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September 7, 2010

I guess I should address, before it becomes to out of date, a little of the Sheffield-based political happenings recently.

Just so you know, politics for me is left wing, revolutionary Socialist. If you don’t agree, I’m happy to discuss, but more than likely you’ll just enjoy the rest of the blog for its own content.

So, what am I on about? Well, on Friday there was this rally outside the old Town Hall (pet peeve: people of Sheffield, please distinguish between the old and new Town Halls – just because the eggbox has gone doesn’t mean you’re not confusing me) because Nick Clegg was inside with various local puppets (Paul Scriven, David Blunkett) talking about local businesses. The demo was called by the Sheffield Trades Council, and supported by various trade unions, the Campaign Against Climate Change, and the Right to Work Campaign.

So. Why call a demo to protest against an elected politician? Well, quite simply, democracy does not begin and end at the ballot box – democracy also includes the right to protest and dissent. Once elected, politicians are accountable to the people of the country, and so even if we didn’t vote for the ruling party(parties) we still have the right to air our views.

Unfortunately, on Friday the aim of many of the speakers at the demo seemed (to me, and my fellow comrades present) to be completely missing the point. They repeatedly banged on about how Nick Clegg had ‘betrayed Sheffield’ and ‘the working class people of Sheffield’. Let’s clarify – Nick Clegg has not let anyone down. He has not betrayed his roots, he has not betrayed his party. The only injustice to be felt here is by those who were naive enough to believe that the Liberal Democrats were a Left Wing alternative in the first place. To those people – I’m sorry, but if you feel betrayed, you weren’t paying much attention in the first place. The Liberal Democrats are a free-market, liberal values party. That’s liberal in the ‘freedom to and freedom from’ sense, not in the screwed up American sense (where ‘liberal’ and ‘left’ seem often to be interchangeable). Liberalism dictates the Lib Dem character, and their policy. Where their policies seem more ‘Left’ than Labour, this is often due to a number of factors that have come back to haunt the party since they joined the coalition. Many of their policies were particularly populist, but were rooted in the idea that they wouldn’t reach power, so wouldn’t have to enact them. Now they have a seat at the table, they’ve retracted their ‘left’ policies and gone back to the foundations of their Liberal history.

So, to Friday. The demo was a bit of a damp squib really – I don’t think the Right to Work campaign has enough grounding here yet to pull off a big event. The turn out was no more than 100 people or so, and most were ‘the left’. The speakers were a mixed bag – some really liberal (small ‘l’) rubbish about how Nick Clegg has betrayed Sheffield, and some better stuff about how he is and always has been an enemy of the working class, and some discussion of the cancellation of the funding to Sheffield Forgemasters (something I may address later).

On a positive note, it was good to see a few new faces and some of my work colleagues came along who may not have done anything like that before. Additionally, a comic highlight was when Sheffield Anarchist Federation slowly edged their banner stating ‘Never Trust a Politician’ behind New Labour MP, and big boss of the Sheffield Uni SU Paul Blomfield:

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 8, 2010 1:06 pm

    You’re right, I think, to suggest that Clegg isn’t quite the traitor that many say he is. However, the LibDems were *the* left-wing alternative and have been since 1997.

    The absence of a solid, but realistic, left-wing alternative means that they are the best we could do.

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