Political

Party of protest or party of government? It’s the wrong question

Jeremy Browne’s post-sacking interview with The Times has generated a fair amount of comment within the party, varying from the quizzical to the critical (such as Richard Morris’s post).

Much of it has centred on the ex-minister’s comments about the Liberal Democrats having to change from being a party of protest to one of government. One point, however, not made by others (as far as I’ve seen) is that the very premise of the supposed debate is wrong. It’s not a choice – the party should be both.

The Liberal Democrats should be protesting about the illiberal aspects of our society and the undemocratic aspects of our political system – and should seek to be in government in order to assist in addressing those, in order to make our country both more liberal and more democratic.

Being a party of government without also being a party of protest means you end up being a party of the status quo. Fine if you are a conservative (of the Conservative or Labour type) or fine if you are happy to let the civil service and vested interests to be in charge. But if you want to change things, then you need to go into government protesting against the status quo and not forget about those protests once you’re there.

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