Tag Archives: lib dems

It’s Iraq, stupid

This brilliant article in today’s Times calls this “the Basil Fawlty” election (the UK general election I mean, not the one for the new Pope). Journo Martin Samuel’s reference is to the John Cleese character’s catchphrase “Don’t mention the war!”, on account of the three main parties’ hypocritical and cowardly silence over Iraq. But another quote from that great TV series also springs to mind, the one about “the bleedin’ obvious”.

Samuel’s piece, in being staggeringly simple, honest and true, is exactly the opposite of the politicians’ bluster. Iraq is the real divisive issue in this election, the real issue, the only issue. It’s bleedin’ obvious – but nobody seems to be seeing it. Worryingly, one of the people not seeming to see it is Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats. As Jeremy Paxman said to him in a TV grilling last night, “You were the only party that opposed the war. People should be flocking to you in droves. Why aren’t they?”

“There remains a tremendous amount of anger over the invasion of Iraq,” writes Samuel, “and Kennedy is the only party leader that can rightfully lay claim to it. Howard supported the war, Blair started it, but Kennedy spoke against it throughout. This is what any capable marketing executive would call his Unique Selling Point. The Lib Dems should be the true opposition party in this election, yet they are stuck peddling the same tired lines as the big two.”

The reason for this, it seems to me, is that the Lib Dems are afraid (as, in fairness, would the other two parties be if they were in the same position) that the electorate will turn off if they start talking about “stuff happening abroad”; the emphasis of policy, it is perceived, has to be on what’s happening at home – hospitals, tax, education, crime. But this isn’t a normal election with only those normal election issues at stake. As Samuel says, “Vote for what you think a politician will achieve, based around a loose bag of pledges, promises, bluster and speculation. The war is not like that. It happened. We’re in. They’re dead.”

And, I would add – even if Charles Kennedy won’t – vote Lib Dem.

Brown ‘lifts Labour’s hopes for big majority’

According to today’s Observer, Labour are several points ahead of the Tories in the paper’s latest opinion poll. This article also reports that Peter Hain “launched a fierce attack on self-indulgent ‘dinner party critics’ among the liberal middle classes who are tempted to use the ballot box to punish Blair”. By doing so, he says, such voters “would only hurt the poorest, who were dependent on a Labour victory”. Blair has “got the message” about their displeasure, Hain insists, arguing that those who still disagreed over Iraq or civil liberties “should reopen the arguments after the election”. “There’s now a kind of dinner party critics [sic] who quaff shiraz or chardonnay and just sneeringly say, ‘You are no different from the Tories,'” Hain goes on. “Most of the people in this category are pretty comfortably off: it’s not going to be the end of the world if they get a Tory government. In a working-class constituency like mine, this is a lifeline. It’s not a luxury.”

Well, I have no doubt Peter Hain would love for Iraq and civil liberties to slip off the agenda until after the election. However, he might like to know that it is precisely because of these two issues that I will not be voting Labour on 5th May. He needn’t worry, though, about my vote going to the Tories – they are indeed the totally desperate option. As one of the middle-class liberals he so despises (and, therefore, very proud of it), as stated elsewhere here I will be voting Lib Dem.

Incidentally, Peter should note that I prefer cabernet sauvignon to shiraz, although seeing as he’s so busy generalising I doubt he’s got time for such details. And by the way, are we middle classes he lambasts the same middle classes as those his party want “the poor” to aspire to being? Surely not!

Liberal Democrats rebranded

mad.co.uk, an online magazine for creative and media characters whose weekly email I’ve somehow managed to subscribe to, are currently running an “election special”, approaching leading branding and design agencies to “revamp the visual identities and brand positioning” of the main parties. This week they’re focusing on the Liberal Democrats, whom Thoughtcat believes represent the only decent choice in the coming election. The posters and slogan (“Honesty is our best policy”), created by The Design Group, is pretty good IMHO, and has prompted me to have a go myself. I’m no professional designer or ad person (“No kidding!” – The Design Group) but I’ve come up with three newspaper ads / posters and put them on my main site at www.thoughtcat.com/libdems.htm


The governments the world over are now busy studiously “ignoring” all the demonstrations from Saturday. It really is hypocrisy of the highest order because the next time they want our votes they’ll be waving whatever carrots they can find under our noses. I don’t think people’s memories will be that short this time, though. Why don’t these dickheads just have it out between themselves in a boxing ring when it’s obvious that so many ordinary people don’t want to be part of their war? It seems clear to me that Tony Blair has had his day now. I guess the only problem is who’s going to replace him: would a new Labour leader really make a difference or would the party just eventually spin itself back up its own arse? The Tories are absolutely pointless, Duncan Smith the living definition of a platitude, and in any case I wouldn’t want them back in. Maybe Charles Kennedy’s ship really is coming in; could the Liberal Democrats really be The Third Way?