Blogging is a strange occupation - a solitary writer in search of the sort of communion with others that used to happen in the pub, on the corner, on the bus is now engaging with others electronically instead. So much for progress.

THIS blog is about ideas - big and small - connected with one of the things I care about with a passion, namely the future of liberal thought in this country. I am instinctively a radical liberal, with a grudging belief in the value of markets but an abhorrence of statism and indifference, and a strong belief in social justice. I find Labour bankrupt of ideas, and the Tories intellectually flacid. This is my response.

I am intending always to stick to the point: there will be no rabble-rousing talk, and no wasted jibes at other parties and political philosophies.

Comments will be moderated, but anyone can leave one.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Groan...it's Lembit again

The ability of the leadership of my party to shoot itself in - or, probably, near - the foot is extraordinary, and that arch-transgressor Lembit Opik is at it again today. In an interview reported on the BBC website he makes some rather innocuous points about the Segway personal transporter, a motorised scooter for grown-ups, in a rather silly 'protest' outside the House of Commons. Lembit, who holds a responsible position in the party usually reserved for grown-ups, believes the Segway is " flexible, convenient in rural areas as well as large cities - and environmentally friendly". As it may well be.

But how, even if this were the solution to the transport problems of the UK, does Lembit make the point? By describing it as "...biggest step forward in transportation since the Wright brothers", by stencilling (yes, stencilling) the word 'Police' on the front of one and driving it up and down in front of the House of Commons, and by claiming that adoption of the Segway would constitute, in the words of a BBC report "...a transport "revolution" in the capital as commuters turned to them instead of cars and bicycles".

Now this may be a happy, jolly little jape to Lemit, but it is making my party look silly, trivial and childish. There is nothing wrong with humour in politics, nothing wrong with eccentricity. We don't need only the high-minded Gladstones, the stoical Balfours or the reserved and patrician Douglas-Homes of this world, we do need a few clowns for colour.

Why, though, do they have to congregate in the leadership of a party making a credible claim to be considered the real opposition to the government in so many areas?

Lembit? Please think about the party before personal publicity ahead of your next stunt.


David from Ealing said...

Lembit needs to concentrate on his main job. He's an embarrassment.

morty said...

Lighten up. Lembit is probably the only Lib Dem MP most voters would recognise. Perhaps if others made a bit more effort we would get more publicity as a party.

Technomist said...

I tend to agree with you. He's prone to be a bit of a knob at times, even if fundamentally a nice bloke.

Doesn't the party have any cool people who can take him in hand and tell him to stop trying so desperately hard to be something he'll never be.