Tuesday 22 July 2003

Wither the Left?

Some rare sense from the pen of Paddy McGuinness, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald :
Most policy differences which are not vitiated by ideology these days involve research. Which policies produce the best economic and environmental outcomes? When is privatisation or deregulation a good idea, and when is it not?

Equally, a central issue for centre-left and liberal democratic parties is whether trade unions do more harm than good these days, now that their role in determining working conditions is a function of legislation and government.

But the issues of the extreme left, whether ideological or religious, are different. They are matters of symbolism, far from the issues of national and domestic security. And their main manifestation is distaste for the majority of voters, who are continually denounced as racists, rednecks, or whatever suits the determined sense of moral superiority which is the motivation of the political and religious left.

There is also an infuriating irrelevance in the rhetoric of this group when dealing with commonsense issues. This was nicely illustrated in an anecdote related by the former New Zealand prime minister Mike Moore, in a piece in The Australian Financial Review, describing the Progressive Governance conference. He retold the story of the good Samaritan as a Labour candidate who bends down to the victim of violence and theft on the roadside and says, caringly, "Whoever did this to you needs real help."


The essential problem for the centre left - those who can be roughly described as social democrats (as distinct from former communists who now call themselves that) - is to distance itself from the exponents of moral superiority.
So, wither the Left? Because under the burden of the Ideological Moonbats and "caring and sharing" arrogant pseudo-intellectuals it's certainly withering at the moment.

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