Thursday, February 12, 2015

Internal Democracy or Autocratic Pronouncements?

All of those of us who were elected to FPC last year were elected on the basis of their manifesto. It is not unreasonable therefore for the electorate to expect us to stick to our guns and do what we said we would do. 

I said "The run up to the next election this is a crucial time for the party. It is essential to have members on FPC who are prepared to challenge and to work hard to ensure our manifesto is the best it can be. We need strong and bold commitments, especially those on the front of our manifesto that could turn out to be our red lines. Our key pledges must seek to reduce inequality, protect the planet for our children and resist the continuing attack on our civil liberties and human rights. Our approach to the economy has to demonstrate how we balance the need to reduce the deficit with the responsibility to care for the most vulnerable. That is why I support the calls within the party for a living wage and against unfair welfare cuts. That is why I particularly welcome Nick Clegg’s commitment to parity for mental health care. That is why I am committed to policies that protect our civil liberties and human rights, that invest in green technologies and measures to tackle climate change. That is why I am for a manifesto that has a commitment to our children and young people at its heart." 

It was clear on Monday night that many of us felt the same about the need to include civil liberties on the front cover, and there was a strong call to include housing. A lone voice admittedly, I called for a living wage to be included. But, let's be clear, the die was cast long before we assembled in Committee Room 17 on Monday night. Let's not look at framing a manifesto that is anchored in our values, no we must look to our private polling, to attracting the mythical voters in the centre rather than seeking to build on our core vote and attract back those who were once attracted to a party seen as to the left of Labour. And frankly, to get something out before our pesky internal democracy could interfere. Let's be clear, our internal democracy is the lifeblood of our already wounded party, to ignore it is not only rude and arrogant it is also foolish. 

The battle now is to see what we can achieve on the balance between tax rises and spending cuts, to do what we can to protect the most vulnerable in our society, to do what we say we exist to do - or is that too much to ask?