Wednesday, 31 March 2010

From Faction To Action

It is true that the Healthcare Bill, unlike the New Deal or Great Society legislation, was passed without a single Republican vote. But that only serves to illustrate how narrow the Republican Party has now become. Whereas the Democratic Party continues to stretch from New Dems, through Blue Dogs, to the Progressive Caucus. Or, if you prefer, from Blue Dogs, through New Dems, to the Progressive Caucus. Or, if you prefer...

Anyway, E Pluribus Unum, indeed, although some policing, akin to border control, might not go amiss: you can define yourself as one of a fiscal conservative as ordinarily defined, a social conservative, and a foreign policy hawk; at a push, you might even be able to be two of them; but if you are all three, then you belong on the other side of aisle.

In the urgently necessary re-emergence of a mass political movement in the United Kingdom, a caucus system might very well prove useful. There could be three, each of with an inoffensive name such as "the Unity Caucus", with party members free to join any one or more by payment of a small additional subscription, with party members free to join none if they preferred, with half the seats at the Party Conference and on the National Executive Committee to be divided equally among them while the other half went to the constituency parties, with the same in the Electoral College to find two Leadership candidates to put out to a binding ballot of the electorate as a whole, with parliamentary candidates to be shortlisted from the lists maintained by them unless from the constituency or one adjacent (and then put out out to a binding ballot of the constituency electorate as a whole), and with each required to part-fund any candidate selected from its list.

One caucus would give a voice to those whose priorities included the Welfare State, workers’ rights, trade unionism, the co-operative movement, consumer protection, strong communities, conservation rather than environmentalism, fair taxation, full employment, public ownership, proper local government, a powerful Parliament, and a base of real property from which every household could resist both over-mighty commercial interests and an over-mighty State, while having a no less absolute commitment to any or all of the monarchy, the organic Constitution, national sovereignty, civil liberties, the Union, the Commonwealth, the countryside, grammar schools, traditional moral and social values, controlled importation and immigration, and a realistic foreign policy.

Another would give a voice to those whose priorities included agriculture, manufacturing, small business, national sovereignty, the Union, economic patriotism, local variation, historical consciousness, traditional moral and social values, the whole Biblical and Classical patrimony of the West, close-knit communities, law and order, civil liberties, academic standards, all forms of art, mass political participation within a constitutional framework (“King and People” against the Whig magnates), conservation rather than environmentalism, sound money, a realistic foreign policy, a strong defence capability used only for the most sparing and strictly defensive purposes, the Commonwealth, the constitutional and other ties among the Realms and Territories having the British monarch as Head of State or other such constitutional links, the status of the English language and the rights of its speakers both throughout the United Kingdom and elsewhere, the rights of British-descended communities throughout the world, the longstanding and significant British ties to the Arab world, support for the Slavs in general and for Russia in particular as the gatekeepers of Biblical-Classical civilisation, a natural affinity with Confucian culture, exactly as much central and local government action as is required by these priorities, a profound suspicion of an American influence and action characteristically defined against them, and an active desire for a different American approach.

And the third would give a voice to those whose priorities included civil liberties, local communitarian populism, the indefatigable pursuit of single issues, the Nonconformist social conscience, the legacy of Keynes and Beveridge, traditional moral and social values, consumer protection, conservation rather than environmentalism, national sovereignty, a realistic foreign policy, the Commonwealth, the peace activism historically exemplified by Sir Herbert Samuel, redress of economic and political grievances in the countryside, and the needs and concerns of areas remote from the centres of power both in the United Kingdom and in each of its constituent parts.

These are the priorities of the moderate, mainstream middle of British public opinion, so that they comprise the true “centre ground”, whereas other views, while not necessarily illegitimate, are nevertheless extreme and eccentric. So membership of all three, for those who so chose, would be perfectly possible. I would be in all three, for a start.


  1. I would like to thank David Lindsay for finally putting on record what some of us have been saying for 15 years. He could just as easily have been in any of the three parties and no-one would have been able to tell the difference. He would have been a little uncomfortable in any of them, but nothing like as uncomfortable as a left-wing Labour member or a right-wing Tory or a Liberal in the Lib Dems.

    He has never sought and does not deserve his reputation as a principled firebrand of the left. He joined Labour because it was the local establishment and that is where he naturally belongs. See his regular references to the sort of background he comes from in St. Helena. Ask anyone who remembers him from school. Labour was his route to the council seats and school governor positions that his family have been filling wherever they may be for generations.

    I am not calling him unprincipled when I say that he would have joined the Tories if he had grown up in Surrey or the Lib Dems if he had grown up in Cornwall. I am just saying that his principles are the ones in this post and those are equally compatible with activism in any of the three parties.

    He was a highly successful sub-agent for Hilary Armstrong in 1997. He was always a protégé of the very right-wing Labour establishment on Derwentside Council, Consett Catholics and the countryside against the left in Stanley, which has come to support Kevan Jones. On this blog he is still fighting the anti-Jones fight even after Derwentside has been abolished.

    His mentors were closer to the opposition than to the left of their own party. That opposition was Derwentside Independents, given extra committee chairs to keep out the left and in return for never contesting the Labour leader's ward. Their own leader ran for Parliament last time on a manifesto largely copied word for word from David Lindsay's letters to the Advertiser. He is on excellent terms with several of them.

    Look at the poisonous feud between him and Neil Fleming going back to who got the third Labour nomination in Lanchester in 2003. It was a dispute between Labour's two right wings, the New Labour Right (Fleming) and the Old Labour Right (Lindsay), Thatcherites and Tories. Neil is the more progressive of the two, socially liberal, republican, pro-European, pro-comprehensive, anti-hunting, only goes to Mass occasionally. He has not gone on to write for either the Telegraph or the Pat Buchanan founded American Conservative.

    But David Lindsay the Great White Hope of the Left became David Lindsay the Martyr of the Left. Read this post or any paragraph of it and ask yourself how anyone could possibly believe that.

  2. He was granted club rights by the Old Right when he was a student and discovered the Internet. He was granted club rights by the Old Left when he was a schoolboy. He still has both and he uses them. But neither club has ever made him sign on the dotted line to abide by the rules. This is why.

  3. When it comes to his feud with Neil Fleming, Lindsay sees a pretty boy with an accent who watches football, listens to pop music, has scarcely an MBE or OBE in his family and hardly knows a claret from a Bordeaux.

    The idea was that whichever of them got that council seat in 2003 would have gone on to get this parliamentary seat in 2009 or 2010. Otherwise neither of them would have cared. But Labour lost two seats out of three in Lanchester and then an all women shortlist was imposed. Looks like Neil, employed first by Hilary and now by the Party, has wasted 10 years of his life.

    Lindsay, meanwhile, was Chair of Lanchester Labour Party when he tried to get them to run only enough candidates to fill their existing Parish seats and tried to talk the Tories into doing the same, perhaps with a couple of extras to replace Labour retirees as a sweetener. That way there would have been no election and they would all have got in unopposed.

    Only Neil alerting Labour North stopped that from happening because Lanchester is not your average Parish Council with only a couple of hundred residents. Welcome to the David Lindsay school of politics. As Anonymous 23:18 says, he learned from the masters.

  4. The Lanchester Tories are the sort he approves of, the ones who could be in the second caucus listed here as part of a new party. Like the Derwentside Independents.

    Rumour has it his Telegraph pieces on getting paleocons elected as Democrats and bringing back conservative Democrats through the black churches, which predictably went down like lead balloons with the more Palinite type of Telegraph reader, went down a storm in paleocon, conservative Democrat and black church circles stateside. They are in touch wih him about making it happen, apparently.

  5. Praise the Lord! Thanks be to David Lindsay. How long until he is Prime Minister?

  6. Mr Piccolo for Congress.

  7. He learned from the best, all right.

    Derwentside Independents, Peter Hitchens/Ukip types to a man, once promised one of David's political godfathers that they would deliver the votes to keep him as Leader of the Council if he lost the confidence of the majority of Labour Group on account of losses to them in Consett and the rural wards.

    Rather than split the party the Left fell into line. Whether DI voters thought that they were voting to keep the same Council Leader I do not know.

    David's mates all round. The Labour ones and the many who have left the party are all going to vote for him and maybe the DIs will end up doing so too. Some of them definitely will.

  8. Q, it's not me that you have to convince.