Tuesday, February 21, 2006

We Have a Dream

There's been quite a bit of talk about the potential confusion which exists regarding the overlap between a liberty coalition and an anti-New Labour coalition. As things stand, most of the people interested in the liberty coalition will also be against the Blair government. (Hello. *waves*) Given the current situation, that is pretty much inevitable.

It is, however, my belief that it is essential that the Liberty Coalition does not allow itself to become defined by what it is against. As such, I broadly agree with Unity. More on that shortly.

But first, the politics of fear. You should read this article in my opinion. No matter where you exist on the political compass, it'll probably provoke a little bit of quiet introspection. Of course, it's easy to argue that you genuinely should be afraid of the things you campaign about but that's missing the point slightly. (If you were ever to meet the author, you would, of course, be legally obliged to ask him why he's so intent on scaring people about how much fear there is in modern politics. But never mind that now.) A short extract doesn't do the article justice but is useful for the purposes of this post:
British politics is currently dominated by debates about the fear of terror, the fear of food, the fear of asylum seekers, the fear of anti-social behaviour, fears over children, fear about health, fear for the environment, fear for our pensions, fears over the future of Europe. The politics of fear transcends the political divide.
That's a whole lot of fear. Blair won the last election based mostly on the fear that to not vote for him would be to let the scary Conservatives in by the back door. Since the election, many people have told me that this was why they voted Labour. This is anecdotal, but I strongly suspect it's representative of a large percentage of the 22% of the voting population who actually voted for the government at the last election. It is also worth pointing out that Sun readers appear to be afraid of the very same things that the Sun likes to whip up frenzies about. Remarkable (although I'm sure they, and Blair, were sorely disappointed by the poor showing of terrorism in that poll. Luckily, they've had lots of chances to move it back up the charts recently). Fear is a powerful motivator. And it works, at least some of the time.

But this sort of politics does not make people feel safe, never mind happy. In Britain, human beings are probably as safe as they have ever been - diseases are far more controlled than ever before, average life expectancy is increasing, violent death is actually extremely rare, the possibility of military attacks against UK citizens minimal, and conscription hugely unlikely - but fear has never been more prevalent. This is obviously not an intellectually healthy state of affairs.

I've linked to this post before but I'm going to do it again because it is very good indeed.
Modern western leaders can be split into two broad categories. The ones that use visions and dreams to lead their people away from fear towards justice and liberty, and the ones that empower fear and ignorance to lead their people back into the dark.
We must be sure to be in the correct category.

This is why it is so important that we strive to offer something positive for the future and why I agree with Unity. The central focus of the coalition should not be opposition to Blair's statism but the promotion of something more visionary and more inspiring. We need to grip people with enthusiasm for the future, not scare them with fears of Blair/Brown. We want constitutional reforms which will make Britain a better place for us, and more importantly, for our children and their children too.

As for tactical voting, as I said in a comment Unity's post, it may be a necessary evil. It's hard to see how this coalition could affect the policies of the Blair/Brown Labour agenda without threatening their power through the ballot box; if Brown wins the next election, it's probably going to be business as usual. As such, tactical voting may be a way of exerting pressure. The general election is a long way off at this stage and time will tell. Perhaps, as the election nears, an active "none of the above" vote would be worth considering. Perhaps, Gordon will surprise us all as he finally emerges from his Blairite cocoon to reveal a beautifully liberal mind (no, I don't believe there's even an outside chance that this'll happen either to be honest).

Whatever the tactics, we must be clear that the campaign is focused on securing positive goals.

In the meantime, I also fully support the calls to vote for anyone but Labour in the local elections (even though we're not having any up here) in order to bloody Blair's nose. This, I believe, might finally knock him off his perch (along with the potential rebellion over his education reforms). At the very least, it might make Blair and Brown realise that they cannot continue to run roughshod over the political process. To my mind, this is an overlapping, very much interconnected but still seperate issue.

* Which reminds me that I must get round to updating my blogroll. There's a fair few bloggers I've been meaning to add for ages.

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