Monday, March 28, 2011

The (re-)birth of the Social Democrats

It is reported that Nick Clegg has ordered a rebranding exercise of the Liberal Democrats to allay fears that his party has shifted too far to the right in coalition with the Conservatives. Apparently, he wants to include the word ‘social’ to give the impression that they are still concerned with such ethical issues as equality and fraternity. That would be consistent, not least because they call themselves both ‘liberal ‘and democrat’, despite being neither tolerant of religious diversity nor particularly respectful of the will of the majority. Last week, LibDem Scottish MSP Hugh O’Donnell resigned from the party claiming that the leadership was ‘neither Liberal nor Democratic’.

If their own politicians believe this, they evidently need no Tory to point it out to them.

Will rebranding help? Pre-fixing Labour with ‘New’ certainly worked, though the ditching of ‘Clause 4’ established a change which was rather more than skin deep, and Tony Blair was the very incarnation of that change. Replacing a patriotic red, white and blue torch with a green tree has not really worked for the Conservatives, and the ‘decontamination’ of the Tory brand continues apace. Ultimately, political philosophy is more important than slogans and logos, and philosophies take generations to develop an incarnational identity, which is perhaps why neither Labour nor the Conservatives ever seriously considered a name change, as Nick Clegg is reported to have initiated.

What would they call themselves? The Liberal Social Democrats is an awful mouthful and the acronym LSD presents an immediate problem, though in terms of their perception of reality it might be appropriate. Perhaps Social Liberal Democrats might be possible, though this abbreviates to SoLiD, which is just silly, and ‘Social Liberals’ sounds sexually cultish. This just leaves the Social Democrats, which is a tried and tested party name and well-established political philosophy all over the world.

But the problem is the UK already has a Social Democratic Party (with 41 members and 4 councillors, no less, and is listed on the Register of Political Parties for England). These Social Democrats profess a direct lineage to the Jenkins-Owen-Rogers-Williams SDP of the 1980s, though it is not clear why they did not find common ground with Tony Blair's New Labour, as the SDP founders and many supporters did. It could hardly have been down to incompatible philosophies: David Willetts once observed that Tony Blair was trying to copy continental Christian Democracy with 'The Project'. Certainly, he moved Labour very much towards the federalising agenda of the EU, not to mention the idealistic belief in the moral regeneration of society, and was duly rewarded with the ‘Charlemagne Prize’ for services to European integration. The Liberal Democrats are very much of this Europhile mould, though rather more secular in their social philosophy than morally regenerative in a Roman Catholic sense.

Perhaps it would be wise for the Liberal Democrats to retain ‘Liberal’ in order to ground them in their historic foundation. And they can’t drop ‘democrat’ because the word really is the last vestige of that political process they retain. A democratic temper is not only incompatible with the authoritarian dogmatism of the Liberal Democrats; it requires large concessions to the exigencies of practical politics as well as toleration of diverse traditions and beliefs. The party, like all of them, is a coalition, and any rebranding that involves a name-change would need to be a very sensitive pursuit, not least because its final ends are dependent upon democratic means. Tilt too far either way, and the Liberal Democrats could split into their Liberal and Social Democratic factions. A revived Gladstonian Liberal Party of Millite possessive individualism would find much common ground with the Conservatives, and the Social Democrat rump could either coalesce with the existing 41 or try to inject Ed Miliband’s reversion to Old Labour with a degree of Blairite moderation.

Ultimately, of course, rebranding is a superficial marketing strategy, and one may well ask what on earth makes Nick Clegg believe the British public will be fooled by such an exercise. They can ditch the parrot and adopt a set of scales, but that won’t dupe anyone into believing they care more about justice than the orange feathers convinced us they soared above the clouds as free as a bird. They can re-name themselves Social Democrats, but a Snicker is still a Marathon, and Starburst will always be Opal Fruits.

But they are desperate: the party faces a decimation (at least) in Holyrood and wipe-out in the English local elections. Nick Clegg has to be seen to be doing something to placate his party’s rank and file and keep Chris Huhne from the leadership door (not least because Mr Huhne is anxious that he is likely to lose the very marginal seat of Eastleigh at the next general election unless he can pull something out of the bag; the profile of the party leadership might just save him). But being seen to be doing is rather more important in modern politics than actually doing. And His Grace is persuaded (not entirely by cynicism) that this story is all froth and bubble. The Conservatives agreed to a five-year coalition deal with a party called the Liberal Democrats; dissolve that, and the contract for government is void.


Blogger Dilettante said...

Good post. I addressed the issue of the Liberal Democrats splitting and rejoining the major parties back in January:

Given that the Labour Party is social democratic and economic liberals can be more than comfortable in the Conservatives, they'd probably do more to achieve their ends within those organisations.

28 March 2011 at 10:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will Cameron order a “re-branding” of the Conservative Party now it has shifted so far to the left? How about calling it the Liberal Party?

What we need is a party to occupy the vacant ground of the right. Now, there’s a thought...

28 March 2011 at 10:28  
Anonymous graham wood said...

Let the dead bury the dead"

Further comment superfluous.

28 March 2011 at 10:33  
Anonymous MrJ said...

The party seems to be for dishing those promoting policies such as Mr Huhne's (and others) under the name of any political party (too many of them are already in Parliament and trying to get in). If Dilettante's proposal would effect this end, so be it. But more likely the "story is all froth and bubble" (Cranmer).

28 March 2011 at 10:41  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Your Grace.
The Lib Dems have to face facts. their parrot is dead, a polygon,
snuffed it, it is deceased. It hangs on its perch stiff with rigor mortis & held their with Super Glue.
We the public know a dead parrot when we see one, pity the poor people who bought it at the last election. But pity more those who think it still has a spark of life left in it.
The stench of decomposing parrot started after the formation of the coalition, when manifesto promises were broken to the students who in all innocence helped them to stay in the race. But the parrot sold out for a mess of pottage, but there was poison in the pot & a chance to share power was eagerly grasped at the sacrifice of its integrity.
It is no more, its too poisonous to be eaten twice, even if it's dressed up with new feathers & a new name. The only initials that now fit are R.I.P Rapidly Interred Parrot?. Epitaph: Caveat Emptor.

28 March 2011 at 11:29  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

Your Grace says, "These Social Democrats profess a direct lineage to the Jenkins-Owen-Rogers-Williams SDP of the 1980s, though it is not clear why they did not find common ground with Tony Blair's New Labour, as the SDP founders and many supporters did."

Probably because they realised Blair was a chancer and political spiv and New Labour was nothing more than a meddlers' charter!

Blair's social conscience spun around ambivalence on fox hunting, homosexuality, human rights......the list goes on.

If Nick Clegg wants to rebrand the LibDems let him say his party stands for liberalism and democracy. Currently, quite a few LibDems don't understand either!

28 March 2011 at 11:35  
Anonymous Voyager said...

and the ‘decontamination’ of the Tory brand continues apace.

You do surprise me Your Grace. I was of the opinion that the Tory Brand was becoming highly toxic under Cameron-Osborne and heading for putrefaction as this disastrous economic policy of Tax INcreases to fund INcreased Public Spending impoverishes us all

28 March 2011 at 11:50  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Would it not be better if they ceased with the proverbial crap, and all just became one party. They could call themselves THE PARTY, and we would at least know where we all stand.

Which is to be perfectly honest, is deeply within an establishment run fascist/scientific dictatorship, largely on The Huxley model, with not a chance in hell of ever getting out of it.

What are puppet masters puppets call their own teams, is clearly of little consequence. I would personally argue that it is ultimately of no consequence whatsoever.

The powers that be do not intend to take what remains of our freedoms away from us, by force of arms. They intend to create a situation where the people positively beg to have them all taken away from them.

Communism etc, did not die, when the wall came down, far from it; Communism/Fascism/Totalitarianism/Utopian Socialism/Nazism/Scientific dictatorship, call it what you will, was finally set free to spread its viral cancer all over this entire God damned planet.

Perhaps we should all change our names to same thing? Winston Smith, would be the obvious candidate, for at least we would then know where we all stand?

28 March 2011 at 12:24  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Thanks for the outstanding post, Your Grace.

Anyway: I thought Social Democrats were German?

I thought the lib. equ. frat. thing was froggish?

I thought Clegg and Huhne were supposed to be representing the Engli... Oh, of course they aren't. After all, they're not even British.

So we have it: Their neu-fangling commiedom has corrupted their congenitally defective eurosight.

They're as old and sick as alchemists. And, as Preacher said -their parrot already died :) ... which means something's poisonous, round the Rubber Stamp House.

28 March 2011 at 12:54  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Rampant Hypocrisy Party describes them fairly well.

28 March 2011 at 13:05  
Blogger Dave said...

The LibDems are fans of AV, so they can't call themslves democratic

What about the LAV party?

Works for me

28 March 2011 at 13:52  
Blogger Richard Brown said...

How about 'Christian Democrat' - another tried and tested Euro brand. Ah, I forgot - it has religious connotations which Clegg the atheist clearly doesn't want in his party. Time was, his party could have enrolled the entire Church of England episcopate - not any more.

28 March 2011 at 13:54  
Blogger Gawain Towler said...

Pendent Corner
MSP not MEP...

I will get my coat

28 March 2011 at 16:13  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Gawain Towler,

Corrected, thanks. Slip of charred stump.

28 March 2011 at 16:21  
Anonymous len said...

What`s in as name?

After the savagery of the cuts I would suggest that any name the Liberals call themselves would be sweeter than the names the Public are going to call them!
I don`t think the Tories are going to fare much better ,(unless you are a banker of course.)

28 March 2011 at 18:29  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Rampant Hypocrisy Party describes them fairly well.

28 March 2011 13:05

I think The RHP perfectly describes them all. I still believe a uniting of all of our political parties under the name of THE PARTY, would at least be honest, and so a small step in the right direction.

As conservatives our problem is not the other lot of wasters, crooks, liars, our problem is the party that bares the name Conservative so shamefully.

We should ask ourselves, where was the Conservative opposition when Brown was so joyfully selling us all down the river to the Central Banksters?

Fiddling while Rome was having the fires of hell lit from beneath, does not half describe The Conservative Parties 13 year term in supposed opposition.

Now Cameron's bunch of establishment cronies wants to put our buts in the breach, after Brown so systematically sailed the vessel of state straight down the side of a giant iceberg. The best we can expect from this, is the ship sinking just a little bit more slowly, and very much more painfully.

We should refuse to have anything to do with a problem not at all of our making. ( Of course this takes guts, so very obviously will not happen.)

A tax strike is the only language the establishment understands, as well as being scared half to death of.

Street protests in aid of even more of this insanity, is music to the establishments ears, especially when they can so easily engineer a fair amount of pointless vandalism and violence into the mix.

A tax strike is perfectly legal, and there is no way the establishment can institute any kind of mindlessly destructive violence to help sideline the issue.

Simply don't bother making any real profit, if you simply cannot help yourself, then don't complain. Do not take the promotion whatever you are offered, indeed go part-time if possible. Make do and mend, or make it yourself.

Stop spending money of anything you do not absolutely need, especially anything that attracts VAT.

Indeed stop using the devils worthless promissory notes, known as created from thin air money, altogether. Better still, also stop borrowing any.

Start bartering your goods and services. You know, good old fashioned, you scratch my back, and I will scratch yours, type of thing.

If your goods or services are not worth anything, then hard luck, perhaps it would be better that you got a job working for the government in the first place. So also, stop complaining, and thank your lucky stars you made it thus far.

You will soon see the banksters crap their pants, and so sooner then you could imagine in your wildest nightmares, they will undoubtedly come down on us all like a mountain of bricks falling from Planet Mars.

Then we will finally see the true colour of the horses our establishment have long since been ridding.

Which are, White, Red, Black, and Pale/Yellow, NOT EVER BLUE; just incase you were still in any doubt.

28 March 2011 at 18:54  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

I think R.I.P.P, would do (Rubbish in Parliament Party)

28 March 2011 at 19:35  
Anonymous berserker-nkl said...

Was the first whig a devil? (Samuel Johnson)

So the Whiggery of England supported those foreigners from Hanover.

An useless, unimaginative bunch of loonies they were.

The next election will be a fully fledged WC. (Whigs Catastrophe) or to continue the lavatorial drift: LOO (Liberals old and out )and I for one will rejoice as I am sick of a party with only fifty one seats deciding any policy.

Will they keep their Europhile stance when Europe starts collapsing? As the British populace gets increasingly fed up with handing out money to Ireland and Portugal All the hard won fiscal tightening will be given away. So all you whining professionals, with your long holidays, early retirement, etc prepare!

28 March 2011 at 19:57  
Anonymous Voyager said...

'Christian Democrat'

Hardly Richard Brown, Christian Democrat is usually a Catholic Party as opposed to Social Democrats which are usually Jewish, at least that is the German model with the richest party, the Social Democrats being founded by Bebel and the Christian Democrats founded by Adenauer to replace the Zentrum Party.

Britain has very different traditions with both major parties having a strong Jewish component even as the Anglican or Methodist influences have declined and Marxism has become the core creed across all political parties

28 March 2011 at 20:47  
Anonymous bluedog said...

'Cultural Marxists' and be done with it.

28 March 2011 at 20:48  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

the ‘decontamination’ of the Tory brand continues apace

Indeed so. The toxic opinions of Churchill on immigration—‘Keep England White’—have given way to Cameron’s ‘I’m in favour of immigration, we’ve benefited from immigration’. Similarly, Churchill’s uncool description of Islam—‘No stronger retrograde force exists in the world’—has been rejected for Cameron’s pæan of praise.
On Europe, Churchill’s support for the European Movement evaporated around 1949 or 1950¹, while Cameron says, ‘I do not believe in an in-out referendum for many reasons. I think we are better off in the European Union’.

Funnily enough, I’ll take the contaminated brand—independence, sovereignty, accountable government, parliamentary democracy, social cohesion, Christianity—anytime.

¹ The Hidden Hand: Britain, America and Cold War Secret Intelligence by Richard J Aldrich

28 March 2011 at 22:11  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Today has been a very busy day in parliament , with quite a lot of happenings to secure. The odd sight of seeing labour rush to the airwaves to condem the alledged 100 or so malevolents who disrupted (by melting into and attacking from the body of the protest) resulted in most left appearences wearing glasses ,I dont know if one can hide behind a nerd but it seemed a good attempt.
Mr Cameron and mr Pickles manageing to find some light heart in a heavygoing day "I am beginning to wonder if mrs Bone isnt insatiable" and "perhaps when the hon gentleman looked in the shaving mirror this morning , that joke seemed far better than it actually was" .

The rebranding caught my eye as it seemed to be in response to there showing in Austrailia new south wales in which a very safe labour seat was changed . lord ashdown was on about aid , so perhaps there are looking for the nice party , wind to sail by after knuckle down pay the debt off budget and the vandalistic left .

None the less if we are about to see a jettisoning of the booster rocket of the coalition , to bodly go where the libdems have been before , it is worth mentioning the force of the gravity of the situation in that goverment spending is effectivley ended on anything but the essentials , so making some of the previous lib dem noises about more benefits could rapidly get some questions .

from a political angle it may just be a need for them to exit buddy busted flush labour and try and gain public sector support , quite wether the logic follows on to public sector stratespheric salaries , how pensions will be funded , or indeed what promised liabilities the tax payer will be in for , is where they may come to a crash.
The liberal nationalists would be an interesting party , but being as one has about as much chance of finding a lib dem that opposes the europe union (or even its cost) as you have of Labour admitting ecnomic mismangement , it seems that social politics is what they may like .
perhaps it is only a mild fever before may 5th , and some work on burying AV (which has given a few jitters) or it could be a sneaky realignment with spectre on an anti cuts platform , to waft in few more soft socialist seats to improve chances further down the line.

perhaps a new parfume is being mixed , iam sure we will know what it is when we first whiff it .

28 March 2011 at 22:37  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Atlas Shrugged @ 18.54 said,

"Then we will finally see the true colour of the horses our establishment have long since been ridding.

Which are, White, Red, Black, and Pale/Yellow, NOT EVER BLUE; just incase you were still in any doubt."

This communicant has long been of the opinion that your own preferred flag is in the colours of red, white and black.

28 March 2011 at 23:05  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Clegg should look at Germany where the FDP in the Coalition is in meltdown and likely to be swept from the Bundestag. The results in Baden-Wuerttemberg are devastating for Merkel and a warning to Cameron what happenms when conservative voters desert

29 March 2011 at 04:05  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Osborne has just burned the patriotic red, white and blue torch.

‘The worst measure to come out of the Budget was the confirmation that the UK will soon have a carbon price floor. Britain will then become the first nation with this artificial cost, which will cripple our vital energy intensive industries. Not only is the EU paying more in terms of carbon emissions than the rest of the world, but Britain is now paying more than the EU and will become the most expensive place to use energy in the world.

‘This is nothing short of disastrous. Should vital contributors to the economy like the £60bn chemical industry collapse, 600,000 jobs, 15% of exports and £17.1bn GVA per annum will be lost. The price floor makes this ruin a case of when not if’.

From the think-tank Civitas

29 March 2011 at 07:32  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Atlas shrugged. I think it would be quicker to rise up and slaughter the buggers and have done with it. For your way to work it would need a large portion of the working population. Human nature being what it is it wouldn't happen. An interesting theory though.

29 March 2011 at 07:45  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Gnostic :

Ah, slaughter! I love the smell of burning and the keening of women!

29 March 2011 at 15:04  
Blogger killemallletgodsortemout said...

"A precedent embalms a principle".
Benjamin Disraeli.

The precedent was the breaking of pledges contained in their manifesto. They are dead. Let the embalmer do what needs to be done to preserve them, and their false principles. May they then be interred in a political wilderness.

Requiescant In Pace - ish.

29 March 2011 at 16:31  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr D Singh @ 0732, your concerns are well placed.

Carbon pricing, taxing and trading is the latest utter folly to emerge from the political elite, those otherwise unemployable people who seek to be our leaders. The carbon scam is of course an exercise in Big Government, providing as it does unlimited possibilities for fiscal complexity with opt-ins, opt-outs, grandfathering, grants, exemptions, offsets and refunds for the disadvantaged (in marginal constituencies, of course).

No doubt we will read at some point that enterprising migrant families with corrupt attitudes have built mosques and madrassars on the basis of carbon-based grants. Baroness Warsi will leap to defend the ummah; one can almost write her press release.

Just when you thought the public service was going to be cut down to size, this hydra-headed monster gains fresh vigour with a new meaning in life. Whole careers will be built through acquiring expertise on carbon pricing and trading.

But who pays?

29 March 2011 at 23:12  
Blogger Dr Evil'll fix it said...

Wise old D Singh sounded the kneel from the watchtower 29 March 2011 07:32 , With Bluedog howling in despair for us all 29 March 2011 23:12

My friends, we will soon envy the energy infrastructure of Iraq or Ghana, I jest not.

Curse those moronic fabians for putting our infrastructure at high risk.. Before anyone moans that 'Maggie' sold us out, can I point out that Labour sold the 'Golden share' in our energy industry, allowing foreign companies to do as they will, and we can do 'nowt about it'. Carbon pricing, taxing and trading = Legalised Fraud between t'government and t'energy industry!

The death kneel of our country and nation..more expense, more chaos. We are about to become the laughing stock of europe.

Electric cars-the saviour of our industry and charge them with what and how exactly?

Even Dr Evil cannot fix 'this un'. How's about that then!

Despairing old Ernst

31 March 2011 at 01:59  

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