The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Potatoes to go with the meat
by Peter

Let me go out on a limb and say that I think it would be a good idea to ban free speech at Lib Dem conference.

I don´t want people to stop criticising the leadership. I don´t mind motions being referred back (refer'em all back, I say). I don´t even mind people making the same speech year after year. No. I would just like delegates to cease using the words "radical policies".

And this isn´t because I am against Radicalism. Rather the contrary. If Radicalism means getting to the roots of a problem (and I think it does) then I am all in favour of it. But sometimes the "radicalism" on offer is simply the sticking plaster writ large, or is the idea no government can implement.

And all too often we use it to mean "different from the other parties". Or even "so weird no other party will dream of putting it forward". Because we want to use policies for positioning, for product differentation. And this gets in the way of considering policies on their merits and in the round. We need to ask questions such as "will it work?" and "could the UK afford this" more often, and worry less about whether other parties are saying the same thing. We are automatically distinct on civil liberties, the constitution, and Iraq.

Of course we need some radical policies. Indeed we should always aim to treat causes rather than symptoms. But success in government - and in elections - requires a lot of boringly sensible policies to go with the radical ones. In the words of James Chard, "we need some potatoes to go with the meat".
posted by Peter Pigeon @ 4:41 pm  
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"What is Liberalism?: I should say it means the acknowledgment in practical life of the truth that men are best governed who govern themselves; that the general sense of mankind, if left alone, will make for righteousness; that artificial privileges and restraints upon freedom, so far as they are not required in the interests of the community, are hurtful; and that the laws, while, of course, they cannot equalise conditions, can at least avoid aggravating inequalities, and ought to have for their object the securing to every man the best chance he can have of a good and useful life." C-B.


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