Thursday 28 May 2015

Come and talk about Liberal/Green co-operation

I had a small wobble in the middle of the general election.  It happened when I came home and found the Green Party's local election address gracing my doormat.  I glanced at it, looked more closely and for a moment I felt myself lost.  I agreed with it.

I'm not saying I agreed with everything.  But it was well-written and well-designed.  It wasn't ruined by any of the offensive stuff that politicians like to say about their rivals in print.  It was positive, far-sighted and ... well, what was I doing?

I came back to the leaflet a few hours later and looked at it afresh. Looked at again, I realised that what originally attracted me was their firm and sensible stance against nuclear energy (the same stance that originally attracted me to the Liberals).

On closer examination, I thought their public services policy was misleading - by putting such emphasis on public versus private, they missed the point.  If you want diverse services, you need a diversity of providers - the real enemy here is big providers using the assembly line model of care, and spreading costs around the system.

But most of all, I found I was sceptical about their strapline - For the Common Good.

Of course, you don't want politicians who are somehow against the common good, and arguably - for defunct economic reasons - that is what we now have.  But equally, you don't want politicians who are so committed to the common good that they subsume the fate of individuals to it.

Sorry, they would say, I understand what you need - but the common good demands that you should be locked up. Individuals don't matter. Wha matters is the Common Good, capitalised.

I am a Liberal, and will remain one, because I don't believe the common good is the highest ideal, important as it is.  Some things come first.

The Greens don't see things that way. That's fine. But I also don't believe this should cast them into outer darkness.  Quite the reverse, Liberals and Greens still have a great deal in common and the common good requires that they work together, where they can, to build the kind of green prosperity we need.

We will disagree, both about the mistakes of the past on both sides, and over issues of principle.  But the planet won't wait around for the UK to sort its dysfunctional voting system out.  In the meantime, there are things to do which only Lib Dems and Greens can achieve if they work with each other - starting with the business of splitting up RBS to provide the nation with an effective banking infrastructure.

This may not require us to run the government to achieve, but I don't want to say how here in case someone tries to stop us.  A small precaution.

We can't co-operate formally.  That won't work. We can't probably stand down in each other's favour. But we can move towards a little more mutual trust, based on a form understanding of where we differ as well as where we agree.

It so happens that, tomorrow, I will be discussing the challenges of local economics with Green MP Caroline Lucas at the Hay Festival (Friday, 11.30am).  It's called 'Stormy with a sunny local banking outlook' (this is a discussion run by my New Weather Institute).  Come along and help talk about it - because there is a great deal to discuss.

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Unknown said...

Interesting. But not sure practically how co-operation would work?

Anonymous said...

Surely an informal electoral agreement would have to be considered in some seats at least but possibly not just yet as we need time to present our policies after proper discussion.

Lidl_Janus said...

"Of course, you don't want politicians who are somehow against the common good, and arguably - for defunct economic reasons - that is what we now have."

Indeed, but Tories will not always die quietly.