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Saturday, 10 September 2011

Waging Peace in Liberator (and Iran - and Julian Critchley)

Thanks to Lib Dem Voice for precis-ing the new issue of Liberator, which apparently includes a piece by Becky Tinsley about a group called Waging Peace, of which I had never previously heard - it sounds excellent. If they ever organised a fringe meeting at Lib Dem Conference, I'd be there, especially if it was on Sudan (by which I mean "about Sudan" as in the country, not "on Sunday" with a typing error). 

Talking of fringe meetings, and for the benefit of this blog's reader, Arthur, in Cheltenham - Arthur may recall that last year I complained about a lack of fringe meetings about Iran. This year, there is more than one meeting about Israel/Palestine (one of which I am involved in organising, so I can hardly complain about that), but a search for "Iran" again produces not a single reference - no fringe meetings discussing Iran, no fringe meetings discussing nuclear proliferation. I know that the Lib Dem Ministers in this Coalition Government very definitely get the point about the challenges posed by Iran; Nick Clegg talked strongly about this in at least one of his speeches over the past year or so (about eleven minutes and fifteen seconds in). I am more than happy with the Government's approach to Iran. Does the absence of a fringe meeting on Iran (or on nuclear proliferation) reflect a lack of insight on the part of the grassroots activists who organise such meetings? I hope not. I guess I'll have to organise such a meeting myself next year.

Just listening to The Week in Westminster on BBC Radio 4. It really is the only show in town. If it was put in front of million of listeners who currently never hear it, I'm sure they'd find it interesting. Ah well. Anyway, the Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George just told the programme that the Lib Dems don't have a Tea Party wing, and implied that Mark Littlewood's support for Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government policy means that, if we did have such a wing, Mark would be on it. I'll get the kettle on and warm the pot. 

The programme also said that Mr George has been "inundated" with messages of support since voting against whatever it is that he voted against to do with NHS reform the other day. Well, of course he has. Among the Liberal Democrats' activists, those who oppose the party leadership always make the most noise. The heroic Julian Critchley wrote that he considered legalised abortion to be "a regrettable necessity", a view that he believed was shared by a majority of his constituents, but that they (that majority) didn't march on Westminster. Unlike people who are strongly pro-choice or strongly anti-choice, that majority don't lobby their MPs in pursuit of their moderate belief that regulated, legalised abortion is the least worst option (which it surely is, hence my being pro-choice myself). 

Similarly, I'm sure that most Liberal Democrat party members regard compromising with the Conservatives on the NHS as "a necessity" and are pleased that our ministers are getting on with it for the good of the country at a time when the misery caused by Labour's economic meltdown is still a fact of life for millions of people. But they (including the many very sensible 'armchair members' who make the invaluable contribution of paying a subscription, while choosing not to engage in very much Lib Dem activity) don't all send emails to the office of Andrew George MP applauding his votes against the Government. There's a few of us like me who are very pro-Coalition, a few of us who are very anti and a much larger group in the middle who are neither very pro nor very anti, but have an admirable sense of proportion about the whole affair. More power to them. 

I'm pleased that I managed to get to the end of this piece without using the tired phrase "silent majority". Or at least, I would have been thus pleased if I hadn't just used it.

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