Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Can Lib Dems Learn Anything from Syriza's Win?

In 2010, before the election, Nick Clegg warned of 'Greek-style' strife on the streets of Britain if any Government pushed through policies that people did not vote for. Remember? Let's face it, nobody voted for 'coalition' policies in the end did they? But so it came to pass that UK austerity measures were passed and, suddenly, to question these was to be childish and unreasonable. Austerity politics was the grown up way of doing politics. TINA and all that. Now's there's another name in the political circles and it's Syriza.

I read this article today in Libdemvoice and pondered upon how far Lib Dems have come since 2010. With all respect to Joe Otten, the PPC for Sheffield Central, I really hope his attitude does not sum up the next 100 days of Lib Dem electioneering because it misses a huge point about the hardships that people have suffered under austerity cuts. I think this is where Syriza is relevant. Syriza was voted by people who used words like 'hopeful',  'a society that feels a little bit fairer' and 'give us the sense that they care' and 'we feel unprotected right now'. Syriza recognised that there was a void of humanity in politics and dares to challenge the forces that foisted the so called grown up politics of cuts.

This is where I think Lib Dems can learn from them. As the coalition draws to an end it is crucial to recognise that no matter how many times we tell people that Lib Dems prevented the Tories from veering too far to the right many won't believe it because many have suffered as a result of the Neoliberal hegemony that our party bought into in coalition. Sometimes I hear a Lib Dem speak and I wonder why he/she didn't join the Tory party. Talking about being King Makers again just makes Lib Dems sound like a party that will go into coalition with anyone for the sake of power. What happened to our liberal values? I think Nick Clegg is great but why is the party being positioned just as emergency air bags to stop the Tory party or Labour party crashing? I don't get it.

Syriza is full of risk-takers who have tapped into people's feelings. Podemos could be the next victor in Spain. Politics has just moved onto a whole new level and Lib Dems cannot be left behind. I am trying to say that we need to offer real hope to young people, sick people, disabled people, impoverished people, the unemployed and the lowly paid.

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7 comments

  1. Oh wow. That is quite something, Maelo. We shall have to see how well Syriza do in practice though. There is a balance here - and I felt that Syriza was a bit like the Yes campaign up here, building a movement that claimed to have all the answers. In a complex world, that isn't always realistic.

    But I love the spirit of your post - and you are so right about what politics needs at th moment.

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    1. Hi Caron :) While politics does need hope at the moment i believe that people like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman offer an alternative economic narrative that is being seen as being unrealistic because there is an unhealthy worship of neoliberalism. I think that there are alternatives and Syriza could prove the success of these alternatives. Even if Syriza does not work out it cannot be seen to be like a sole test of alternative options. Hope you are well x

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  2. Hey, that was a really articulate post but I'm afraid I have to disagree with you. Economic liberalism has as much claim to the label of liberalism as any other, so shrugging it off as neoliberal hegemony and asserting that some Lib Dems belong in the Conservative party really doesn't cut it. I'm a young person, an activist, and a member of Liberal Reform's board, and this attitude towards people within the party who think like me is quite distressing.

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    1. Hey Charlie, Thanks for the comment :). The comment was not meant to alienate Lib Dems of other beliefs but rather to place economics within a context of humanity. I didn't mean to offend you.
      Maelo

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    2. Thanks for the reply, Maelo. Humanity is a fairly big part of economics - it's about how people interact and transactions between people. My concern is that a vocal minority in the party treat economic liberals with disdain simply because it doesn't conform to the social liberal identity they hold. I've been told by a number of people that I'm "in the wrong party", and unfortunately that's not likely to stop happening. Still, I'm also not likely to give in!

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