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Progressive politics and the State... and Sunny Hundal

8 November 2007

Anthony Barnett (London, OK): Sunny Hundal has run an article on the Liberal Conspiracy in todays Guardian and blogged it in LibCon as well. A key passage towards the end reads,

The liberal-left, broadly, risks making little headway on core issues because of a painful lack of coalition building. It is characterised by single-issue groups working in isolation, denouncing each other over spurious issues and with little cross-campaigning and exchange of ideas. They've become fixated with demanding more legislation rather than shifting minds and conversations. There are simple questions to be asked. What is the liberal-left agenda for tomorrow? How can we then push that forward and make politicians listen?

We have an opportunity to use the internet to involve a new generation of Britons to collaborate on campaigns as never before. That is the only way to stem the rising tide of political apathy and disillusionment, re-energise our base and seize the political initiative. The liberal-left has to think past single-issue campaigns and work together to push a progressive agenda for Britain.

Personally, I agree with this. Also Sunny is very open to ideas wherever they come from, his does not have a narrow assumption about what is progressive. I want OurKingdom to engage with the Liberal Conspiracy and exchange ideas about the constitutional future of Britain especially. This brings me to my 'and' (and not a sectarian or silo 'but'). How things are done matters as much as what is done. In a modern democracy where ownership means identity as well as cash, the process is part of the outcome.

We can't just look to policies, we must also look to the way they are legislated and the kind of State this means we have. One of the roles of OurKingdom is to try and demonstrate what this means. To take some posts from this week:

  • Guy Herbert of No2ID poses the question of the database state and what freedom it permits as its reshapes our identies.
  • Roger Smith of Justice outlines the apparently systematic abuses to the rule of law the government has permitted itself
  • Simon Barrow of Ekklesia sets out the case against the expansion of faith schools that threaten to divide the next generation on religious lines.
  • Three examples are enough! There are more encompassing issues about the constitution: the national question, the EU, migration and identity. We need to bring these together as Sunny eloquently sets out. But - and here it really is a but - these arguments need to be addressed to everyone, not just the left. Questions of democracy are now being debated with some urgency and spirit on the right. There is now a Tory campaign for electoral reform, to take just one example, with respect to what is perhaps the most blatant injustice in the British political system. This impinges on the defining question: what kind of state do you want? It is how you answer this which leads on to what kind of government you want. A state that clings to its imperial roots and forms, that exercises royal executive power behind the screen of 'parliamentary sovereignty', that looks into the mirror of the mass media and declares that 'we' need 'strong government' (see Cameron playing this riff against Brown), can such an instrument deliver and sustain progress politics?

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