Does politics have to be partisan and aggressive?

My 7 pledges for a clean campaign in Liverpool Wavertree at this election and beyond

I am in London yesterday and today working on LGA business relating, separately, to health and social care issues and local government investment strategies. I have been in a meeting firstly with fellow Lib Dems and then cross-Party meetings with more to follow. These meetings are genuinely cross-Party in that we do not always agree on things but always try to minimise differences. We then try to move forward together because that is in the best interests of the councils and therefore the people we represent.

Coming down on the train I read a newspaper article in which Heidi Allen and a number of other women MPs have quit Parliament because of the abusive nature of politics. They believe that the strain on them and their families is just too great for people who just entered the political system because they wanted to make our Country a better place.

Putting those two things together and I started thinking about the nature of the coming General Election campaign which according to some media outlets is set to be a bruising battle and highly confrontational. My thoughts were, “am I part of the problem?” and, “whether or not I am part of the problem is there anything I can do to improve matters?”

I have been a part of the political system in Liverpool for all but 3 years when I worked abroad, since 1974 and there is no doubt that the politics of Liverpool has always been robust. But apart from two periods it has always been respectful of other viewpoints. Of course, there were always exceptions but most politicians lived with each other’s viewpoints in the recognition that we all give up our time because we want to make Liverpool a better place.

The exceptions were the early 1980s and the current era. The common feature was the takeover of the Labour Party’s democratic socialist mainstream by the hard-left groupings of Militant (then) and Momentum (now). They are both cut from the same cloth.

What links the behaviour of those groups is:

  • A fanatical cult-like obsession with a Leader
  • Very hard left policies
  • An unwillingness to engage with other politicians outside the cult (either inside or outside their Party)
  • A reluctance to deal with facts
  • A belief that if people disagree with them anything they say is a lie.

Let me give two examples of this one personal and one policy.

At our budget debate I gave two facts about the last Labour Government that could be easily checked. Firstly that 80% of the cuts implemented during the first three years of the 2010/15 Government were actually introduced in the last budget of the Brown Government. The second was that the 2010/15 Government actually made less cuts than were contained in the2010 Labour manifesto. These are not my opinion but verifiable facts – or lies as I was told at the time.

In May we highlighted that one Labour Candidate in Liverpool was being investigated by the Party for anti-Semitism. This had been uncovered by both local and national media. We made no allegations ourselves about the facts of the matter itself because we did not know them just reported the fact of the investigation. That councillor was exonerated, although what that means in Corbyn’s anti-Semitic Party is a matter of dispute. That Cllr continually asks me to apologise for lying when of course no lie was uttered by us.

Enough of the past – let me concentrate on the next 6 weeks. Here is how I am going to behave during the course of the General Election.

  1. I will concentrate not on the shortcomings of the Labour Party (remember for those outside the City there are really only two Parties in Liverpool – Labour and Lib Dem) but on the very positive proposals of my Party.
  2. I will attend any hustings meeting called by residents or amenity groups within the Constituency.
  3. I will treat other candidates and their supporters with respect.
  4. I will respond to any request for information from electors within the Wavertree Constituency
  5. I will meet as many electors as I physically can do and listen to them as well as explaining my policies.
  6. J will use social media carefully and responsibly.
  7. If I do say or publish anything that is incorrect – we do all make mistakes – I will correct the error speedily.

I believe that if every candidate and their supporters not only in Wavertree but the rest of the Country adopted my 7 point plan we could have a an election we could all be proud of.

It would be even better if all the Party Leaders adopted it as well so that we turn on the TV and radio without shuddering!

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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4 Responses to Does politics have to be partisan and aggressive?

  1. Martin Odoni says:

    So, in the spirit of this little bit of preachiness, when do you apologise to Sam Gorst for editing out the detail about him being cleared of anti-Semitism? Reporting that he was being investigated but not admitting he was cleared is aggressive, partisan, and above all, DECEITFUL.

    • richardkemp says:

      The point is that he accused me of lying which you concede I didn’t do. Perhaps the apology ought to come from him.

      • Martin Odoni says:

        That response is as disingenuous as the original deceit. You are pulling the same dirty trick so many politicians pull. Technically tell the truth, but in a way that gives the opposite impression of what the truth is. Therefore you can deny that you’re lying, while still having exactly the same effect as lying. Your intent is still to give people the wrong impression, and so the intent is still to lie.

        There is no moral distinction between lying and telling half-truths. You would only do that if you are being partisan and aggressive, so to blazes with your hypocritical lectures.

      • richardkemp says:

        I have not told either an untruth or a half truth. If you check my Twitter time line you will find that I responded to Cllr Gorst being cleared at the time

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