I posted a distillation of the core message from this blog (since 2005) and my more-serious Local Democracy site (more recent) yesterday on Slugger O'Toole. It was cross-posted on Liberal Conspiracy shortly afterwards where it attracted a few 'typical elitist fear of us pwoles' type comments from the bloggertarian trolls that lurk there. It's the bizarre defence of the most dysfunctional and ineffective way of getting more participation in popular decisionmaking that stands out when right-wing libertarians advocate these crude plebiscites. If you really want more participation, where is the advocacy of participatory budgeting? Citizens Juries? Co-design and co-creation?
Nowhere, because it doesn't land you in the gated communities of Switzerland or California.
How does this connect with the Lib-Dems, I hear you ask?
My disappointment with the Lib-Dems isn't quite the same as most of stuff I've read elsewhere. Sure, they've proved what we always suspected: that they fold very easily under questioning.
They're performing the traditional mudguard role of junior coalition partners and they don't have the ideological steel needed to resist what should be a fairly straightforward temptation: to not give a minority government the mandate to carry out the most extreme cure to the mess that wanking bankers have left us with.
I suppose it's quite easy to get concepts like socially liberal and economically liberal mixed up, isn't it?
That last para could run and run. But none of it is a huge surprise really, is it?
To my mind, the biggest disappointment is in their commitment to liberal democracy. Like a lot of Lib-Labbers, I always thought that their advocacy of PR went hand-in-hand with a wider pro-democracy approach to politics. Sure - they're not socialists, they don't quite grasp how this whole libertarian bandwagon was primarily put on the rails to help the Tories to play them like a cheap fiddle.
But at least they were in favour of electoral reform. It's a rationalist republican principle that makes them the objective allies of democratic socialists everywhere. The Lib-Dems believe, as
Or so I thought.
But in selling almost everything for a referendum on AV - AV, ffs - while happily nodding through the coalition's greatest crimes against good democratic thinking - we can see that they don't really have that much of a grasp of what we all believed to be a stand-out cornerstone issue for them.
The Lib-Dems don't understand liberal democracy. They're not it's defenders or it's advocates. They will leave it in a significantly worse state than they found it. And like the bloggertarian trolls on the Liberal Conspiracy comments pages, they really can't grasp that democratic reform has any other purpose than being part of a game designed to get more of your own class-interests onto the statute book.
For years, I dismissed the view that the Lib-Dems only believed in PR because it would get them a few more seats. It turns that I was mistaken in doing so.
I'm genuinely disappointed.