Friday, 2 November 2007

Liberal Democrat Leadership Race. A Major Choice. Clegg is the Man

I've emerged from a long sloth with regard to blogging, stimulated by the Liberal Democrat leadership race, and a few other things. A burst of blogging coming after a long down period. Trying to keep blogs brief, as that is the general tendency.

The point I have to make for now is that the Liberal Democrat leadership race is not a non-choice between two identikit candidates. The latter claim is upheld by many journalists handsomely paid for writing misleading generalisations. On the basis of my unpaid labour here is the real assessment.

Huhne is running for the party left vote, though evolution in the Lib Dems may mean more tha tis running for the support of the more introverted members.

Clegg is running for the party right vote, but with a lot of support from the party left. Most obviously Steven Webb who looked like the new leading figure on the party left, taking over from Simon Hughes, has given his support to Clegg instead of running himself.

What has happened is that a large part of the party left has decided that market mechanisms are necessary in public services and welfare provision to provide a good service and to avoid constant increases in the tax burden. Arguments they would recently have rejected as Thatcherite or beyond Thatcherite are being eagerly embraced because quite rightly it has become widely understood that competition stimulates efficiency and better outcomes. It is being widely understood that the public sector does not exist to soak up unemployment through inefficient working practices, which is wha tis has become in practice.

Chris Huhne is rejecting that argument. This is the key difference of substance. An opportunistic negative campaigning style has also begun to turn off people previously sympathetic to him.

Clegg is the man. He is the man because he understands how to bring together market mechanisms and social welfare for the poorest. He is taking a strong stand on all issues of the individuals' importance in relation to the state. He is reviving 'Classical Liberalism' in the proper manner, tha tis without the nonsensical misinterpretation of the tradition by hard-libertarians and social-national conservatives who favour a limited state in economic matters.

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