Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Can Lib Dem Bloggers Change Lib Dem Policy?

How refreshing it was to see Iain Dale's top 75 Lib Dem blogs list.

Of special interest for this particular freedom-lover were the placings of Charlotte Gore (1st), Costigan Quist (3rd) and Liberal Vision (6th). Apart, of course, from being extremely well-written, all three exhibit a seemingly long-forgotten tendency amongst the Lib Dems, that being some kind of 'liberal' thinking.

The parliamentary party, at least, regulary exhibit signs of an odd tangential form of Tourettes, whereby almost no issue can be tackled without the word BAN spewing forth from their professionally-political orifices.

The latest example was Jo Swinson's ludicrous call for a ban on airbrushing. You could hardly have missed it. Needless to say, Jo invoked the chiiildren to push her bizarre and naïve uni sociology thesis justification for such poppycock.

Adverts which feature airbrushed models should not be shown to children as they can harm girls' body image, the Liberal Democrats have said.

Jo Swinson MP is calling for retouched pictures to be banned in adverts targeting children and teenagers under 16.

That barely scratches the surface of the ban mentality which afflicts the Lib Dems though. Just from memory, the Lib Dems were not only wildly enthusiastic about a comprehensive smoking ban, they were in a proper hurry about it too. Both in Scotland, and in England where only one of their MPs considered personal choice an issue (clue: he's got a darn site better looking bird than you).

Not content with throwing 22% of the population out into the cold, they then called for a ban on any comfort being afforded to the pariahs they had created.

Fiona Hall, a Liberal Democrat MEP, has led the calls for the ban, which is expected to be endorsed by the parliament in Brussels.

"Patio heaters are scandalous because they are burning fossil fuels in the open sky, so producing vast quantities of CO2 with very little heat benefit," she said.

But the proposal has been attacked by publicans, who say bars and pubs need the heaters for customers driven outside by smoking bans.

Cause and effect. Lib Dems cause. Then try to ban the effect. Has anyone at Cowley Street ever placed 'consequences' in the same sentence as 'unintended' and formed a more rounded view of life?

The thing is, they just like banning or restricting things. Just a quick Google search brings up too many to list comprehensively. But for a taster ...

The hunting ban isn't harsh enough.

Stroud Labour MP David Drew has supported it, along with Bristol West Lib Dem Stephen Williams, who was not an MP when the Hunting Act was passed, but says he would have voted for it.

Eager, ain't he?

Smaller wine glasses.

The MP for Leeds North West argues that larger glasses are making customers "less aware of how many units of alcohol they are drinking".

A ban on petrol.

The Lib Dems have backed a radical series of proposals to tackle climate change - including a ban on petrol powered cars by 2040.

An interesting one here. Shops legally selling hydroponics and other paraphernalia. The Lib Dem MP even spent weeks outside the store with placards, despite the owner of the shop bending over backwards to co-operate.

But store owner Anthony Bennett said he didn't believe there was a problem.

"I want everyone to realise I'm not looking to cause any trouble, I just need to run my business, which I might add sells legal products," he said.

"Still, I'd be happy to cover the full window - but I don't think it's necessary because you'd have to go on your hands and knees and crawl on floor to see what's inside," he said.

Mr Bennet added he was losing £100 in trading each day, to protect the children.

"I was opening at 9am, but now I don't open until 11am and I also close my doors between 3-3.30pm, so the children can't see inside the shop when they walk by," he said.

It really is endless. Minimum alcohol pricing? Lib Dems love it. Phone masts? Yep, they want rid of them. And Nick Clegg wants a complete ban on TV adverts. Guess who to? Bingo! The chiiildren.

Britain should consider a ban on adverts during television programmes for young children, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said.

They're supposed to run without advertising income, you see. Not saying he hasn't thought that one through, by the way.

In short, show the Lib Dems a bandwagon and they will not only jump on it, they will wrestle the reins and try to drive the bloody thing themselves.

Yet all this illiberal tripe is showing no positive effect on the Lib Dem poll ratings, nor does it transfer into successful electoral results. They have starkly failed to impress even with Labour in an almighty tailspin.

The truly 'liberal' amongst their ranks, though, seem to be enjoying dramatic approval, as the Total Politics poll shows.

There is a market for a real liberal leaning party, yet the only one with liberal in their name are blind to the potential support such policies could engender. As a party in opposition to an authoritarian Labour, they absurdly seem intent on attacking the incumbents on an intensely more proscriptive ticket.

All power to the aforementioned trio for their eminently sensible posts. Their success is fully merited. How much longer their success can be ignored by the blinkered party hierarchy will be interesting to watch.


timbone said...

It is bad enough that both the major politcal parties and the jester party have become obsessed with banning things. What is worse is that there seems to be a growing number of constituents who like them as well.

Anonymous said...

Hmm I can't say you're being unfair - bansturbation is rife. Mostly, I presume, because it's an easy political thing to campaign on.. 'this is bad! let's stop this!'

Problem is as long as Lib Dem MPs think that's what their electorate is looking for, and what'll save their seats, they're going to keep doing it.

I hate that winning seats and governing properly are two entirely different things.

subrosa said...

Oh Dick, I have to challenge you on your remarks re Jo Swinton.

Let's get it right first of all. She didn't call for a ban on airbrushing, she called for photographs to be discreetly marked 'airbrushed'. Big difference.

I support her in this. Throughout my career I've seen girls and boys harmed by magazine photos which project the 'perfect' body. The food disorders which can result are evident but the mental harm done is not.

Now don't tell me you weren't impressed by photos of Charles Atlas when you were a youth. The thing is these photos weren't touched-up to the degree they are today. In my youth I too was impressed by photos of glamorous film stars but I was too busy doing other things to have time to become obsessed.

If you've ever seen the results of teenage food disorders, you too would support Jo Swinton's attempt to ensure magazines tell their readers they're being lied to.

Phew! Feel better now. :)

Dick Puddlecote said...

Subrosa: We must stop bickering like this or tongues will wag. ;-)

"tell me you weren't impressed by photos of Charles Atlas when you were a youth"

The only time I ever heard of him as a youngster was in Joe Bazooka gum inserts where his regimes were advertised, but point taken about the minutiae of Jo Swinson's proposals.

I can't entirely agree with you on the issue, though. I see pictures of Emma Bunton and I almost always get the urge to touch her up.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Charlotte: Considering today's revelations, I shall respectfully write this on bended knee. ;-)

"I hate that winning seats and governing properly are two entirely different things"

If the winning seats, or indeed poll ratings, corresponded with Lib Dem authoritarianism, I could understand it, but as far as I can see, there isn't much of a correlation.

Let's hope that your brand of Lib Dem-ism prevails, eh?

Hearty Congratulations BTW.

Frank Davis said...

This post gives the reasons why I stopped voting Lib Dem, after 25 years of scrawling my X beside them on the ballot paper.

What it doesn't explain is why I'll never vote for them again.

Frank Davis said...

"tell me you weren't impressed by photos of Charles Atlas when you were a youth"

Oh God! How I hated Charles Atlas!

I lived in Brazil, and so could buy DC and Marvel comics that were unobtainable in the UK. And they'd carry Charles Atlas ads. The skinny kid who got sand kicked in his face on the beach, and went away and pumped iron until he became that monster.

And I was that skinny kid. And I sat on beaches. And kept waiting for someone to kick sand in my face. They never did. But I always worried they might.

No, I couldn't stand Charles Atlas.

Junican said...

I did not know that Lib Dem have any policies. I thought that Lib Dem simply had GOOD IDEAS which were mostly impractical and not what people want.

In fact, I am not at all sure that Labour or Tory have any actual policies at all. In fact, judging from their recent party confereneces, they have only some vague idea of "forward, together, holding hands, into the future, changing, better, bla, bla".

For example, as regards the smoking ban, did any one Liberal MP personally research the statistics before deciding to support the ban? NO! Not a one.

Betty said...

Hi Dick,

I think you're being very unfair to Jo Swinson on the airbrushing issue. She is not actually proposing legislation at all, but rather a change to existing ASA codes of conduct, agreed in consultation with the advertising industry. Also, this is no "naïve uni sociology thesis" - the Real Women policy paper was drawn up over several months by the women's policy working group, which consulted with various experts in the field, and I think you'll find that there's plenty of scientific evidence out there to suggest that there is a cause and effect relationship between media images and children's self esteem. Maybe best if you did some research on it before calling it "bizarre"?

Also, you seem to have become confused between women and birds. The feathers are usually the giveaway.

Anonymous said...

Between Clegg, Opik, Kennedy, Hughes and Oaten, I've become absolutely convinced that the Lib Dems are a massive practical joke perpetrated either by Alistair Campbell or Peter Mandelson.

I'd vote Labour before I'd vote for this bunch of inbvertebrate wankers, and that is fucking saying something.



Pogo said...

@Subrosa "In my youth I too was impressed by photos of glamorous film stars but I was too busy doing other things to have time to become obsessed."

Haven't you just sunk your own argument there? You admit that, like todays chiiildren, you were impressed by glamorous (presumably retouched, because they always are) photos of stars, but didn't become "disturbed" because you actually had a life. Therein lies the problem, it's not the adverts it's that many kids nowadays don't seem to have much of a life outside the television - which is not the fault of the advertisers.

Anonymous said...

Good article again Dick. I was speaking to a senior Lib Dem the other day and posed the same question, in that there seems to be a chasm between Lib Dem activists and the elected politicians.

The simple answer was yes.

Dave Atherton

BTS said...

I'm tempted to start growing again just to give that chap some business. Home-grown is the way that it should be..

Dick Puddlecote said...

Betty: Fair do's - but a ban it was reported as, and a ban it would be whether by legislation or other means, as Letters for a Tory mentioned earlier today.

"Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson made an idiot of herself recently when discussing magazine advertising by calling for airbrushing to be banned in adverts aimed at children and flagged in adverts aimed at adults. This sort of top-down, government-led unenforceable nonsense made her, and indeed politics in general, look pretty stupid."

All of which doesn't really detract from the point I was making about the eagerness of the Lib Dems to move instantly into ban mode before looking at other possible solutions to any given problem.

Hardly 'liberal'.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Al Jahon: That really is saying something!

Patio Heaters said...

Really a such very interesting!!!!!!!!!!!
Great post

Antipholus Papps said...

As a child, I was cruelly exposed to the Star Wars trilogy, which gave me unrealistic expectations that I could move objects with my mind and save my father from the forces of evil that had consumed him.