[personal profile] matgb
Can't sleep, at all, so instead you get an insomnia fueled ramble. Not sure if the PC now being at the end of the bed in the new place is a good thing or not, I liked having a desk in a separate room, ah well...

Anyway, there was a really crappy post on [livejournal.com profile] metaquotes today, but it was vaguely political, so I thought I'd have a read. Got into a fairly interesting discussion, and made another new LJ friend via that comm (waves at [livejournal.com profile] baseballchica03). During the conversation, I had cause to go look at some stuff I'd put on [livejournal.com profile] voting_taktix on similar subjects, and it struck me. While a lot of it was chaff or link/discuss filler, I wrote some damn fine articles on there when the mood struck me.

But the site was always at its best when it was me and [livejournal.com profile] paulatpingu, and since he moved house, got promoted and acquired the Guild Wars addiction he's not had time. [livejournal.com profile] draxar has written a good peice, but even I've barely done anything on it for the last month. I've proved to myself that I work best as part of a team, even if it's just a virtual one. More on that later.

Y'see, something worries me. It's a bit of a rambling worry, but, well, bear with me.

Remember Mr Blair's Big Tent?

Y'know, he was going to build a new progressive century, heal the rift on the British Left, bring forward a radical series of constitutional reforms, give us a referendum on electoral reform and probably put Paddy into the Cabinet? Yeah.

Y'see, I'm in my fourth year of Lib Dem membership. Except it was spread over 15 years, and each has been several years apart. When I first joined them, it was 1992, I was 17. I wanted to do my bit to get that bastard Major out. I was young, a bit naive, and probably a little over-keen. In Torbay, you had a simple, tactical choice. Vote Lib Dem, or get a Tory MP. Labour were frequently lucky to keep their deposit, and the idea they could actually win in an area with almost no industrial or union presence was laughable. The anti-Tory vote went for [livejournal.com profile] a_sanders_myspc or else you got another term of Rupert "spywriter Nigel West" Allason, whose only redeeming feature, ever, was succesfully suing Alastair Campbell. I echo Have I Got News for You though:
...given Mr Allason's fondness for pursuing libel actions, there are also excellent legal reasons for not referring to him as a conniving little shit
What a nice MP. You can see why we wanted rid of him, right?

Second time, I was living in Exeter. There was a debate, held by the Law Society and a few others, about EU enlargement. I went because a) in favour, b) I fancied the organiser, c) it looked like it might make a good bun fight, and d) Graham Booth was the one opposed. As that git new my father, and is a notoriously ill-informed debater of dubious intellect. While there, a lady I later found to be Cllr Cherry Luxton (and not many get an RIP from me, a great loss, decent socialist as well) got up to make the old "if it's such a bureacracy, how come it employs less people than Bristol City Council" crack. Always good to deflate the 'phobics. We got chatting, she talked me into doing some leafletting for her, I enjoyed it, I ended up on the local executive. Oh dear, never again. So that was two years of membership.

This time, the most recent time, I rejoined after the leadership battle, out of conviction that the British body politic is rotten; time to stand up and be counted. The first time I joined in order to get rid of the Tories. This time I've joined to get rid of New Labour. Plus ca change?

So, what am I worried about?

Well, y'see, in '92, Major did bloody good. Most successful ever candidate for Prime Minister in terms of votes cast, and better than Blair or Thatcher ever got in terms of %age share. Fancy a giggle? Try explaining to a Tory why and how Thatcher was always a massive electoral liability for them. They won't get it. The Stupid Party. Major won, but mostly because the opposition was still split. So we had The Project. Use Duverger, apply it to UK politics, crystalise the opposition, unite it, get the bastards out. So we did. The problem? We did it too good.

I was there. I was up for Portillo, I was cheering as the results came in, I was absolutely ecstatic we'd got them out and the promised new dawn was coming. It took us a few years to realise the mistake. It's taken more than a few more to realise how big a mistake it was.

Too big a landslide caused Labour's problems

Seriously. Blair was going to change things, unite the left, sort things out. But the massive majority meant he couldn't do it. Why bring Lib Dems into Govt when you've got more than enough votes? Why give up a massive majority in the House when you don't need to? The point that reformers have made, time and time again, that the institutionalised outdated system of governance in this country is the cause of the corruption, cynicism and failure got completely drowned out. And in order to maintain momentum, rather than uniting the left, Blair's split it, and probably irrevocably, for some time. He's played to the tabloid pleasing gallery, concentrated ont eh 'bread and butter' issues, taken the authoritarian route, and forgotten all his promises. The Big Tent died in May '97. That's what I'm worried about

What if the Tories get a landslide?

Iain Weaver has run the last few months bye-elections in council seats through his normally-reliable swingometer, which doesn't follow the bloody stupidly outdated uniform swing model, and shows that Cameron would get an overall majority, albeit a small one. I see no reason to doubt his numbers nor his analysis. And therein lies the problem. While I want New Labour out, I sure as hell don't want Dave's bloody Tories in to govern with a majority. It's at this point we have to mention Clare Short. She wants a Hung Parliament after the next election, for reasons very similar to mine. She was slated by a number of Labour voices when she started calling for one, and, while I understand still a party member, she no longer takes the Labour whip in the Commons (ask if you want to know what that means). But the Labour people had their partizan blinkers on. They missed something. She wasn't, really, calling on people to vote against Labour. In many cases, to get a hung Parliament, any tactical campaign in its favour will have to actively support Labour in a number of seats.

My ideal result? Lib Dems on more than 80, and ideally more than 100 seats. Give them the pivot. Hopefully, with Brown's Labour with just short of a majority. Do we really think that El Gordo would lock out his long term friend and travelling companion Ming, given that he was expecting to share a Cabinet table with him in '97? I think not. The other options, Tory win, Labour win, Tory minority, Tory/LibDem coalition or even, help, the German option, a Grand Coalition, just, well, they scare me. Doesn't matter how many times David Davis makes the right noises about ID cards. Doesn't matter how Green or Liberal Dave wants to pretend to be (he's followed a classic Downsian strategy, reposition centre/centre on both the important axis, gotta hand it to him - just please don't give him the country).

Actually, a Brown/Campbell cabinet isn't my ideal result. My ideal result is Campbell leading a Ministry of All Talents while we have a proper Convention like in 1689, only this one can be legit. But we all have dreams, that ain't going to happen.

Anyway, back to [livejournal.com profile] voting_taktix, and me being part of a team. I need one. I need good, solid writers that broadly share my centre left/anti-state liberal position. You know what? The best people for that are on my friends list. I'll, if I can get some sleep, start setting it up tomorrow, I've been putting it off for too long.

Y'see, Nick Cohen asked:

What's Left?

I agree with [livejournal.com profile] chris_dillow_fd. Plenty.

But before we can build our nice new Jerusalem, we need to sort the system of government out. Which'll need a lot of work. It's partially why I wanted to move to London (no where close to the main reason), but it's definately why I want to start blogging properly again.

I'm under no illusions that blogging, on its own, can change the world. But I am sure that the internet can help rebuild democracy. It's certainly helped me clarify my views. I used to think I was a social democrat, a liberal leftist, with a few anarchist tendencies. I'm not. I'm most certainly not a social democrat. I'm a Market Socialist, a Left Libertarian, a Millite Liberal, and I'm going to be heard, damnit!

Anyone want to help?  No commitments required.  Honest.

Date: 2007-02-15 08:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baseballchica03.livejournal.com
But I am sure that the internet can help rebuild democracy.

Look at what it did for Howard Dean over here. (Did I read something a while back about Tony Blair calling him up to ask for help after the Dems took back Congress. I can just imagine that conversation. "You see, all you have to do is blame the folks in power who got things all mucked up in Iraq. Oh... That was you guys? Heh, sorry, buddy.")

I think the internet is a very useful tool. At the very least, it's getting people to talk about politics more openly and in a different way. On the other hand, the people who seek out political blogs are more likely to be interested in politics in the first place. They also tend to be more leftist, upper-middle class, and educated. In short, the bloggers are the people who would be voting or otherwise the most politically active anyway. Or else it's replacing television and radio news sources with electronic ones. The internet has gotten more youth engaged than before, but the results are not exactly stunning. People are talking, but they're not actually doing anything. Turnout for the primaries in the States last time around was abysmally low despite increased political discussion (although there are admittedly other things that contributed to that, like the nomination being all but decided before Super Tuesday rolled around).

There's a really interesting panel study of Meetup participants (http://www.meetupsurvey.com/Study/) from the last US Presidential election that was conducted by a handful of people at Bentley College. (I used it for a paper I wrote last semester.) And the Pew Internet and American Life Project (http://www.pewinternet.org/) has put out a bunch of studies on the subject as well.

Date: 2007-02-15 12:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malkavelli.livejournal.com
"They also tend to be more leftist, upper-middle class, and educated."

This caught me, why do you say this?

Date: 2007-02-15 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malkavelli.livejournal.com
"there are some real loons out there blogging. I've had a number of them comment on mine..."

Oi!

Date: 2007-02-15 06:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baseballchica03.livejournal.com
The data I've seen so far indicates that that is the case, although [livejournal.com profile] matgb makes a good point about it probably being more about the opposition than anything inherent in the left. I mean, obviously not all bloggers are leftist, which is why I said "tend" rather than "are." I'm sure I'd only have to Google for a couple of minutes to find conservative (American or actual) writers or a nationalist or xenophobic blog.

And there is an inherent social bias in internet use, even today. You need to have a computer, access to the internet, and the skillset to be able to blog, not to mention needing the leisure time to participate in the dialogue.

Date: 2007-02-15 11:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malkavelli.livejournal.com
Okiday, so is it an extention of people read what they want to rather than seek out alternatives?

Date: 2007-02-16 12:44 am (UTC)

Date: 2007-02-15 08:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhythmaning.livejournal.com
When I started my journal, I thought I'd write about politics. It is something that I have done, a little - a lot less than I had anticipated. One of the reasons is that I think a lot more people write about politics better than I do.

Still, I'll express an interest...

Date: 2007-02-15 10:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] burkesworks.livejournal.com
Absolutely spot-on analysis; of all the people on my flist, you are the one who "gets it" most consistently when it comes to politics.

My ideal result is Campbell leading a Ministry of All Talents while we have a proper Convention like in 1689

except here, where you mis-spelled "Clegg". The Minger is pretty much a stop-gap, Hughes has a horrible propensity for Lembit-like own goals, Huhne is a little too "Orange Book" and not even guaranteed to win in Eastleigh. Clegg is definitely the coming man; a LibDem politician who actually looks like a winner without any danger of him going the Tory/Tony route.

Date: 2007-02-15 11:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raggedhalo.livejournal.com
I'd be interested in that. As a Green lefty who suspects, as he gets older, that he might be a bit of a social anarchist*, I'm all about this kinda thing.


*: in contrast to the freegan CrimethInc mob...

Date: 2007-02-15 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mooism.livejournal.com
The link purporting to show that Cameron would get an overall majority: He doesn’t provide a rationale for his method of extracting swings from by-election votes — I can’t find one on his site.

I recall when Ashdown’s autobiography came out, it said that Blair offered him a coalition in 1997, and he accepted, but the rest of the parliamentary Lib Dems (rightly, in my view) rejected it. (I didn’t read his book myself, I’m going on other people’s reports of it.)

Date: 2007-02-19 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miss-s-b.livejournal.com
* raises hand *

I'm interested. We seem to be of broadly similar political views.

So long as you can put up with me shipping Michael Portillo/Diane Abbott every Thursday... ;)

Date: 2007-02-19 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miss-s-b.livejournal.com
Grawr Paxman. Portillo can get in the queue for HIM.

;)

Do you watch this week? Are you missing Mark Mardell as keenly as I am? Will you get offended when I refer to that guy from the Daily Hate Mail as Quentin Twat when they have him on?

Date: 2007-02-19 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miss-s-b.livejournal.com
LOL you might have mentioned the no TV thing, yes

* goldfishmemory *

Drive safe, won't you?

* smooch *

Date: 2007-03-24 10:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miss-s-b.livejournal.com
Also also:

* amused that Hazel Blears can't spell interactive *
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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