'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Friday, 25 February 2011

You can put me in a box when I'm dead. Until then will you just leave it.

You Gov published a poll the other week about where the public see the political parties on the left right spectrum. They had us bang slap in the middle. Which (interestingly) You Gov interpreted as being in the worst possible place, as left leaning voters put us right of centre, and vice versa, so we end up in a kind of averaged out no man's land.

(As an aside I'm not sure if they are right about this. I wonder if in fact people have for some time seen us as left leaning, we go into coalition with the Tories so they presume we've 'gone' right, and what really happens is no one has a clue where we sit so they stick us in the middle. But that isn't what this post is about so I digress...)

Anyway, we tend to indulge ourselves with plenty of introspective navel gazing about where we sit on the left right spectrum. The average comments feed on Lib Dem Voice is always descending into a 'Progressives vs. Orange bookers' fist fight, and jolly good fun it tends to be as well.

But actually, we do ourselves a disservice. Because we play into the hands of the two (currently) bigger parties, by playing on their own territory and the rules by which they judge themselves. Our instincts should be to judge an issue, not by whether something is from the left or right, but whether it promotes the principles of liberty, of equality and community. That doesn't mean turning our face away from an idea because it comes from left or right, conservative or socialist. We just need to decide if it fits with our own values.

I'll be judged against my own criteria and values, thank you very much. Not the one the other political parties think we should be judged on. Let yourself be judged by others standards and measurements...and you end up out of government for a gazillion years.

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