Reason number two for my support of the Lib Dems is their abiding concern with concentrated power. In Vince’s policies it is about dissolving the power of banks and other monopolies. In education it is about moving power down to where headteachers and local authorities can make decisions. In electoral reform it is about ensuring that a small clique within one party that itself commands barely a third of popular support cannot just take the reins of the government, dressing it up as ‘leadership and gumption‘.
This is not just about Conservatives and their stubborn addiction to unfair politics. Clegg explains it well in his foreword to ‘A Liberal moment’ (Demos pdf):
Labour’s basic approach to governance – to social, political, economic and environmental progress – is fundamentally flawed. Its starting point is central state activism, its defining characteristic is the hoarding of power at the centre, and its method of delivery is top-down government. These reflexes once had their day … But the situation today, almost exactly a century later, is almost exactly the reverse: state-centred, top-down solutions are wholly out of step with the demands of our age. We live in a more atomised society where people are no longer rigidly defined by class or place. Our society is no longer trapped by a culture of diffidence and hierarchy. The capacity of the nation state to act for its citizens has been dramatically diluted as globalisation has undermined its powers.
Eavesdropping on blogs and speeches, the Labour mentality is always to hoard and disburse resources from the centre, and then boast about what ‘we’ did for ‘you’. Once this was merely jarring – post crisis it is unaffordable.