Reach your minds back into the mists of time for a second; once there was one party a Liberal Party and over time this party cleaved into the Liberal Party and the Labour Party. Centrally, at first, this was not first and foremost a question of an ideological split but a question of representation and the Liberal Party’s failure to represent the emerging industrial working classes who organised themselves in trade unions. Now fast-forward to the present day and the notion of class-based representation is seemingly dead in the water; whether in it’s Blairist or Cameron form the dominant notion is ‘one-nationism’; that the desirable goal is to seek to represent the broadest sweep of the national demographic as possible.
This process is laced with irony because more and more people find political parties unrepresentative of their interests whether they are jobless and penniless, a trade unionist, or a flustered middle-manager who get’s by working ridiculous hours. So, in the dash to represent ‘one-nation’ the ‘big-two’ are actually getting further and further away from that goal. Naturally, they represent the vested interests that keep them in power; both ignore structural problems with the society we live in and refuse point blank to acknowledge we live in a society riven by class division.
Meanwhile, the British National Party make hay and achieve minor electoral breakthroughs giving a voice to the worst prejudices of those who are bitter about being left voiceless. They recognise there is division in society but draw the lines in the wrong places. So, where can we in the Liberal Democrats claim to stand on this issue; of who we represent? The short answer is in the same place as the other two parties; rather than saying quite plainly we stand-up for the dispossessed, everybody who is disadvantaged in society being run as it is, we try and pull off the ‘one nation’ trick. No surprise that in Leeds, when given the chance, rather than advance as honest brokers we uncritically swallow management propaganda in an industrial dispute and miss the opportunity to stand-up for the dispossessed; instead smearing and slandering these people needlessly and with a degree of political recklessness that beggars belief.
We are in danger of repeating history; of missing a historic chance to represent those who feel the Labour Party has left them behind. If we do this we will never be the ‘party of progress’ Nick Clegg thinks we can be….