Scots Man Speak Um Forked Tongue

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Have you read the Times over the last few months? You have? Then, you’ll know that it has a very simple prescription for what the Lib Dems should do. Essentially it is this: dump all that social liberal nonsense, embrace economic liberalism and turn ourselves into the UK equivalent of the German FDP. The shorthand they use for this is “modernisation.”

So, when Ming starts crowing about how the Times has not only backed him, but is emphasising his “modernising” agenda, one can only conclude that his campaign is speaking in the same code. Except of course that they will deny it.

In many respects, this endorsement is more damning than Toynbee’s endorsement of Chris Huhne – note how Chris’ campaign team chose not to mention that endorsement on their website (very wise). In the past I have dismissed sentiments such as John Harris’ claim that Ming is the “Orange Book Trojan Horse” as a) not understanding what the Orange Book is and b) overestimating the so-called “Orange Bookers.” But this decision to wear the Times’ badge with pride does rather lend credence that it is David Laws, not Shirley Williams, who has got Ming’s ear.

Put simply: what does it say about Ming that he is happy to accept the endorsement of both the Guardian and the Times? We have reached the limits of the “all things to all people” approach, and it is time we defined ourselves better. Both papers endorse Ming for entirely different reasons: who is he going to disappoint?

5 thoughts on “Scots Man Speak Um Forked Tongue

  1. James – “Put simply: what does it say about Ming that he is happy to accept the endorsement of both the Guardian and the Times? We have reached the limits of the “all things to all people” approach, and it is time we defined ourselves better. Both papers endorse Ming for entirely different reasons: who is he going to disappoint?”

    I and many others don’t see a conflict in this. It is entirely consistent to be able to support laudable social liberal aspirations and also support a sound economic and fiscal policy that pays for them.

    Nick Clegg used a great example of this at our recent constituency dinner. Examining our recent 50p in the pound rate, he asked what this was going towards funding. The answer? Scrapping tuition fees, abolishing care for the elderly, and relief for LIT. All of which benefits the Middle Class over and above the poor. Nick argued that he would find it far easier to defend a 50p rate were it to be used for something like raising thresholds on the lowest paid, which would be a far more laudable proposal than what we had in the manifesto.

    Similarly, he pointed out that David Law’s much-maligned health proposals only mirror what many other Social Democratic European states (such as La Toynbee’s much beloved Sweden) have as their models, and with better helath outcomes for the poor than we do with the NHS.

    ATEOTD the point of the Orange Book was to re-examine economic liberalism and stimulate debate. Simply to shout down its proposals without looking at them dispassionately and in detail does no-one a service.

  2. I would agree with much of what you say Steve – indeed I’ve written as much. The point is however that the Times DOES see a contradiction (let’s leave aside the Guardian for a second which has less of an explicit agenda). Accepting their endorsement – especially when they use the “M” word – is tantamount to accepting their agenda.

  3. James,

    I think you’re reading too much into it.

    If a paper backs us, we list ’em.

    I also hadn’t understood the reference to modernisation in the way you refer to… and your first paragraph paraphrasing the Times’s view bears no resemblance to Ming’s manifesto. For a start, Ming’s manifesto has an extremely strong commitment to social justice – something I personally found more motivating – and more explicitly expressed – than the party manifesto we all ran on in 2005. If people want to know what Ming stands for, there’s plenty for them to read on the website.

    If the Times are expecting an FDP-type party under Ming’s leadership, they are going to be sorely disappointed.

    Martin

  4. It is entirely reasonable for you to list all your endorsements. What I question is the decision to put it a) on your front page and b) to single out the weasel word “moderniser” which is ill-understood, even if you were entirely ignorant of what the Times means by it.

    By contrast, the Huhne site includes a quote from Polly but didn’t flag it up as a major coup. If they had done, I’m 100% confident that the criticism would have been far greater than Iain Sharpe’s amusing tease.

  5. James,

    It never appeared on the front page. It only appeared in the media centre.

    A pretty reasonable place to put it.

    Martin

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