Wednesday 13 January 2010

Pleasing and Not

I'm pleased that Nick Clegg wants to equalise gay and heterosexual marriages, and force faith schools to have anti-homophobic bullying policies. There are general, social and public equalitarian stances which religions should not effect in the public sphere beyond their ritualistic practices where they might be restrictive. There are zero-sum situations where the restrictive religions simply have to give way, and schools are in the public sphere. He is right to challenge David Cameron of the Conservatives about his actual stance on these matters. Nick Clegg is also right to stand up for a humanitarian stance regarding immigration and asylum, for ethical behaviour and responsibilities in the difficult area of a population largely growing through the birthrate and the issue of it being a market and a labour force.

Unfortunately he put me off with his earlier reducing of commitments to take away tuition fees for Higher Education students, for free care for the elderly and for 20 hours nursery provision a week. He wants to appear to be macho on the economy along with Vince. I think he is missing a sea change in attitudes that the Liberal Democrats had actually foreseen. There is the money for these key resources if we realise that a less greedy and more socially aware country is going to alter its priorities. We have the recession, and we need to think again about basics before we have personal greed. The principles of universal education and lifelong care when needed are progressive and need people do need persuading, but we come down to actualities of eating well, keeping warm, having accommodation and living a decent life. These are foundations for a libertarian society - for social liberalism. If we can generate an economy that supplies these needs, then our economy adds value indeed. It's so much better than waiting for another boom curve of relatively pointless 'hanging out each others' washing' type of economy that we have had and then financed by debt.

I'm quite a robust Liberal Democrat supporter, though local constituency proportions (a Labour/ Conservative marginal) have led me to vote Labour. When Nick Clegg stood up and made his 'can't afford these' speech I just wondered what was the point of voting for them, given that the three political parties are competing on managerial claims, and otherwise differ like Tweedledee, Tweedledum and Tweedlediddle.

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