Tuesday, 3 August 2010

When I see the word "progressive", I release the clip on my constitution

"Progressive" is the weasel word of choice for Labourites and their fellow-travellers these days. Peter Black draws attention to a recent article by Owen Smith MP, in which he describes the Labour-directed government in Cardiff as "a genuinely progressive coalition".

Other commentators have bemoaned the Liberal Democrats abandonment of "progressive politics" in choosing to enter coalition with the Conservatives rather than side with New Labour. Anthony Seldon, Daniel Jones in "Our Kingdom" and "Left Foot Forward" to quote just a few from a cursory Webfetch, illustrate the point. Most telling of all is the subject, and the dramatis personae, of a conference mounted in Congress House before the election.

My mind harks back to my early days as an impecunious civil service clerical officer in London. The "Progressive Café" in Rochester Row, close to my lodgings, was the most reasonable eaterie in the area. Next door were the company offices of "Progressive Tours". Some idea of the company's motivation can be gained from the holiday destinations: Romania, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and Hungary among others behind the Iron Curtain in those days. Needless to say, political discussions with the waiter were interesting. It seems to me that this use of the word "progressive" is hanging around.

There is an undeniable technical meaning of the word as applied to taxation: income tax is progressive, VAT and council tax not directly so. As to the everyday meaning, I quote from the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution and invite readers to decide whether a forward-looking coalition could be formed with Labour, given their record in Westminster and Cardiff:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.


Frank H Little said...

There are also these comments from John Kampfner: <a href="http://www.libdemvoice.org/liblink-john-kampfner-yes-i-feel-queasy-but-i-dont-regret-backing-the-lib-dems-20541.html>http://www.libdemvoice.org/liblink-john-kampfner-yes-i-feel-queasy-but-i-dont-regret-backing-the-lib-dems-20541.html</a>

Anonymous said...

You are judged though not by what you, or your constition, says but what you do.

Measure your words against the unforgivable and brutal treatment of the poorest and weakest in our society by the government you have chosen and you should feel nothing but shame.

Frank H Little said...

Anon, the gap between the well-paid and the poorest widened under Labour. Nothing the coalition proposes can be described as "brutal" treatment.