Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right - Never Have The Liberal Democrats Been More Needed

05/10/2016 13:27
Joe Giddens/PA Wire

This morning I appeared on BBC Radio Leicester's Breakfast Show, contributing to a discussion about the state of British politics today...and, specifically, if there is any real opposition to this dreadful Tory Brexit government.

As I was collecting my thoughts and preparing to go live, it struck me.

It might not fully know it yet, but Britain needs the Liberal Democrats now more than ever.
It needs us to rebuild, win again and help fight the extremes of far-Left and hard-Right which now dominate the Labour and Conservative parties.

As, I'm told, happened in the early 80's when Militant infiltrated the Labour Party and Michael Foot (despite being, personally, a man of letters and great integrity) was wilfully incapable of leading the rabble that was Labour then (and now, some would argue), it gives permission for the hard-Right in the Conservatives to dominate their own party.

This means that both of our biggest parties are dominated by the political extremes.

And, when that happens, the people that suffer are those least able to weather the storms.

We've seen it in some of the headlines in our newspapers today.

'Firms must list Foreign workers' screams The Times front-page.

Let's be blunt.

This kind of rhetoric is utterly, utterly shameful.

It's the kind of thing you'd expect to hear from the BNP or UKIP.

It is not the Britain I believe in and love.

The country I believe in is liberal, open, multicultural; a place where, as long as you abide by the law, you can be what you want to be and behave how you want to behave.

The country I believe in knows that whilst, yes, more needs to be done to reassure nervous communities who've believed the lies of our often populist press, we know that immigration is a blessing, not a curse.

And a country where, when those laws are demonstrably wrong/inculcates inequality, we come together to create change.

And when the extremes of far-Left and hard-Right dominate our major parties, it also leads...almost, inevitably, to the rise of both hard and soft nationalism.

It's no wonder that the Scottish Nationalists are pretty dominant north of the border and how, despite the farce of its leader resigning after just eighteen days in the job, UKIP (who are, in effect, English Nationalists) remain, sadly, very appealing to many people who feel globalisation and the Westminster elite has left them behind.

Now, don't get me wrong, there's a big difference between the broadly social democratic SNP and the hard-Right UKIP.

But, nationalists are nationalists and-as Lib Dem leader Tim Farron often says-"patriots love their country. nationalists hate their neighbours."

So, that is the political reality we live with across these islands today.

A far-Left Labour Party, a hard-Right Conservative Party, and the threat of nationalism rising across the country.

Never before have the moderate Centre-Left Liberal Democrats been more needed than now.
We are the realistic radicals; the pragmatic progressives.

Liberalism, by its very nature, is an ideology which is against extremes of all kinds.
Being liberal is to be thoughtful, decent, celebrating of difference.

Being liberal and, indeed, social democratic is to seek the best way to resolve the issues and problems we face...whilst, always, being there for the least, the last and the lost.

No wonder so many people-especially former Labour members who recognise that their old party has abandoned all pretence of being moderate-are joining the Lib Dems.

My party now has more members than at any time this century.

It's no wonder, also, that we're winning Council by-elections up and down the country...taking seats off the far-Left, the hard-Right and nationalists of Left and Right too.

People are desperate for a moderate, rational, compassionate politics.

Today, as historically has been the case so often, only the Liberal Democrats can meet that need.

So, if you feel abandoned by parties which have been overtaken by the extremes, I implore you:
Come home...join the Liberal Democrats!