. People are generally made of awesome, and they have a range of tools with which to implement their awesomeness and advance themselves and their fellow people. One of these is the state, another is a truly free market, another is self-organisation to social and political ends. And there are probably others too. Therefore all these things should be enabled.

This is really no more than the “happens naturally” bit of your point 2.

(That was to DHP)

Respec’ to Alix at 57, and biggin’ up Andrew at 69. I have little to add, except that “destroy[ing] the right” could only be half-achieved with a lot of confrontational propagandising. Sure, there a market for that, and, doubtless, a punch or two could be landed, but the blog would lose a lot of friends along the way.

Well that’s very liberal of you isn’t it? I suppose you won’t be writing for Comment is Free either next because it has Tories writing there.

If Comment is Free’s mission statement was to “bring together and re-invigorate the liberal-left in Britain” then I agree, I’d have a problem. But it isn’t, so I don’t.

As for the SWP needing a right to reply – they have a right to reply. It’s called the internet. Equally, anyone can write an article responding to one of the ones on my blog; just don’t expect me to publish it.

It really is a very simple request: either be about promoting and invigorating the “liberal-left” and keep the name, or admit you aren’t and drop the name. I know a large swathe of your readers and several of your contributors would feel excluded by the former, so I don’t see what is unreasonable about the latter – more inclusive – option. You can say it is about “semantics” but its actually about branding and it’s holding you back.

Andrew @69

“It would certainly be nice to see writers such as Alix and MatGB back.”

I think the problem as far as I’m concerned is the one indicated by Pagar @65. Anyone who sees authoritarian/liberal as the key axis is never going to quite gel with a movement which sees left/right as the key axis. We would indeed be “marginalised”, not as a result of deliberate intent, but simply because people who accept the left-right axis as the main one are far more numerous.

We probably should form our own movement, but I can see why we haven’t. There’s one end of the Lib Dems, another end of the libertarians, and many, many odds and sods groups like No2ID, PEN, the countless Vote For Change types things that have sprung up recently, not to mention virtually the entire skeptic community. That’s the liberal spectrum, and the things it worries about, as Shatterface said, intersect with the concerns of the left but don’t duplicate it. So if I’m going to contribute anywhere, it’ll be on the sites and to the campaigns that really reflect my core concerns.

To put it another way, if you can stomach the horrors of this approaching clause, I have a lot more in common with Guido politically than I do the SWP.

“But more broadly – I think it highlights how territorial Libdems are over stances. If you guys engaged with LC more you’d do a better chance of reaching out to a constituency that should be yours but isn’t convinced yet. Instead the Libdems are just talking to each other and complaining why the polls haven’t moved in their direction”

Bullshit.

“I’m less inclined to have more Libdems on board (as they’re over-represented) and more interested in people with interesting ideas about where the liberal-left should be going…”

Sunny Hundal, email to me, 26th December 2008, at a time when the ‘over-represented’ Lib Dems on the site consisted solely of Mat and Jennie.

The fact is that many of us – Mat, Jennie, James, Alix, myself and others, have tried repeatedly to be involved in this site, and one or two still are.

“It’s not my fault that they decide to de-camp when someone says something they don’t like.”

Actually, it’s precisely your fault. In my case it was partly because you put out content under my name that I didn’t agree with, and changed the content I *did* write, and partly because the site has repeatedly posted things that may well be ‘left’ in some sense, but that are not just illiberal but *anti*-liberal. Given the level of control you exert over the site, then *YES*, if the content of the site drives away Lib Dems, it *is* your fault. Take some responsibility for your actions, man.

I’ve genuinely grown to believe that you actually don’t know the *meaning* of the word liberal, because applying it to the context of this site makes less than no sense.

You don’t seem to understand this, no matter how often it’s spelled out: if Lib Dems become involved in something that calls itself ‘liberal’ then that’s a public acceptance by them that the word ‘liberal’ – a word which means a lot to us, because *it has an actual meaning, describing a coherent political philosophy which we happen to agree with* – is appropriate for use on that site. If you want us to join something calling itself ‘liberal’ then it has to actually *be* liberal.

I used to be a member of the Beach Boys Fan Club, and the other members, as far as I could see, were Beach Boys fans. Had I turned up to meetings and discovered they were all about discussing the music of Frank Zappa, and half the people in the club hated the Beach Boys and went into long rants about how Beach Boys fans were wankers and the Beach Boys’ music was terrible, then even though I like the music of Frank Zappa I wouldn’t have remained in that club…

76. Stuart White

James @ 73: I don’t see the problem with the SWP post. Surely LC can be oriented centrally to the liberal left and sometimes publish stuff by people on the non-liberal left and, similarly, by people on the liberal right. Indeed, that would seem to be a very good policy as a way of promoting a perspective whih aims ultimately be both authentically left and liberal – we might have things to learn, here and there, from the non-liberal left and the liberal right.

That said, maybe LC could do with a bit more from the liberal right in some areas. One gripe I have about LC recently is that the coverage of state and religion issues is a bit one-dimensionally left and doesn’t reflect the tensions and ambiguities within liberalism – the fact that some liberals would support efforts by churches to retain autonomy from the state in anti-discrimination law etc. My own views on this issue are close to the sort we usually see at LC, but I don’t see enough liberal agonizing about it here.

On Lib Dem cooperation: I wish there was more of it. The one resignation by a Lib Dem I witnessed last year (I have only read LC since early last year) did appear daft in the extreme to me. It seemed to be triggered by someone writing a piece that was robustly critical of Lib Dem propaganda in an election and giving it the mildly joshing title of ‘Those Fib Dems’. That did seem rather thin-skinned.

Tell, me what will these partisan tags mean, once all hell breaks loose?

The discussion about why LibDems, some of the non-aligned bloggers or even the Our Kingdom posters don’t contribute to LC has been a bit “technical”. I suggest that some people don’t participate on LC because they don’t find it “comfortable”.

There may be some technical tweaks to make LC more welcoming. James Graham thinks that there aren’t enough posts originating from LibDem supporters or whoever, and he is probably correct. That misses an important point, however: there aren’t enough comments from liberal lefty people who are not Labour supporters.

It doesn’t matter who posts an original piece or who submits a worthy comment. However the moderation policy is not observed sufficiently so threads meander incoherently, particularly following Conservative troll posts. I do not use the word troll lightly, because I think that well considered words from Conservative supporters are welcome. Snuffing out the obvious inflammatory comments more quickly would make LC a much more comfortable place and encourage more diverse commentary. A quiet word to some of the more vociferous Labour supporters might help too.

LC needs a bit of a culture change. Posters and visitors need to understand that LC is not a place to conduct partisan battles; it’s a place for debate, where the policies of Labour, LibDems and Greens will all be given a hard time. Changing the tone of debate is difficult, and I am not proposing a Little Green Football style purge of the awkward squad. But vigorous political debate is not an excuse for name calling or tiresome repetition of party policy.

There needs to be a bit more respect for idiot posts by other bloggers. Dale, Staines and Dorries should only be mentioned when what they say actually matters. Which is less than you might think and considerably less than they presume. And if they say something positive, don’t over do the qualifications about how evil they normally are.

It is not usually the substance of a debate that discourages people from participating; the framing and the quality of comments count far more. Look at the last ten comments in any thread. More often than not, the comments have become abusive and debate has unravelled, even though arguments remain unaddressed.

If you can change the tone of LC to be less “robust” and more “comfortable”, LC will get more diverse visitors. You might even convince James Graham that the name fits.

A couple of technical tweaks:
* On Stumbling and Mumbling, Chris Dillow has a side list to interesting blog posts elsewhere. He provides no commentary, aside from occasionally changing the title in his link. It is a good way to say “think about this”. Danny Finkelstein does a similar thing in the Times blog, providing a daily list to comment pieces elsewhere.
* Put the contributors on the front page in the right hand column. If the list is too long, trim it and rotate the membership, adding a link to the full list.
* LibCon News still does not make much sense to me. Some of the posts there are as long as “full” posts. Is there sufficient political news to make it work?

The evidence of the last few years ..is that there is no difference between the 3 main parties … trying to constitute something meaningful out of what is really 30 years of defeat for the left is a thankless task …a bit like trying to shovel water uphill.The right won the battle of ideas years ago and the only “lefties” left are usually the more reactionary statists , or people who think facebook campaigns against unimportant no marks are a sign of a resurgent political left – as opposed to being merely a pathetic summation of one persons obsessions.

Alix,

Personally I support the idea of LC as a liberal left site, with equal emphasis on both, and it’s always been my understanding that this is what it is. So if anyone wants an approach which is purely liberal vs authoritarian or left vs right then I guess that might not be for them. But I would have thought that you would have plenty in common with many of us here and there would be a number of issues where we would be very much in agreement.

This blog post wasn’t even supposed to be about content and the name of the site and yet, two years later, people are still complaining about the name.

Alix, Andrew, Stuart – I’ll try and address the points about content soon. But my main point in this opening post specifically is to point out that I don’t see LC merely as a blog – it’s more a platform. There isn’t enough all kinds of content: I want more original news, more investigations, more political strategy, more philosophical debate, more activism related news etc etc. I’m trying to think a bit bigger than simply than where we fit on the political spectrum and what bases are covered.

In contrast to other blogs, I’d actually like to do more political strategy, activism and news on here. My experience has been that you can do all that sort of debate around where the left should go, what role the state should play and the tensions within the different constituencies.

I’d like to think that people are interested in deep, serious, nuanced political debate every day. In fact they’re mostly not. So I have to weigh up attention grabbing news with campaigns (Rod Liddle) some of us feel strongly about, to putting out bits of info on what protests are taking place where.

It’s a mish-mash, but it’s also grown our readership massively over the last year. What I wanted to say here was that I don’t want to get bogged down in discussions over what sort of content is needed because if people think they’re going to change the world by simply banging a few articles on a blog they’re mistaken. Liberal Conspiracy has to expand more to help build an infrastructure.

Mike Small – forgot to say earlier, thanks for the encouraging comment. It can be dispiriting sometimes. But, you know, we don’t do blogging to become popular 🙂

—–

pagar: Destroying the opposition with insults and vitriol is also impossible

I think you’re massively mis-characterising the content. Most of the attacks on the opposition are backed by data.. sometimes even pretty graphs courtesy of Unity.
You may say we’re doomed – but we also managed to stop Liddle becoming editor of the Indy. I’d say that’s a pretty nifty achievement.

——

Neil: But, y’know, I don’t get all irate about the fact that most branches of Pizza Hut don’t actually look like huts.
Amen, brotha.

—-

Alix: Andrew Adams is suggesting that liberals are also found on the right so you’ll need to make common cause with them on some issues.

Mmm… maybe. It depends on what is said and whether there is a case to be made.
Semantically, my diagram stretches from the hard-left to the liberal left. It is skewed more towards the centre left, and incorporates some people (Giles, Luis, Chris) that some would see on the economic right. I’m not closed to ideas and people sending me interesting ideas.

But this site is also about advocating for the centre-left. That’s the main concern. There is a circle around that which may include some people you see on the liberal-right. But I think my problem is that even their long-term aims may not be compatible with the most of the writers here.

—–

We should be trying to find policy progress and development on issues that unite leftists and liberals- localism, anti-corporatism, mutualism and civil liberties.

All worthwhile ideals. I’d sign up to that. But first I’m not sure all will. And secondly, that’s not all I want to host here. There WILL be content like pointing out what Rod Liddle has said or where the Tories go wrong. That is the cut and thrust of politics. This isn’t purely a policy orientated site and it never will be. It says that in the mission statement and on top.

Mike – I can agree with what you said in #66. Although I’ve explained myself a few times on identity politics – I think that was an evolutionary step we had to go through. No one escapes it.

Charlieman – that list you see on the right column IS of the regular contributors.

As for the site tweaks – there are more coming.

OK. To sum up the above.

1) The name of the site is misleading. Liberal Conspiracy is an inappropriate name for a site run by someone who is an avowed leftist. This tends to alienate those who consider themselves to be liberals.

2) Sunny sees the goal of the site to be polemical in a right/left context, an antidote to the aggressive right wing blogspots. And he craves their notoriety.

3) There is a tension between the contributors who want to debate in the sphere of political theory and those who just want to give the right some of their own medicine. Thus a thread where a poster takes the time to outline a carefully worked argument on a subject is often met with a response of “start your own blog you coward troll”.

4) It seems from this that the common ground between liberals and leftists may be less solid than might have been originally envisaged. It may, in fact be quicksand. This could be because socialism is congenitally authoritarian or because the logical conclusion of liberalism is market capitalism. Either way it’s a fundamental problem for the alleged goal of the site.

Having articulated the above issues, this site still represents, in my opinion, the most interesting UK discussion board on the net and I still believe it has the potential to fulfill its remit as originally proclaimed.

I am less convinced that is the agenda of the principal.

@76 Stuart White.

An aside really. I agree that Richard Seymour’s post is both pertinent and welcome. Richard Seymour considered that LC should have given the SWP space for rebuttal, and that’s fair enough.

I’ve enjoyed the posts by Dave Osler that illustrate that former far left followers are not entirely lost. Middle aged Dave Osler is not the Trot of his youth and is undogmatic and thoughtful. His attachment to the far left appears more romantic — a lost lover — than analytical.

His words are meaningful to those who have never indulged in the far left:
* People can recover from SWP membership. They can learn to think again.
* Group Think is a rework of Democratic Centralism. Again, some people recover.
* Ex-Trots have learned to understand liberal values by a circuitous route. Their experience is informative.

Stuart @76:
The resignation you talk about – that of Jennie Rigg – was more of a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ type thing.

pagar, I’d agree with pretty much all of that – with the caveat that there is plenty of common ground between liberals and ‘leftists’. I, for example, am definitely both liberal and left. If the blog was called ‘left-wing conspiracy’, there would probably be *more* Lib Dem contributors – because it would be presenting itself honestly as being about left-wing ideas, which often but not always overlap with liberal ideas. On the other hand calling the site ‘Liberal Conspiracy’ when the site as it exists now is not a liberal one (nor is it an especially liberal one, but it’s a site where liberalism is essentially irrelevant to its goals) appears at best to be an act of bad faith.

Were the site called ‘Green Conspiracy’ but published articles equally by environmentalists and climate sceptics, or ‘Socialist Conspiracy’ concentrating on civil liberties issues and posting articles by market capitalists as well as socialists, the same complaints would be made…

I hadn’t realised until Andrew Hickey’s comment that it was completely ethical & upstanding to copy and paste someone’s private correspondence onto a public blog. Remind me not to send him an email any time soon.

Anyway, before this thread dies, I think it’s worth noting that there aren’t many sites which encourage readers – even the devoutly, belligerently critical – to write comments about said site’s methods & future direction. It won’t win the site’s editor any liberal kudos, of course, because people who don’t seem to actually read LibCon have already branded it ghastly & irredeemably statist.

But from one accidental authoritarian to another: kudos Sunny, you done good.

I am less convinced that is the agenda of the principal.

Let me try and re-state the point of this post because I’m not articulating this properly.

I want to build Liberal Conspiracy into a platform. You’ll see what I mean in coming days when I build on this series… so not all the discussions need to happen today.

As an editor, my aim is to merely try and maintain some sort of coherence of narrative, give it a direction, promote other partners outside LC that will help build an infrastructure (think-tanks, advocacy organisations, activist groups) and jump on campaigns that I reckon are strategically useful.

That said – others who write for the site could do that too. We’ve given platform here to people to put out pieces of research, to expose what’s going on in certain areas (climate denialism) and promote their activities.

Ultimately I want to get to a state where there are enough sections for everyone. Although I’m sure some people will complain anyway.

Lastly – I’m sorry to disappoint some of you but the partisanship doesn’t go away. I’m passionate about the environment for example. Hell, I was an environmentalist way before I even got into university. And the criminal way our press reports on the environment and the bullshit the climate change deniers come out with pisses the hell out of me. I’m not backing away from that – that is full-on war. If that turns off some people, so be it. But I don’t back away from things I feel strongly about just to make some ppl happy otherwise there would be no point blogging.

Sunny, people are ‘complaining about the name’ because:
You claimed, incorrectly, *in the post*, that the site has Lib Dem contributors, when it currently appears not to have.
Mark said “You don’t get content from Lib Dems because those that did contribute were driven away, one by one.”
You said ” If you guys engaged with LC more you’d do a better chance of reaching out to a constituency that should be yours but isn’t convinced yet. ”

So James, Alix and myself – all people who *HAVE* ‘engaged with LC’, have been pointing out that actually Mark was right. You *have* driven those contributors away. The name is a small but telling *part* of that.

Neil: Sunny has, before now, posted private email correspondence as posts (e.g. Sam Tarry’s email to a private list being posted publicly without his permission). Personally I consider it perfectly ethical to reveal private correspondence if the author is making public claims that the email shows to be lies. If Sunny wants to go around publicly saying he’s been desperately trying to get more Lib Dems involved, then he really shouldn’t send emails saying that two is ‘over-represented’.

Alix – another point I wanted to make. A lot of the content doesn’t fit into the ‘what can we find common ground on intellectually and on policy’ areas.

A lot of it is cultural wars. In fact while Libdemvoice, LabourList and ConHome focus much more on what their parties are saying – I’m interested in talking about cultural issues.

And to that extent what happens is that people want to see the site on the political axis from a party political standpoint. I however see my politics primarily through a cultural standpoint.

I see myself on the left,. and most of my allies on the left, because their priorities and what they say chime with me much more than what many Libdems and Tories do. In fact a lot of Libdemvoice content is very party policy orientated whereas I’m much more a movement politics / cultural politics sort of person.

Things like nationalism, identity politics (including class), the environment, feminism, bigotry, the crap state of the media, foreign affairs – those things interest me. And the cleavage I see on those issues is primarily a left/right divide. I hope that’s a bit more clearer.

Anyway, as I said, this discussion wasn’t meant to be about content. I fully accept there isn’t all sorts of content on here. But I’m reliant on other people sending it in, then me quickly editing it to make sure its short-ish (always a problem), doesn’t repeat what has already been said, fits into an ongoing conversation… etc etc. It ain’t easy – especially not when the site doesn’t earn any money and costs me a hell of a lot in bandwidth.

Each to their own, Andrew. I personally wouldn’t do it, but if you’re fine with it and the people who read you are fine with it, then you’re obviously not going to suffer from too much opprobrium. In any case our paths aren’t likely to cross too often, particularly since as I write for something which is apparently – and unbeknownst to me – undeserving of the name ‘liberal’. To think that all those posts about legalising drugs were for nothing…

‘Things like nationalism, identity politics (including class), the environment, feminism, bigotry, the crap state of the media, foreign affairs – those things interest me. And the cleavage I see on those issues is primarily a left/right divide. I hope that’s a bit more clearer.’

I see the left/right divide as primarily economic. Which is odd, as my degree wasn’t in economics, yours was. Left-wing politics is about economic relationships. About ownership of the means of production. About redistribution. Those issues you list are largely cultural and sociological. Unless you are an unreconstructed Gramscian and regard the superstructure as determined (‘in the last instance’) by the economic base they are only tangential to the left/right divide. The fact that so many coincided with what Labour once stood for is largely a historical accident.

I think pagar has it partly right. There are some who see every issue as a left/right issue when they are better understood on the liberal/illiberal axis. Feminism, for instance, intersects with Left-wing politics in the area of equal pay and work conditions; but it intersects more with liberalism/illiberalism in areas such as abortion or pornography.

Sunny,

So, let me see if I understand this. The lack of LibDem writers for LC is our fault, because we are ‘unwilling to engage’. Comments like this were clearly intended to help encourage us…

“More Lib Dem sniping. Go You!

Y’know, having tried to get more and more Lib Dem writers on board, and getting them to actually engage at LC, it’s more a case of you guys not having the guts to elbow for room on a broad-spectrum blog (Jennie, not included).

Maybe if the Lib Dems were less insular, and a bit more combative, they’d have flooded into the space left by Labour in the voter’s minds (and perhaps, less importantly, at LC).

Man up. Stop bitching.”

And no, that isn’t from a private e-mail…

Subsequently, a whole bunch of senior Lib Dem bloggers wondered why we hadn’t been approached by LC, as you keep claiming you do. We presumed it was because we weren’t your kind of liberal. Should I take that as a compliment? Or should I assume that you didn’t actually approach anyone because, curiously, every time you are asked to indicate who you asked, it goes quiet. And if you do ask, why don’t any of them respond (I’m assuming that you would publish them if they did and you are sincere)?

Mark,

And no, that isn’t from a private e-mail…

No, it isn’t. It’s from a comment on another blog. Which Sunny didn’t write. And you don’t link to. Cunning.

Did it really require too much typing to disclose that the comment you quoted didn’t come from Sunny (who is taking 95% of the abuse on this thread), but from someone who is no longer a LibCon contributor? Would it have hurt to include a link to said quote? Are your standards that low?

FFS, whatever might be wrong about LC, we at least name our bloody sources.

“Things like nationalism, identity politics (including class), the environment, feminism, bigotry, the crap state of the media, foreign affairs – those things interest me. And the cleavage I see on those issues is primarily a left/right divide. I hope that’s a bit more clearer.”

Weird, because I can barely see any left/right divide in most of those things, but I can clearly see Liberal/Authoritarian divides. Shows how we all see the world I guess 😉

But it’s a reality that this site is a Leftist one, something I am sure you’re pretty much in agreement with. I also agree that if we want to have a liberal edge then liberal need to roll up their sleeves and get involved. However I am absolutely in agreement with Mark that various quite venomous sections of clearly Labour loving sections of this “coalition” have sabotaged that relationship, perhaps irreparably.

My thoughts? I have the same desire that I have had since I started blogging….make politics relevant to people, and facilitate making it accessible. I think this is the sort of place that can spread that further.

The problem with politics is many a thing, but it is not helped by the problem of the language and the culture of politics being a mystery or intelligible to the “common person”. I’m sure I’ve also said before that what we need to become is more than just a set of reporters. I have no inclination to be a two-bit journalist working in my free time, the fact that most of my news comes from real journalists doing the legwork means there is little point in merely reiterating that. I don’t think anyone here should wish for this either, yet only a few transcend the parroting and move in to analysis…and it’s the analysis that matters, breaking down the truth from the lies and the spin from the reality; turning the news in to something digestible by all.

Someone leaves a less-than-flattering comment about the Lib Dems, Mark Valladares, and that is your excuse to leave?

Come now. Hovering around 20% in the polls for over two years now. Is there any evidence the Lib Dems are even trying to use blogging for anything other than talking to each other about themselves, Doctor Who, and other niche subjects?

And if you will turn around and say that this is precisely the kind of comment that drives you from the site, then all I can say is: you’ve got to have a slighter thicker skin that that if you want to get anything more than 20% in the polls.

Neil,

Alright, here’s the link… http://millenniumelephant.blogspot.com/2009/06/day-3090-green-eyed-monster.html.

Oh yes, and if he isn’t a contributor, why’s he on the list still? For the same reason that LC retains one LibDem who hasn’t had anything posted since when?

But it clearly didn’t take you very long to find the link yourself. And you didn’t feel the need to post it either, or respond to it. And now that it’s abundantly clear that you don’t actually want us anyway, I’ll get back to the Art of Fugue. At least that doesn’t misrepresent itself…

Folks – I’m not interested in this fucking discussion about which Libdems feel aggrieved over who said what. Really, I’m not. OK so some people don’t want to engage. Fine. End of story. LC will go on, and it won’t fucking change its name either. Neither am I going to spend my Friday night patiently explaining who I sent an email to, what I said to them and justify every bit of correspondence. Really, as my last few posts have tried to indicate – I’m taking a wider look here.

Lee – I think it’s isn’t just the divides but actually who talks about them. What I mean is, the content I get on those issues is mostly from people who see themselves on the left than liberal etc. Anyway, that aside….

I have no inclination to be a two-bit journalist working in my free time, the fact that most of my news comes from real journalists doing the legwork means there is little point in merely reiterating that.

No, I think there is scope to do much more here. I don’t trust or rely on the national media for much these days and frankly we’ll see less of that in coming decades. Just look at ConservativeHome as a model for a start – it has news on what the think-tanks are doing, cultural debates, news from Parliament, Tory news and more.

In fact a better example is Talking Point Memo, which has always been my model. TPM has broken some big stories that were not pursued by the national media agenda. It forced them to take notice. HuffPo got people involved and got them to cover the national elections in a way that was never done.

People – citizen journalism isn’t just a pipe dream – it is an inevitability. I guarantee you that in ten years time local blogs will have more impact on local politics than national newspapers will do. I also guarantee that in specific areas (science research, academia etc) blogs will become the main resource for sharing info and communication. On a more national level – let’s stop bitching about the national media’s agenda and see if we can create our own dynamic. That is the model I want to explore. Have a look at TPM Muckracker – that blog is a fucking revelation.

What matters then is the model (how the hell to get people involved), the revenue (how to sustain the resources) and the editorial direction.

In fact if you follow the London blogs as closely as I do – you’ll know the impact that original journalism and a bit of digging can have (and a shout goes out to Dave Hill for taking Ian Clement’s scalp). Read Tory Troll, Dave Hill, Boris Watch, Political Animal – and you’ll get partisan but much more informed coverage of what’s going on at Boris’s offices.

That is the fucking model. For the entire country. For every city. For all issues.

Mark,

Thanks for doing that. It was easy for me to find because I happen to read Lib Dem blogs and had seen it before. I read Lib Dem blogs because I’d happily vote for people like David Howarth (who I cast my first & only GE ballot for) for the rest of my life.

And I DO want Lib Dems here. When a certain famous ex-LibCon LibDem left, I made a point of complaining about it (and you could probably get confirmation if you asked the person in question). I mentioned further up the thread that we really do need more Lib Dems here. I meant it.

However, I will not have this website slandered as illiberal by you or anyone else from your party or no party. If you have problems with it, then by all means go to town on those problems, but as someone who happens to read the postings on this site (something which I’m not sure all of its critics do), and recalls writing the odd liberally-minded post or two, I know that LibCon isn’t illiberal. That’s my only problem with you.

Mr Benn,

Thank you for highlighting the issue so clearly. The Lib Dems who inhabited this site tended to try and make a case without slagging off other political parties. Their reward was to have their party slagged off by others.

As James Graham pointed out earlier, the site used to state in the FAQ “The Labour party may represent the best vehicle for our political goals as they are in power, but our allegiance is towards liberal-left policies and ideas than specific parties.”. Despite that, we ‘engaged’.

It was this post http://liberalconspiracy.org/2009/04/20/statement-our-ethic-of-progressive-blogging/ that finally broke the camel’s back. The comments made it clear that we were being far too sensitive in our defence of pluralism within LC. Aaron’s error of judgement in publishing Rupert Read’s piece on ‘FibDems’ merely made it less likely that most of us would return.

Neil,

I haven’t suggested that LC is illiberal. No, I suggested that the claim of LibDem involvement was exaggerated, and nobody has provided any evidence to gainsay that statement. To proclaim the fact that content comes from LibDem members when there isn’t any is a deception, or at least an attempt to mislead. Some might want to go further than that.

You may want more LibDem involvement, but is this the best way to go about getting it? As a LibDem, I think not, and a member of the group you claim to want engagement with, if I think that, you are presented with a problem.

And now that Sunny has descended to the ‘fuck you all anyway’ level of debate, I think that the time has come to get that last beer in, write a blog entry saying why I’m so touchy about the use of the word liberal here and then get some sleep.

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2009/06/17/those-fibdems/#comment-50692

To me the greater shame is that Lib Dems would rather roll over and sulk about the content of Liberal Conspiracy, certain members such as Jen and Mat not included there, than actively try and engage in it.

I’m not exactly sure what you’re trying to achieve, Mark, if you are trying to achieve anything at all.

So you and other Lib Dems don’t like this blog. Boo hoo.

Its name doesn’t fit with what you deem ‘liberal.’ Crumbs!

So what?

Does that mean you’ve also ‘left’ LC and won’t come back?

Lib Dems should be as welcome as anyone here to comment, but I don’t see why they spend time commenting here if only to point out how uncomfortable it is to comment here.

Anyway.

Some thoughts on the actual topic:

Sunny, have you thought about what Daily Kos does for US progressive politics, and whether it provides another model alongside TPM to adopt?

Maybe we could do with a 538-style elections section?

LC did run a few campaigns back in the day, plus there was the recent (successful) one against Rod Liddle. I do think, however, that before you talk about what model the site should have and how we can engage people, that you need to perhaps flesh out more what its objectives should be beyond “building a movement of the left” and “stopping the right”:

– Does it mean we should try to put pressure on the parties of the left to adopt more progressive policies?
– Does it mean we try to get people involved in attending local campaign meetings and the like?
– I think you and the other regulars already do a very good job of deconstructing daft ideas/pronouncements from Tories and right-wing media.

I think you need to be very specific about what it is you want the site to achieve; the model will flow from that.

104. Shatterface

‘People – citizen journalism isn’t just a pipe dream – it is an inevitability’

Please don’t address us like that: it makes you sound like Colbert.

‘I guarantee you that in ten years time local blogs will have more impact on local politics than national newspapers will do. I also guarantee that in specific areas (science research, academia etc) blogs will become the main resource for sharing info and communication.’

Only if academia decides to ditch inconveniences like peer review. I post on a number of science blogs and I don’t see anyone wanting to supplant academic journals – just people sharing their wonder at the universe. It’s just quacks, troofers and AGW skeptics who see the ‘net as a primary outlet for their guff.

‘On a more national level – let’s stop bitching about the national media’s agenda and see if we can create our own dynamic.’

That’s rich – you never stop bitching about the media. In fact you do so in the OP. You’ve attacked the BBC as consistantly as Mary Whitehouse.

Sunny, um, your memory is faulty. When you said at 61

MatGB for a start was part of the original team.

No, I wasn’t. I came on board at the same time as Alix, whihc I think was 6 months after you set up and launched.

IIRC, you did have Duncan/Doctorvee, who is now a Lib Dem, but was avowedly non partisan at the time (as I was when I started blogging).

Thanks for those that have mentioned they’d like to see more from me (and from Lib Dems/Liberals in general), now that I’m working properly again (admittedly only part time) there’s a chance I might manage some more motivation, I’ve barely written anything for a year (and honestly Sunny, repeating that I’ve got posting access as a proof there’re Lib Dems involved when I’m not actually posting and have as much as told you I’m having problems that way is a bit unhelpful).

I’m, like JS Mill and Richard Reeves, a Liberal first, a Democrat second and a socialist third. I tend to define the word ‘liberal’ as meaning someone who broadlu speaking agrees with the broad thrust of the great liberal philosophers, especially the greatest British philosophers.

That means Mill, Locke, Keynes and Rawls, for the most part. All opposed to the authoritarian streak some on “The Left” seem to exhibit. I don’t care what party label there is attached to someone (I’ve voted Labour while being a Lib Dem member in the past, although I can’t see that happening again anytime soon), but it does bother me that many of those that write for the site are distincly not in any way that I’d recognise Liberal.

If Sunny had been a little clearer about what he wanted a lot earlier.

I do want to write more, generally, and start blogging properly again. I hope to contribute stuff here occasionally. But I make no promises.

Sunny, if you’re serious about building a proper broad church that engages with all streams of the mainstream left, you need more Liberals. I don’t care whether they’re carrying a party card, but they do need to know what the british Liberal tradition means.

Mat – I didn’t take you off the contributors list because I thought it to be rude to chuck you off when you did say a few times that you wanted to write (and even asked me to push you on it!).

You know, I’ve just gone through the initial posts in response to what you said Mat (you’re right, my mistake, it wasn’t at launch) I turned up a discussion on the second day on the same subject. In fact I made a few points then that I’m repeating now. Ahhh, the joys of blogging.
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2007/11/06/labour-v-libdem-writers/

PS, the original list of writers actually did have lots of people who see themselves more liberal than left (but not aligned along party lines):
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2007/11/05/we-want-to-spread-the-conspiracy/

Anyway – we’re back where we started. I hope the next in the series of these posts don’t carry on in the same vein.

107. Rabid Raccoon

“The think-tanks, the climate denmialism, their attempts to restrict abortion rights, their fatuous moralising, their approach towards poverty, their approach towards a marriage tax, their approach towards the City… anything else? I can give you a long laundry list if you like.”

ok, fair points. I agree with some of them and I think people from across the political spectrum would. Though just cos nadine dorries or the daily mail says something doesnt make it a confirmed policy of the right… there is always going to be a fringe of lunatic hard right wingnuts who spew out press releases which are ignored by the majority of thinking people

RR

108. Golden Gordon

Sunny
If your looking for a movement of left centred around LC, then it ain’t go to happen.
Also do want that ?
Surely a site which allows debate on a wide range of topics and opinions is worth a thousand political movements.
I for one enjoy the site because it is not a movement, because all movement sites eventually has its agenda taking over the content.
Hence the state of Harry’s Place.
I would like to see the site opened up even further, maybe threads by conservatives such as Tim W
.

Sunny,

Just a few points if I may.

Firstly on the content. I seem to recall Kate Belgrave doing ‘journalism’ on here, although not so much recently? If the site is to become more ‘news’ orientated then you need to recruit more people willing to do that sort of thing.

I had a look at Talking Point Memo which appears to be a news dominated site, however I am not completely sure what it’s usp is supposed to be.

Are you aware of this ‘new start’?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/caledonian-mercury-scottish-press

The site is at:

http://caledonianmercury.com/

It might be worth approaching them to see if they would be willing to discuss their business model with you.

One of the things I like most about this site is the ‘in depth’ analysis that is undertaken. I know I’ve banged on about this before, but I really do think some of the content here ought to be sent out as press releases at the very least. If you want to start to change people’s perceptions….

Just out of curiosity, am I the only SNP member that comments on here regularly?

This might sound a bit flippant, but I don’t mean to be – but could this New Left Movement ever have any point of contact with this part of the working class?

The first link is to that Millwall site, but it’s about an advert for Puma that was done by Tottenhan supporters in a north London pub.
(See the youtube link in the first post).
Ohhh, scary blokes.
http://www.millwall.vitalfootball.co.uk/forum/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=42753&posts=17

I commented on this thread to make a point about a website calling itself liberal dedicating so much space to attacking and allying against liberals and find myself coopted into the narrower and duller argument about whether Sunny pays enough due deference to Liberal Democrats. Different argument, I’m afraid and not one I’m as convinced as some LD commenters here is as one-sided as they like to think.

Sunny has never rejected any article I’ve asked to have published here; possibly because they tend to be campaign pieces rather than think pieces. I will continue to USE this website as long as I think it is useful; I just think that until it resolves its own internal contradiction it can never be the centre of a movement in the way the article above sets out it would like to be.

“Only if academia decides to ditch inconveniences like peer review. I post on a number of science blogs and I don’t see anyone wanting to supplant academic journals – just people sharing their wonder at the universe. It’s just quacks, troofers and AGW skeptics who see the ‘net as a primary outlet for their guff.”

I don’t think he was saying this, but there is a clear defecit in how scientific information (already peer reviewed) is disseminated. Currently the only path of political discourse about science is through parties that have their own agenda. Science is currently being belittled by the thought in the common person’s mind that there is a hidden agenda. Green taxes on individuals are a terrible way to achieve a noble end because it allows people to believe that a scientific message has been made to achieve greater state interference in an area that is not yet accepted by all (or even the many) as an area of fair interference.

There does need to be another way to get the message out there on scientific progress, one that doesn’t shy away from explaining the evidence properly.

“No, I think there is scope to do much more here. I don’t trust or rely on the national media for much these days and frankly we’ll see less of that in coming decades. Just look at ConservativeHome as a model for a start – it has news on what the think-tanks are doing, cultural debates, news from Parliament, Tory news and more.”

I don’t disagree that we can do more with the information that is already out there and pushing it in to the limelight. Maybe I’m just deluding myself that reporting on these sort of things isn’t the same as acting like a mainstream journalist.

“People – citizen journalism isn’t just a pipe dream – it is an inevitability. I guarantee you that in ten years time local blogs will have more impact on local politics than national newspapers will do. I also guarantee that in specific areas (science research, academia etc) blogs will become the main resource for sharing info and communication. On a more national level – let’s stop bitching about the national media’s agenda and see if we can create our own dynamic. That is the model I want to explore. Have a look at TPM Muckracker – that blog is a fucking revelation.”

I’m not saying that citizen journalism doesn’t have it’s place, but only the committed few have the resources to carry it out. How many of us have the time to develop the links necessary to get the information that is needed to be insightful enough?

But I agree, let’s stop bitching about the national media’s agenda…just let’s not stop correcting them when they (consistently) misreport what’s going on!

“What matters then is the model (how the hell to get people involved), the revenue (how to sustain the resources) and the editorial direction.”

Of course.

I know, I know, I’m about to do rehashing, and I honestly have been trying to resist that. But this thread has panned out such as to include me in a category I don’t really belong in. FWIW I wouldn’t, in retrospect, describe myself as having been “driven away” or any such emotive term. A cost-benefit analysis suggested it just wasn’t worth my time posting here, because the audience was (at that time) unreasonably unwilling to take on ideas that came from parties other than Labour. I know other LDs had problems with being edited or rearranged in some way, and as far as I can see they had some fair complaints, but I did not experience this problem. Sure, Sunny wound me up like hell sometimes, especially when he denied that the commenters were pro-Labour (which at first they undoubtedly were) but my immediate calculation was based on them and not him.

I suspect that if I posted now, I’d find the commenters more open-minded (partly because a lot of the original commenters have retreated into the bunker). But the proximate cause of asking to be taken off the contributors list (as distinct from simply not contributing) was the fact that a series of posts over a long period of time suggested to me that the site was highly tolerant of cockwaffle, and I didn’t particularly need to be associated with cockwaffle, particularly with an often anti-liberal slant. (And yes, Neil, your jumping up and down is noted, but there being a minority of liberal contributors is not really sufficient when one’s main axis is liberal-authoritarian rather than left-right. I think we’ve just got an insoluble viewpoint problem there.) In fact, if you’re collecting blog gossip, I found LDV’s tolerance of cockwaffle rather trying and, though it wasn’t the reason I left, I’m much happier not being associated with it.

Retrospectively, I think this particular cockwaffle problem really comes down to the left-right, authoritarian-liberal thing. If I think content that other people find reasonable is total cockwaffle in terms of values, perspective, everything, then I probably shouldn’t be in a movement with those people.

So I think, in Exit Voice Loyalty terms, I’ve chosen Exit. For perfectly good and sound reasons mind, but I did choose it and wasn’t driven anywhere. And both I and your leftish coalition movement are surely the better for it.

115. the a&e charge nurse

Blimey – if these kinds of machinations (see MattGB, Alix, Mark V, et al) occur amongst blog contributors imagine how it would pan out once we factor real, and by that I mean executive, political power into the equation?

This thread puts me in mind of ‘group dynamic’ sessions that occured when I was training to be a psychiatric nurse – students arranged themselves in a circle and talked about what they were feeling about each other or the workplace.
Needless to say sessions sometimes became rather heated, and even personal as a variety of factions and coalitions formed.

Anybody with editing skills care to summarise what has been agreed so far, or like our group dynamic sessions are we going round in circles?

116. Just Visiting

Sunny

I’m only a low-energy, occassionally active participant here – but maybe feedback from one of those is useful.

Let me say that some of the debate that I’ve seen here has been excellent; informed and rational and exploring tricky issues without partisan sloganning.

However, it doesn’t hit those highs as much as it could.

Two areas in particular strike me:

i) I agree with Stuart White (76):

> One gripe I have about LC recently is that the coverage of state and religion issues is a bit one-dimensionally left

Your yourself have stifled rational debate in this area – several times you have said that all organised religions are equally bad, and several times I’ve called you on that to ask if you can _really_ support that…. and each time you’ve gone silent..

The list of things that interest you (“Things like nationalism, identity politics including class, the environment, feminism, bigotry, the crap state of the media, foreign affairs”), is indeed a cultural list as others point out.
So you need to allow the ‘compare and contrast’ of religions to be explored in so far as it has a cultural impact on each of the areas that interest you.
It is simply not honest to suggest all religions have the same impact on say feminism.

ii) “Our aim is to figure out the best way to counter and destroy the Right.”

I’d agree with others on this.
You’d be better of dropping that, and instead just aim to counter the ISSUES you dont like that come from the right.

And LC would sound ike a more reasoned and rational debating house if you could moderate some of the more repetitive right bashers (did someone say Sally).

Actually, I guess my two comments are linked: to religions, to and the right: you have tended to take a simplistic, “let’s lump loads of diverse groups and views into one basket and discount them en masse” approach.

James and Alix – I think the contradictions and ‘cockwaffle’ come with the territory I think.

Take for example ppl like Damon – sees himself as a leftie but mostly I’d say economically. On social issues he is closer to the Tories than LDs or Labour. Others are much more socially a d economically liberal. In other words, this site will always have content that annoys you because it has to be a broad church. It will have to includ the moralising left and the liberal voice that think that’s crap. ConservativeHome does that too – it sometimes ha pieces I agree with and some I rage against. Comes with the territory I’d say. Or perhaps that’s not what you mean. Anyway – either of you are welcome to send pieces to me anytime you like 🙂

Lee – you’re right, I didn’t mean let’s stop pointing out where the media is at fault. I meant let’s do that and also do something about it in terms of filling the gap (sorry shatterface)

I think time and resources is an issue and frankly the one I’m grappling with most. Which is why I think a distributed journalism model works better where several ppl contribute to a project or a piece. I’m thinking about it hard, trust me. It needs to be cracked.

118. Shatterface

‘There does need to be another way to get the message out there on scientific progress, one that doesn’t shy away from explaining the evidence properly.’

I think Unity has done a good job explaining the ‘science’ of the DWP’s ‘lie detectors’ and the magic bomb detectors. There’s a difference between using blogs to discuss scientific issues and claiming that blogs will play a decisive role in science itself.

I agree that there’s a common misconception about science but it seems science itself is being attacked from all sides. We have creationism, ID and climate skepticism from the religious right, automatic suspicion of big pharma from the left and magic crystals and homeopathy from the green ‘counterculture’.

Scientific matters aren’t going to be settled by debating politics. Just as you can’t comprehend liberal issues from a Left/Right perspective, you can’t distinguish good science from bad science by it’s political implications.

By all means discuss *funding* of science, but that’s a seperate matter.

“how about featuring Eaves’ Poppy Project”

I’ve a feeling that Antonia doesn’t read all that much here. Poppy has indeed been featured a couple of times in posts and the comments sections tore it apart. Not just me I hasn’t to add: all of those looking for logic and facts rather than assertion and prejudice seemed to pile in.

“maybe threads by conservatives such as Tim W”

Who are you calling conservative? I may be many things but that ain’t one of them.

Anyway, never happen. Sunny just ain’t gonna allow it.

Sunny, just wanting to lend a voice of support here. I’m a big fan of LC, despite being what I guess people would call far-left rather than centre-left. I think if you want to use LC in the way you want, it might be worthwhile having a wider selection of contributions. This could include both more from the radical left and anarchists, as well as stuff from the liberal end of the right wing (ID cards an obvious point of convergence here). For me, as for others by the sound of things, LC is at its best when it’s thought provoking – having more contributors from outside the centre helps with that. And organisationally, having contributors who you don’t strongly agree with shows others that you’re serious about dealing with the fragmentation of the left. You don’t need to worry too much about scaring people off if you’re targeting an audience of people who are already politically interested and aware, as you say.

121. Shatterface

‘ii) “Our aim is to figure out the best way to counter and destroy the Right.”

I’d agree with others on this.
You’d be better of dropping that, and instead just aim to counter the ISSUES you dont like that come from the right.’

Agreed – because if the Right succeeds in identifying itself with civil liberties and the Liberal Left define themselves merely as the ‘anti-Right’ then we’re fucked.

‘Liberal Left’ has to be a positive term not something defined simply by difference.

Anyway, the most interesting thread in ages.

Sunny @117. Closer to the Tories on social issues?
Not really. Probably somewhere between yourself and arguments like this.
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/5378/

That’s after reading that again, and then looking up on google if you said anything about it, and saw you had in comment is free.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/24/boris.race#start-of-comments

That’s a good opinion piece by yourself – and the link about Ken Livingstone from it. I know you don’t like those people at Spiked – but I really just dip in and out and look for any good stuff, and I think what that article says there is pretty good.

Yes, it was a clumsy response. Instead of being so defensive, McGrath might have reminded Wadsworth that there has not been a mass black exodus since Boris was elected mayor last month. And in fact, it was Darcus Howe himself, in suggesting that Caribbean people who have been living in the UK for years might choose to ‘go back’ to their ‘homelands’, who implied that Britain is not their real home.

I like comments like that, and no way in my mind is that right wing or Tory like.

And Sunny, this following paragraph does seem to chime with what you said in your article about there being ”different sacred cows” in London.

Both Johnson’s call for ‘crystal clarity’ and Marc Wadsworth’s assertion that McGrath should have responded to his question with some trite cliché show that, for both sides, what matters is not intelligent, honest political discussion, but offence-avoidance. For Johnson, as for his leftist critics, what matters most is presenting a spotless image of oneself to the media; saying The Right Thing rather than nurturing grown-up discussion.

And if Sally wants to call it trollish of me for writing that, then fair enough.

123. the a&e charge nurse

[121] “Anyway, the most interesting thread in ages” – absolutely, well done Sunny.

I’d like to hear more about Pagar’s left/right vs liberal/authoritarian axis [65]
I think this is a very good starting point for the debate, especially since so many assumptions are usually associated with each of these (broad) labels.

Sorry to bore on about my days as a psych nurse but I’ve been having flashing backs after the ‘group dynamics’ sessions sprang to mind [115].

Anyone remember Johari’s window?
Perhaps some of the LC bloggers could plot their own political affiliations by substituting the left/right, liberal/authoritarian axis for those contained in the window?
http://www.businessballs.com/johariwindowmodeldiagram.pdf

All I ask is that we avoid sitting in an all encompassing circle while commentators try to figure out, what’s what.

Tim W @ 119

Anyway, never happen. Sunny just ain’t gonna allow it.

But why not?

I think, whether or not they agree with your politics, most would agree that you are one of the more reasoned and interesting voices around here. So why would Sunny not allow you to post an article? Even I’ve managed to sneak a few under the radar.

But does this not echo one of the problems with the current structure?

Surely articles should be posted according to the strength of their ideas, the information they contain or the quality of the writing and not on the basis of how well the argument happens to chime with the editor’s political view.

In fairness to Sunny, he has not generally adopted such a prescriptive policy- if he had this blog would be as dull and anodyne as Labourlist and no one, other than brain dead party drones, would come near it.

So come on, Tim. Two hundred words on the role of carbon taxation in fighting climate change.

I’ll bet you £20 it doesn’t get spiked.

125. Golden Gordon

Who are you calling conservative? I may be many things but that ain’t one of them.

Sorry Tim , I thought yoiur slavish support for the conservatives on any issue, I assumed.
What are you then ?.
Let me guess.
Non aligned economic libertarian. That seems to the be the flavour of the month.
Also if you ask Sunny nicely, he might.

I thought yoiur slavish support for the conservatives on any issue

Tim Worstall and “slavish support for the Conservatives” are not phrases I ever thought I’d see together.

For a start, he was a UKIP candidate last June.

Tim’s a small-state or “classical” liberal, specifically not a libertarian as he tends to reject that sort of dogmatic ideological proscription. He’s a bit too right wing for my personal taste, but he’s definitely a Liberal, and has self described as left-wing fairly regularly, which given the definitions he uses isn’t innaccurate. I’m just a lot more left wing than him.

It’d take, oh, ten seconds to click on the link with his name and go find this stuff out, but, y’know, I’m feeling generous.

UKIP are more nuttier than the Tories. Of course they aren’t conservative, but in many ways they’re in fact worse. Tim W may not be a conservative himself but he works for and cheers for a party that’s filled with wingnut Tories who were pissed off with the main right-wing offering.

shatterface – thanks but the day I start taking advice from you on anything I’ll have to stop blogging. In fact – please don’t offer me any advice at all, ever, I’m not really paying attention.

damon – that spiked editorial doesn’t cover the full totality of social issues though does it? Spiked are your typical contrarians and that appeals to people. They publish link-bait. Scratch the surface however their opinions don’t stand up. They were also the biggest purveyors of crap climate denialism a few years ago – and yet they claim to be science and evidence driven. What a crock.

Dan – thanks, I’ll mull over that.

“Tim W may not be a conservative himself but he works for and cheers for a party”

Slight correction. Used to work for. I agreed to work for the year or so leading up to the euro elections. Wasn’t prepared to live in London&away from here or any longer than that.

As for “wingnut Tories” you’d be surprised. Gerard Batten, the UKIP MEP for London, is very much a staunch Old Labour trades unionist. He absolutely {hates{ Tories with a passion.

that spiked editorial doesn’t cover the full totality of social issues though does it?

I’m not sure what you mean. It’s about Boris Johnson, James McGrath, Mark Wadsworth and Darcus Howe mostly – and why McGrath had to resign.

And it reckons that there is an unhealthy climate at large where there are people (like Wadsworth and Howe – and The Voice newspaper), using this kind of thing in the ideological battle agaist their opponents. Even if it was crass and unfair. (Perhaps it’s not possible to be ‘unfair’ to a tory – by any means necessary etc).

I remember shaking my head in dismay one night listening to London radio when a woman with an African accent was talking about Boris and sounded somewhat distressed at the fact that he had become Mayor.
”He calls us pekingese” she said. ”Like the dog. He calls black people dogs”

That was the kind of mood that the likes of Howe, Wadsworth and The Voice helped create during the run up to the election, and I think spiked were one of the few groups who countered this regrettable trend in a clear and calm way.

Just the other day on this site, someone casually said that Boris’s aid ”said that black people should go home”.
I think if there is to be a new Left Movement, it has to stop this kind of thing.

And generally I think spiked have been pretty good like that.

”OMG OMG” go some predictable people on the left, ”Prince Charles has an Asian polo playing friend who goes by the name Sooty”

”So flipping what” is my response. Does anyone know how this name came about and what people who use it mean by it?

That’s why I have some sympathy with the more working class non racist way of being easy going about these things, like is sometimes (but not always) shown on that Millwall site.

Just have a quick look at this picture. One of the main people on there is a muslim of South Asian origin called Tiger_Lion, and when asked who was going to the game on saturday, he replied he wasn’t as he would be fixing his car.
Yesterday, someone posted this:
http://www.millwall.vitalfootball.co.uk/forum/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=42833&posts=7

See it’s funny. He thinks it’s funny, I think it’s funny. That some people would say its racist or whatever, I think is a problem with the left.

And Sunny, I have no clue about climate change – and I agree, Spiked can be very contrarian in many areas. But sometimes they are spot on. Like here about UAF:
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/7604/


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    LC Mission Series: part 1 – Building a new Left Movement http://bit.ly/bt8Fli

  2. Hannah Mudge

    ooh exciting 😀 RT @libcon: LC Mission Series: part 1 – Building a new Left Movement http://bit.ly/bsw7du

  3. Rob Waller

    @libcon "Liberal Conspiracy is not for your average punter on the street." is that a statement on socialism generally? http://bit.ly/bt8Fli

  4. Andrew G

    RT @CharlotteGore: Sunny H wanting to be the leader of the New Militant, it seems. http://bit.ly/ac2K1f. Everyone willing to follow Sunny welcome!

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    Just commented on Sunny's new strategy http://bit.ly/aMqVFx and posted on OK http://bit.ly/cFIbBx

  6. Roger Thornhill

    The Left cannot distinguish between "news" and "opinion", for it's opinion is The Truth, Comrades http://bit.ly/ac2K1f #sundial #leftout

  7. earwicga

    RT @libcon LC Mission Series: part 1 – Building a new Left Movement http://bit.ly/agH9jW

  8. Andrew Hickey

    @millenniumdome http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/02/19/lc-mission-series-part-1-building-a-new-left-movement/

  9. Charlotte Gore

    Sunny H wanting to be the leader of the New Militant, it seems. http://bit.ly/ac2K1f. Everyone willing to follow Sunny welcome!

  10. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  11. Thomas Ash

    Sunny Hundal starts a new 'mission statement' for @libcon & invites suggestions http://bit.ly/ac4CIc

  12. George Allwell

    RT @libcon: LC Mission Series: part 1 – Building a new Left Movement http://bit.ly/bsw7du

  13. James Graham

    I'm being told off by @pickledpolitics again for defending the rights of communists not to be labled "liberals": http://bit.ly/93hS34

  14. SocialMediaSentiment

    "Liberal Conspiracy » LC Mission Series: part 1 Building a new …" http://tinyurl.com/ydwoq2j

  15. csstone

    Liberal Conspiracy » LC Mission Series: part 1 – Building a new … http://bit.ly/9dw890

  16. Best of the web 07/02/10 – 21/02/10 | www.the-vibe.co.uk

    […] LC Mission Series: part 1 – Building a new Left Movement […]

  17. Liberal Conspiracy » LC Mission Series: part 3 – Creating a platform

    […] the first part I talked about the need for infrastructure. In the second, a need for taking a different approach […]

  18. Contradictions of the rightwing blogosphere « Left Outside

    […] Sunny Hundal has been running a series of posts on where he wants to take Liberal Conspiracy. Part one was about LibCon becoming part of a left wing infrastructure, not for the next election but […]

  19. Liberal Conspiracy » The contradiction inherent to right-wing blogs

    […] at 2:00 pm Sunny has been running a series of posts on where he wants to take Liberal Conspiracy [part 1, part 2 and part 3]. What has piqued my interest is the response this sort of action draws from the […]

  20. Political division and the future of the British Left | www.the-vibe.co.uk

    […] Sunny Hundal makes much of how the public is actually left-liberal. While valid, this is insufficient. The strength of the Left lies not in comporting with current majority preferences, but the fact that Leftism supports the interests of the majority. […]





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