The Liberal Democrats and the Nuremberg Defence:
“Doubtless, the permanently disabled and those dying of cancer will be reassured to learn that “Many Liberal Democrats have been uncomfortable voting with the government, but feel forced to do so if they are to abide by their coalition commitment to bring the deficit under control” (Coalition’s welfare reform plan hit by £1.6 bn Lords defeat, 12 January).
Some of us were under the misguided impression that the “only obeying orders” defence, now being used by Liberal Democrat MPs and most Liberal Democrat peers, was ruled out at the Nuremberg trials.
Even if, like Clegg and his crew, one were to assume that Keynes was wrong and Herbert Hoover and Heinrich Brüning were right to pursue deflationary austerity policies in the middle of a world depression, one might suggest Trident could be cut and spending on the Olympics and the jubilee reduced or cancelled rather than making the most vulnerable in society pay for the bankers’ crisis.
Dr Tobias Abse
Goldsmiths, University of London
(Dr. Tobias Abse is a professor at Goldsmiths College of the University of London. An expert on fascism, Abse has written extensively on the rise of the Fascist Right in Italy prior to World War II – BT)
Lib Dem Spring Conference Saturday 10th March, 2012
The Public Services Alliance are organising a protest against this extreme-right wing Tory government collaborator who are hell-bent on destroying the very fabric of our national life and placing disabled people in danger.
This is a call to arms for all disabled people in the Central Belt, Southern Scotland and North Northumberland.
We must unite, one with another, and descend upon Gateshead on the day in unison with the wider anti-cuts movement to call upon the rank-and-file, grassroots, Liberal Democrats to sever the head of their party by passing a vote of no confidence in the current leadership.
Alone among all the other parties – the Liberal Democrat Constitution allows for such a move whilst the leaders are in office. Whatever the realistic prospects for such a move we must demand it – whatever the outcome.
What can we say about the way that the parliamentary Liberal Democrat party has behaved since their Autumn Conference in running roughshod over the express, democratic wishes of their party’s core constituency – its membership – by supporting and voting through the most unconscionable, despicable and infamous cuts in history to the support of some of the most vulnerable members of our society in its notorious Welfare Reform Bill?
We can start by saying that this behaviour constitutes one of the most heinous examples of a political ‘leadership’ running amok in modern British history.
The slogan for the Autumn Conference was “In Government; on your side!“.
We say, rather, that they are “In Government; by diktat and betrayal!“.
Diktat, because it voted against the express wishes of its own party membership in voting through the Welfare Reform Bill, unamended, in both Commons and Lords.
Betrayal, by ditching profound and fundamental Liberal Democrat values.
It is as if party political democracy itself has been hijacked by a tiny clique who, intoxicated with power and prestige, have decided that they no longer require to listen to those within their party who elected them.
These tin-pot ‘Little Hitlers’ falsely posit a ‘national emergency’ in which all our constitutional norms, values and principles must be suspended for the higher good of the nation.
It is, of course, complete and utter bollocks, to put it extremely mildly.
As disability rights campaigners, we encounter the good, in fact the very best in people daily among our fellow activists and comrades in the wider movement to save Britain from the Hell that the ConDems have prepared for us.
One such ‘comrade’ – though he would no doubt object to the use of that term – is a young gentleman and Liberal Democrat Party activist called George Potter (to call George a ‘gentleman’ doesn’t really do him sufficient justice – I prefer to call him a ‘Mench’).
George was one of the sponsors and supporters of the motion referred to above which made support for disabled people party policy.
He will be at Conference fighting our corner and, indeed, for the ‘Liberal Democrat Values’ in which he still believes.
At this point, I should confess, to my utter shame and humiliation, that I myself voted for the party in the last general election, in what seems like a lifetime ago.
I even canvassed for the local candidate, so I feel the rage of betrayal all the more deeply and I’m sure that many of you reading this feel similarly duped and robbed of hope and trust in human nature for the same reasons.
Yes, I was once a Liberal Democrat – but I’m cured now!
I’ve realised that I’m actually much further to the ‘left’ of any party on the scene – and that I fundamentally believe in Anarchism along the lines of the Spanish Communes during the Civil War. The betrayal by the Lib Dem leadership, I believe, rather illustrates how current party structures are corrupting and cannot be relied upon to deliver freedom or social and economic justice for communities or nations.
The Lib Dem membership could yet prove me wrong on this. I note that they’ve got the power to recall their leader, if they only had the balls to do it. Who knows? They could even end up saving their party from final damnation!
Who would replace Clegg? Might I suggest Charles Kennedy in the interim?
Here are the some of the fundamental values that George and I share, as presumably do a swathe of other people who will be attending the Spring Conference:
‘The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity’.
‘We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity’.
‘We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives’.
‘We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights…..’
‘Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality………’
On Equality :
‘Britain today is a multi-ethnic, multi-faith, diverse society. It is a richer society as a result – culturally, socially and economically. Liberal Democrats embrace and celebrate a diverse Britain.’
‘We will ensure that our laws reflect that diversity, protecting all from violence, discrimination and harassment and allowing everyone the freedom to live their lives’.
We have 19 days from today to organise ourselves and lobby the Liberal Democrat membership.
We have 19 days to organise a mass demonstration of disabled people:
To show our disgust and indignation at the PLDP’s support for the Welfare Reform Bill and at their betrayal of their stated, fundamental values, as contained in their constitution.
To subject them to oppobrium they so richly deserve for the fraudulent way in which they have deceived and betrayed not just the electorate but their own membership.
We will be writing to all member delegates. Each and every one of them.
We will show them that we’re still here and that we’re still suffering and dying.
We will tell them that a line has been crossed.
We will tell the membership that they must react: That they must do something or our blood will be upon their heads as well.
We will not be silenced! Nor will we remain invisible! We will keep coming back to taunt and haunt their consciences! We will not go quietly!!!
We will attempt to reconnect with the conscience of the membership – the majority of whom George asserts are on our side – and demand that they repudiate the PLDP for their repudiation of the spirit and letter of their party’s democratic constitution and laws in voting in for the WRB, in flagrant breach of the motion which was passed at their Autumn Conference.
Black Triangle will be attempting to provide free, accessible transport to Newcastle on the day. If you are would like to join us please email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Each and every person’s attendance is precious.
Nobody can speak or act for you.
If you are at all able to attend, you must!
The time to fight back is now!
Assemble 11-11.30,Wesley Square, Newcastle Quayside
March – either over the Swing Bridge or the Millennium Bridge (may be closed due to repairs!)
Rally – 12.30, Baltic Square, Gateshead
Please start to raise awareness now to ensure that we have a good attendance on the day.