Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Liberal Democrat members beg to get fooled again

In recent days, with Liberal Democrats have apparently decided that it was politic to come out with some pronouncements to sate the social democrats within their ranks.

First, Nick Clegg told party members that they must "hold our nerve." The Lib Dems had not "lost our soul" by entering into coalition with the Conservatives. They "haven't changed our liberal values" and "will have changed British politics for good" by the end of it.

He then had a pop at the last Tory administration, promising to "not repeat the mistakes of the 1980s, in which whole communities were hollowed out." Even though the cuts agenda remained the "only choice."

Then he repeated Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander's promise to target rich tax-avoiders in an effort to reduce the deficit. Playing it straight down the middle, he said "We all agree it's wrong when people help themselves to benefits they shouldn't get. But when the richest people in the country dodge their tax bill that is just as bad."

It was hardly a revolutionary line. Especially with a promise to "be tough on welfare cheats" preceding that to "be tough on tax cheats too." But he had a go at the rich, so he's not as bad as the Tories. Right?

Hot on the heels of that, we have Business Secretary Vince Cable taking it to the banks
Vince Cable has told the BBC that ministers are considering "potentially quite tough sanctions" against banks which give out large bonuses.

The business secretary said bankers should not walk away with "outrageously large sums" while others suffered due to a crisis caused by banking.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg also said the government would not "stand idly by" if "offensive" bonuses were handed out.

A bank levy set to raise £8bn over four years is due to start in January. 

But Mr Cable and his party leader both suggested on Tuesday that the government could go further if banks paid out unreasonably high bonuses.

The business secretary was speaking during the Liberal Democrats' conference in Liverpool, at a fringe event organised by BBC Radio 4's World at One.

He said that, at the modest end of the scale, the government was looking at how to implement the Walker report into the corporate governance of UK banks, and force banks to disclose more information about bonus payments.

Bumper bonuses
"At the other end of the scale, there are potentially quite tough sanctions in terms of tax policy," he said, suggesting the government could look at a tax targeting high profits or a financial transactions tax.
All of which, clearly, is targeted at the "left" wing of the Liberal Democrats. The Yellow Tories are offering people a little more yellow in the hope that they'll notice a little less Tory. But we shouldn't be fooled.

Notice, in Cable's speech, how the fact that "others suffered due to a crisis caused by banking" isn't singled out as something to be rectified. Indeed, Clegg had already defended attacks on the public sector and working class by insisting that "you cannot build social justice on the sands of debt."

But, by saying that they were going to target those responsible for the crisis (alongside those who weren't, of course) he gives his party some political wiggle room. For those whose politics is confined to the minute differences between three capitalist, ruling class parties, it will be enough. Those who can see beyond that and realise just how narrow the mainstream spectrum is can be safely ignored.

Which is why there really is no point to mainstream politics. Those who pin their hopes on the Lib Dems, or any other party, are barking up the wrong tree. Our votes make no difference, our opinions are not taken into account, and our needs will never be met. It is a game for elites.

As I've noted before, there is an alternative;
Politicians play up a political bitch-fest for the benefit of a few who still believe in electoral politics, and pour scorn on a so-called "apathetic mass." But not caring about party politics does not mean people don't care at all. They want something different, and know that voting won't get it. Talking to them one to one, too, you soon realise that anarchism - but for the stigma of the name and a lack of exposure to the ideas - makes a lot of sense to people.

There's potential there. They already don't vote. The trick now is to get them to organise.
With the "nice" Liberal Democrats now in government, colluding with the "nasty" Tories, that potential is all but bubbling over. People know politics is bunk - now we need to give them ideas on what to do about it.