Clegg must not be allowed to use pluralism as an excuse for Coalition…

Whilst I have full applause for Caroline Lucas’s Guardian article re pluralism; which for me was a much better assessment of the need for a pluralistic approach – instead of producing endless demanding lists of areas where Labour need to change, a much more constructive approach is required – I do not share the same praise for Nick Clegg’s latest (and frequent) musings regarding pluralism.

The argument “if you don’t support the coalition you are against pluralistic politics”, rather misses the actual point and meaning of pluralism in politics – well when addressed regarding what the LibDems ‘used’ to stand for; now they seem much more like a modified Tory party. Before the election, the LibDems were closer to Labour on many areas, and many of their ‘faithful’ (not to Liberal tradition mind) figureheads would have told you that (and still do). But it was up to a few at the top to do a deal with the Tories.

Regardless, the LibDems compromised in a way that changed the actual doctrine and premise of their support base – that was and is why they have seen such a negative reaction. Nick Clegg reaffirms this as he says that people wouldn’t have supported them joining Labour as it would have been as discredited as they ‘lost’ the election (even though he also contends that no one actually won the election), he tellingly rarely mentions the actual values of Labour (even though they do need to reform, they were a much closer to the former progressive LibDems).

The point is, the pluralism that the Greens and some of Labour talk about would not include the Tories, as it is a progressive pluralistic position. There is no way that the Greens would ever support economic masochism that stands fundamentally against everything we believe in the name of pluralism, and get away with it. Yes, we would have to support the odd policy here and there that we might not agree with – but pluralism isn’t about getting all your own way, but nor is it about changing fundamentally what you stand for in the name of the blurry eyed and social constructed concept of ‘national interest’.

Clegg attempts to utilise the progressive argument of pluralism, whilst he remains in a deal that upholds tribalism in its strictest sense as the parties are often in headlock over so many areas; it prevents pluralism from flourishing. However, there is an aspect of the LibDems that has come through to cement a strong relationship with the Tories – this being steered by the leadership, not the majority of the membership (consider the votes against academies for example, whilst prominent cabinet ministers supported the policy – even those who once slandered the ideas) – but this isn’t an aspect of communal support re grass-roots.

Pluralism is very much a concept of the left, and the progressives. It is now for the progressives amongst us to show Clegg what pluralism is! Hopefully, Ed Miliband will embrace this concept and take up Lucas’s challenge; after all he needs to. There needs to be movements towards cooperative movements and organisations and mutual and cooperative structures to remove the state dominant over-handed structures in society – a revaluation of the state is central to move forward.

There are many challenges for pluralism, and overcoming the slogan orientated approach of Clegg is one of them. He is branding around the concept as though anyone who uses it against the coalition are ignorant to the reality of so-called ‘pluralistic’ politics of the coalition. We need to make sure that pluralism has a positive orientation associated with the progressives amongst us, and that pluralism is not used as an excuse for excessive and ideological cutting instead of being about shared and consensual, whilst principled, decision making.

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15 thoughts on “Clegg must not be allowed to use pluralism as an excuse for Coalition…

  1. so what your saying is that if the LDs had forged a coalition with Labour then that would be OK .LDs have always stood for coalition politics it would have been bizarre and hypocritical if they had rejected a coalition with the Tories saying ‘well what we meant was coalition with Labour’ or ‘no thanks we prefer the purity of opposition’

  2. Your missing what I am saying. The LibDems formed a coalition with the Tories going against everything they stood for in the election campaign. Pluralism cannot be used as an excuse to abandon what you stand for – and that is what the LibDems are doing. If they had fought an election campaign on the basis of things they are supposedly agreeing to now, then fair does to them if they had joined the Tories – but they thought it on the basis that they were the replacement to Labour; so one would assume they are much closer to Labour then!

  3. No they went into Coalition .Coalition involves compromise and negotiation .You can’t expect to get all your manifesto into government in a coalition .The Coalition agreement represents a compromise for both parties .Objective third party analysis of the two manifestos shows the Coalition agreement represents about 45% of the LD manifesto proportionally more than the no of MPs they bring to the Coalition.If you don’t believe me then look at the two manifestos side by side with the detailed Coalition agreement.
    For example: Rise in Personal Income Tax threshold to £10k by end of Parliament or increase of CGT or reform of HoL

    For those moaning about the govt a Tory Govt with a LD shield they should have a look at the moaning on Conservative Home on the leftward drift of the Coalition on things like the EU and Prisons Policy kind of shows the balance is right

  4. I love this attitude, that when someone you don’t like claims an idea (without actively excluding you!), you protest, but when you want to claim an idea AND exclude others from it, that’s all fine and dandy because you’re “morally right” (or whatever your reasoning is). Pluralism’s definition does not belong to the Left. It does not have ‘Left’ encoded into it. And Left does not strictly equal Progressive in this country’s politics (although it does in other jurisdictions). You just seem to want “Left” to be encoded somewhere so as to support your own sense of moral superiority.

    Some definitions?

    1 a condition or system in which two or more states, groups, principles, sources of authority, etc., coexist.
    • a form of society in which the members of minority groups maintain their independent cultural traditions.
    • a political theory or system of power-sharing among a number of political parties.
    • a theory or system of devolution and autonomy for individual bodies in preference to monolithic state control.

    Hmmm… Which of these are we not currently experiencing?

    I’m sure you could twist so that ‘Oh, the Lib Dems aren’t a source of authority, they’re puppets!’; we could say that a change in the voting system would bolster support for minority political parties (such as the Greens); we might pedantically argue that “a number” requires more than two (although aren’t there Labour politicians who’ve been helping the coalition in certain contexts?); and rejecting monolithic state control actually seems to come into a number of coalition policies (and certainly goes against the ‘observation state’ that Labour was setting up!)…

    Let’s get the ideology out in the open first (the Tories should be excluded from political life, apparently). This would be justifiable and leave us with a “good” pluralism (according to you) because it includes various shades of “the Left” in it. Technically, on a definition of the word, this might be pluralism. It certainly seems a ridiculously unrealistic and possibly hypocritical breed of it, though….

  5. You both are missing my argument.

    I wasn’t saying pluralism belongs to the left – I just don’t like Clegg’s argument that the coalition formed due to pluralism when the LibDems fought the election on a premise fundamentally opposed to the Tories. But now, they are a lot more similar to them, and so yes, pluralism in that sense does exist – but it wasn’t the particularistic politics people voted for – more people voted for social democratic policies than tory right wing policies.

  6. ‘fundamentally opposed to the Tories. But now, they are a lot more similar to them’

    In what precise way did the LDs fundamentally oppose the Tories and in what precise way are they similar to them ?

    Like I said above its simply about coalition politics the ultimate form of pluralism .

    I have got to say I am really surprised that it is the left seem to have really struggled with the concept of coalition/pluralism I expected the Tories to but that have embraced coalition and pluralism with gusto and sincerity.

  7. The LibDems fought an election against savage cuts and economic illogical policies that the coalition are engaging themselves in. They thought an election arguing against the big society as empty rhetoric for cuts. They fought an election for Europe, not against as they are now. They fought an election against free schools, they are supporting them now. They campaigned for Pr not AV.

    Fundamentally the LibDems fought an election on fairness and are now embarking on the opposite.

    My point is however, they are a lot similar to the Tories than they let on so pluralism for the coalition works in the way the LibDems are now.

  8. Like I said Coalition involves compromise and the left just don’t seem able to grasp that much to my surprise .
    On Europe the Coalition has abandoned the Tory position and adopted the LD one.You have heard no moans about the EU and the policy on repatriating powers from Brussels has bee dropped.The hand of friendship has been extended to Germany and France by Clegg and Hague.
    The LDs did campaign for savage cuts (Nick Clegg was the first to use the word ‘Savage’) it was the timing they disagreed on but when in power realised the seriousness of the ‘Sovereign Default’ crisis in the EU.
    Where’s your evidence that the Coalition isn’t committed to fairness -rise in personal tax allowance perhaps,rise in CGT for the rich or perhaps the increase in minimum wage ?
    You just have no evidence that the Big Society is cover for cuts .

  9. Compromise of such level that the principles of what your party stand for just seem to collapse into thin air? Not a sort of compromise i would encourage.

    So why in the coalition document have they agreed not to pass any more powers from Westminster to Brussels and there is a talk of brining in this sovereign law? The LibDems were edging towards that anyway at the end, as they were arguing for a referendum on whether we should stay within EU which was stupid and pointless and more eurosceptic than the Tories in ways. Also, they are opting out of directives such as the one recently that would have helped provide more assistance with trafficking that can only be sorted out internationally.

    And if you remember, when Nick Clegg used savage he was really really criticised by his party. Also, they campaigned against cuts this year, and campaigned against them being as deep as the Tories want. Level and speed of cuts do make a difference.

    HAHA! I love that – tireless but factually incorrect argument. Have a read of this – http://www.nextleft.org/2010/03/why-libdem-tax-threshold-plan-would.html and http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/05/clegg%E2%80%99s-10k-tax-allowance-is-no-tory-concession-its-a-tory-dream/ – that successfully dispels the myth that the rise in personal tax allowance is fair or progressive, it is one of the most regressive policies that has been brought in for a long time, especially if it gets up to 10thousand – and it is one notably the Tories have wanted to bring in themselves.

    CGT is no where as near as highly increased as it was set to be. Also, if you look at things such as the cooperation tax being reduced, this actually cancels out the bank levy and actually sees some banks making a profit – how fair?!

    Oh, and i think there is a lot of evidence. Take for example, one of the areas it is being trialled in, valuable youth services are being cut. What is the sense of encouraging voluntary work when councils will be forced to cut the very provision for the existing voluntary work. I am all for localism but in a more cooperative workers council Chomsky with central coordination kind of way.

  10. Well on the EU issue first the Coalition Doc is an agreement not to pass further powers to EU without a referendum not an agreement not to pass further powers.LDs have always stood for referenda its right that constitutional change whether it be UK or EU should be approved .The Tory policy of renegotiating Lisbon and repatriating powers has been dropped.

    The repeal of Human Rights Act has been dropped is that ‘thin air’

    You said that my argument on raising the personal tax threshold to £10k is a ‘factually incorrect argument’ well no its a matter of opinion and the ones you quote are two left wing blogs. All political parties claim fairness as theirs only those in power get to put that into practice and we’ll see whats fair when its implemented.Oh by the way as well as Personal Tax Thresholds ,increasing CGT the Coalition has also now linked State Pensions to earnings hardly’thin air’

    On the Big Society wait and see there’s not enough evidence yet .

    The Coalition and the compromise is one LD members and supporters are happy with.The opposition on the left and right is anti pluralist and only aim to bring the coalition down as if it suceeds it will permanently shift the centre of gravity of british politics to the centre right.

    Voters will be the judge not the opposition parties .

  11. Pingback: The Big Society is a bit too much like the LibDems for the Tories: a coverup | My Political Ramblings

  12. Yes, but the acceptance of a referendum technically means no new powers, as how many referendum do you think they are going to justify the costs for?!! The LibDems have not always stood for a referendum on whether we should be in the EU or not – that is a totally different issue!

    So you tell me why income threshold increase is fair then? I have gave you my view, that it will be a very regressive policy – so you substantiate yours. And state pensions new linking will be very unfair, as it will actually cut their pension level. Again, there is a lot of information on this.

    Ha, the coalition and british politics is already dominated by centre right views – look at the use of the “red ed” – he isn’t even that left wing.

  13. On the EU and referenda issue .To clarify LDs have always stood for referenda on constitutional issues thats what I meant to say.We should not agree to further transfers of power to EU unless we have a referendum.As it happens I don’t think there is currently any appetite in the member states for another Lisbon type exercise at least not for another 10 years.I think an in or out referendum would be good (though not recent LD policy)as its time we cleared the air and made a clear decision for the future rather than being in the EU shouting the odds and wanting all the benefits and not accepting the downsides.

    On the Income tax threshold analysis Left Foot Forward put forward a good case but they themselves admit that its doesn’t take account of the overall package of policies as a whole.You can only assess fairness in terms of all of the other policies a party is planning to enact. In this case in particular the balance between this policy closing loopholes (tackling tax avoidance) ,CGT , Green taxes and the of 50 p top rate.
    Regressive,progressive and fair are all in the eye of the beholder essentially .
    As I said the electorate will be the judge .

  14. Oh – yes, i agree they have there – but not on pulling out of EU or not; that was just added in the election campaign to attract southerners. And why do we need another referendum when we have already had one. We joined Europe late and look at the economic and political damages that did us. We are better fighting within to change the structures. Most of our laws are now involved in Europe, so we need to be in it and we need international agreement to challenge things such as climate change and crime. I agree, we shouldn’t have an idealistic view regarding Europe, but I don’t think any party has that type of view, even pro ones such as LibDems.

    I am talking about the policy on an individualistic basis, and i think it is totally unfair and will if carried out to the full extent be a billionaire cutting exercise with little benefit except for those who are not in the need for additional help. The tax avoidance we will have to see if anything actually happens, some think that the cuts in the departments will actually undermine any commitments to helping further this area of investigation. I hope they crack down on that, but the devil is on the detail. And it has to be more on tax evasion than avoidance. CGT should be higher. Green taxes need to be more extensive (as well as the need for renewable energy boom with an investment in green energy that would create lots of jobs.

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