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Political Principles

It is a well-worn path to criticise the hypocrisy of many Liberal Democrat voters. While in the run up to the general election many were brazenly calling for “new politics” (a phrase that dated as fast as it was coined) and making a plea for an end to the tribalism of the two party system, these people (many of whom are students) are now reeling and seething at the Lib-Con marriage that is the coalition Government.

It particularly hits hard for those fresh faced, youthful and idealistic voters first time voters, who felt they were riding the crest of a wave (where everyone agreed with Nick) to a better country. Many of them are now hardened cynics. They feel betrayed; many will never vote Liberal Democrat again.

To a large extent, this new politics acted as an alibi for a deeper political need. While compromise in politics is admirable, and often necessary, it is clear that the new politics, if we wanted it at all, was not really about compromise and an end to blind party loyalty, but was instead about principles and values.

This underlying call for a return to political principles is not confined those on the Left. Just as there are many Liberal Democrats horrified at the Lib-Con partnership, there are many Conservatives equally appalled at what they see as the betrayal of their core values.

Speaking to The Guardian’s John Harris at the Labour party conference, Labour MP Jon Cruddas says, from the perspective of a new era in the Labour party, “We need to talk about identity, nationhood, class, race […] it’s a much deeper sense about what is going to happen, and what the country wants to do.” Such concerns transcend Cruddas’ own party, and represent the politics that was being called for in the spring.

Forget the new politics of the “Big Society” – we should look forward to the new politics of Big Ideas.

Tags: Richard Gall

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