Polly does seem to have become a tad wild in her rhetoric here:
…a new beginning with a progressive alliance…..He can only legitimately turn towards Labour if it is self-evident that no way can this radical and progressive party fold in with a sub-Thatcherite programme…..And Labour panickers should take a deep breath (get some sleep) and trust in the great bulk of Lib Dem members who are progressives, not Orange Bookers, decent people……
The problem is that words don\’t actually mean what Polly seems to think. For a start, if you were to use \”radical\” as your measure of value in a politician then Thatcher would certainly be high on your list of those to admire.
For radical really means \”in favour of big changes\” and that was certainly true of her.
Just as radical doesn\’t mean \”people Polly approves of\” nor does \”progressive\”. This means, rather, people who believe in the power of the State to make things better.
I mean, think on it a moment, I\’m certainly a radical and I\’m equally a progressive. Sure the State can make things better. Lower capital taxation and higher consumption taxation would remove distortions in the economy (for capital taxation is more distortionary than consumption taxation) and thus allow higher long term growth for the same sized state apparatus…..just to take a near trivial example. That I also believe that the state could make things better by stopping doing some of the damn fool things it already does makes me no less of a progressive.
And Orange Bookers are most certainly both radicals and progressives….the problem, as far as Polly is concerned, is that they have different prescriptions to get to the same agreed goal: a richer, fairer society for all. And, whisper it gently though we might have to, their prescriptions are rather more grounded in reality than those of the self-declared radical progressives in the parties to the left of them.
If we were to be honest with ourselves and search the various manifestos and pamphlets for radicalism we\’d quite quickly find that the recall and referenda ideas of Carswell and Hannan are radical, that the flat tax and basic income ideas of UKIP are, Gove on free schools, these are radical ideas. Carrying on with more state, more targets and more tractor production stats as Labour seems to want can hardly be described as such radicalism, can it?
Progressive? I think we can zero in on places like the Nordics as what \”progressives\” say should be the desired society?
Then I decided to measure neoliberalism by using the (2008) Heritage Institute’s Index of Economic Freedom minus the two “size of government” components (taxes and spending.) If one simply averaged the other eight components, Denmark edged ahead of Hong Kong as the surprising winner of “most free market economy on earth.”
The same is broadly true of the other Nordics as well. Near impeccably classical liberal economies, the taxation system adopts in near entirety the neo-classical insights into the effects of taxation upon employment and growth and then on top of that they have a large welfare/social security net paid for mostly from consumption taxation.
This is pretty much what the Orange Bookers are advocating isn\’t it? They are both the radicals and progressives (and in economic policies UKIP is even more so) and they\’re aiming at turning the UK into what Polly all along has said she wants.
So why does she hate them so?
Because they like markets and as we know, to the UK left, markets are icky….even if they are, as the Nordics prove, the way to get the things they claim to want.