A Good Kicking

March 4, 2011

A Good Kicking for whom?

I woke up again this morning to the headline that the Liberal Democrats got a good kicking, this time in yesterday’s Barnsley by- election. Since Lib Dem bashing has become a national sport, journalists didn’t have to think long to come up with that headline.

Had they been a little less lazy then a much more interesting headline would have been: People overwhelmingly return a party back to power whose previous member has gone to jail for expenses fraud.
Only 6 weeks ago something similar happened in Oldham East. An MP had to resign from his seat because of wrong-doing and his party gets back in.

What these two results seem to show is that cleaning up politics is not important for people in Barnsley and Oldham. It seems to indicate that people easily forgive corruption and wrong-doing by politicians as long as their party promises them some castles in the sky or scares them.
Winning elections by playing on peoples’ irrationalities is a cheap victory for which no thinking Labour party supporter should be proud.

When I grew up in the seventies being left wing was about having a critical mind and being sceptical of big party manipulation; the left stood up for emancipation and freedom of the individual against the apparatus of the state and the big parties, whose self interest perpetuates the status quo.

None of the ideals are alive in the Labour party today. The Labour party as it presents itself today is full of people and messages, used to power but void of new ideas, blocking progress or change, unresponsive to a proper rational debate and unable to admit past mistakes. This is the attitude of a tired party stuck in negativity and denial.
This Labour only appeals to voters who are as depressed, resigned and negative about the future as them; so resigned in fact, that they allow a party to continue in power in their area, whose members are corrupt, manipulative and deeply cynical.




  1. Spot on. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

  2. Hi Wera,

    Your post attacks the press, Labour and the Barnsley/Oldham electorate – why?

    The LD candidate Dom Carmen said : “The voters here in Barnsley have given me and the Liberal Democrats a kicking. We can take it.” That’s where the headline comes from – not journalists, our guy.

    Most modern election campaigns are, sadly, about understanding and exploiting peoples irrational motivations. Lib Dems do it just as much as anyone else and we did it in Barnsley. Look at the LD leaflets, classic deception by omission; not lying, just not giving people all the facts. That lost a good few votes – most people aren’t fooled by the graph manipulation thing any more, rather insulted by it.

    It’s unseemly to lose and slag the other parties off as a response. You simply haven’t left any room for there being something wrong with us, and that will look most unsporting (maybe delusional) to a casual observer.

    How you infer that this means “that cleaning up politics is not important for people in Barnsley and Oldham” is utterly beyond me. They’ve not elected the same people, there’s no reason to believe these new MP’s are corrupt and it’s improper to suggest that’s the case. Many of the charges that you’ve leveled at Labour could easily be returned at us.

    We need to put our own house in order before we can continue our crusade of self-righteousness, that never won us many votes anyway. I’d rather of read a post about what we could of improved upon, we’re not incorrigible and transference is not the answer.

    • Fair enough the ‘kicking’ quote came from the candidate, but my point stays the same , namely that the news was that Lib Dems didn’t do well, rather than that the electorate in Barnsley had quickly forgotten that the previous Labour MP is now sitting in jail for fraudently taking public money. What on earth was all the fuss about nearly 2 years ago if a party that has by now produced 2 MPs in jail and one disqualified to stand again for public office can so easily get away with it? No other party has the same record.

      • Hi Wera,

        It’s not that “we didn’t do well”, it’s that we experienced “the biggest drop, in terms of ranking, at an English by-election since 1945”. That’s both noteworthy and newsworthy.

        Your response to this seems to be to blame everyone else. I don’t understand that, and I’m on your side. You persist in blaming the electorate or Labour and still haven’t conceded that we’ve got anything wrong. It’s not a good look.

        People are starting to get the impression that the LD answer to everything is to blame “the previous Labour administration”. I preferred Farron’s response.

        You talk a lot about “people” negatively here; in politics that’s one of the final losing moves, because you’re expressing that you don’t understand the actions of the general public and think them unhinged/stupid/apathetic/delete as applicable. We are destined to lose in this mindset, it would be far better to focus on how to improve than getting angry at “people”.

        Several Lib Dem candidates lost their seats as a result of the expenses scandal; we’re not whiter than white, we may be whiter than red but that’s another poor argument. Many of our MP’s had to repay money, including our leader. Many members of the public now believe most MP’s are crooks, so whether they’re in jail or parliament has little impact on public opinion.

        The reason they’re blaming the national party is that all other factors were fairly much the same (candidate, campaign, etc). If you have a better explanation then that would be far more interesting.

        “I am always rather sceptical of people telling me that they are former Lib dem voters.”

        You don’t believe people that tell you they used to vote Lib Dem? Why would they lie to you?!! WHY?!

        “I wonder what you voted Liberal Democrats for in the past and what exactly you think Liberal Democrats have abandonded as their fundandamental values?”

        I hope this was rhetorical (not addressed to me). I’ve always voted Lib Dem – you’re not helping, but it’s still true.

        You’ve made all sorts of assumptions you’re not entitled to about all sorts of people. What emerges is a fictitious narrative that bares little relation to reality, and exposes a broad seam of anger and paranoia.

        Sorry if this seems a little harsh, I’m just concerned about these types of responses as I don’t think they get us anywhere. I’ve always enjoyed your blog and respect the work you do, but I’m concerned that posts like this reinforce a collective negative self-image.

        Have a good weekend.

  3. People vote on party political lines. You can’t say in one breath that the Lib Dems got a good kicking not the Lib Dem candidate while the Labour man was elected having nothing to do with his party. That is what I call double standards! Just as when people don’t like the spending cuts but forget which party got the country into this mess in the first place.
    I am always rather sceptical of people telling me that they are former Lib dem voters. I wonder what you voted Liberal Democrats for in the past and what exactly you think Liberal Democrats have abandonded as their fundandamental values?

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