Saturday, 10 March 2012

Arguing honestly – a moan about Tim Farron, Lib Dem MP

Most of my blog posts are the product of at least a few days' thinking, but sometimes I hear or read something and just feel the need for a bit of a whinge. This is one of the latter occasions and is prompted by this piece from Tim Farron (that's him on the right) in today's Guardian newspaper. Farron, tipped by some as the next leader of the Lib Dems, is basically claiming that Labour and Conservative politicians don't have a conscience while Lib Dems do. Here's an excerpt from the start of Farron's article:
When I joined the Liberal party 26 years ago it was because, in my gut, the Liberals seemed the right people to me. Over the last quarter of a century, particularly in these last 22 months, I've been proved right.

When the Tories have had to "do difficult things" – when they closed the mines, the steelworks and the shipyards – do you think they felt bad about it? No. When Labour invaded Iraq, introduced tuition fees, clobbered the poor by scrapping the 10p tax rate or let the bankers off the leash, wrecking the economy – did they feel bad? I doubt it.

But here we are, the Lib Dems, in government taking difficult decisions to rescue our country from the abyss, and we spend our time feeling guilty and beating ourselves up. Do you know what that proves? It proves that we are human, it proves we are decent, that there is something in our DNA as a party that means Lib Dems acquire and retain a conscience.
Now, in my more tribal moments, I'm also tempted to believe that only the politicians from my camp make their decisions based on morality and good judgement. But that's nonsense, isn't it? It's the worst kind of 'my tribe, right or wrong' partisanship. And reading a senior politician making this argument in such a transparent and extreme way really gets my back up.

Drawing out the wider point, I think it's so important to assume good faith with those who disagree with us. If there's good reason not to believe someone is telling the truth, then fair enough, but how can it be right to dismiss the views of those who don't see things our way simply because they don't see things our way? It's certainly never going to bring people over to your point of view, I'd have thought: 'Oh, you've just demonised me just because I disagree with you. Now, let me give some serious thought to what you're saying...' Not going to happen, is it?


  1. Quite surprising he uses this argument. I would have thought most politicians were canny enough to avoid invoking this argument--unless they were convinced that the majority of their voters weren't bright enough to see through such a transparent ruse. So condescending to even his own 'tribe'.

    Perhaps one could make the argument that he's arguing that there's something in the DNA of Libs that makes them inherently stupid and unable to spot such simplifications? Lib Dems--we're not too bright but we care.

    Hope you're feeling better. One day you might be glad for such sickness as it helps you lose a bit of weight. :)

  2. Ha ha, 'Lib Dems - we're not too bright but we care'. I'm pretty disgusted at Farron's use of this rhetorical trick and, yeah, I do find it condescending.