Why I’ve Joined the SDP – A Renewed Party for a Tired Britain

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I remember the night well. It was March 1981 and I received a phone call from a fellow political activist in the Labour party asking me to come to a particular venue to prepare for the launch of a new political party – the Social Democratic Party.  I was a member of the Labour party but like many others had had enough of the extremist Marxist takeover that had taken place in my party.   Our hopes were high, and we began well, but ultimately we failed and Britain continued on its Thatcherite/Blairite/Cameronite way.

When I became a Free Church minister in 1986 I was not a member of any political party and believed that as a minister it was better for me not to be a member of any party.  I have always kept party politics out of the pulpit and the pulpit out of party politics (I am no Iain Paisley!).  Although I did become a supporter of the SNP and the cause of Scottish Independence.

Over the past three decades, like many, I have become increasingly disillusioned with politics and political leaders – it seems to me that they have all morphed into more or less the same creature – with the exception of the far right and far left who seem to be providing the only alternatives to the elitist bubble that our politicians live in.   Over the years I have voted SNP (usually) but also Green, Labour, Lib-Dem, Scottish Socialist and even Conservative!  I now vote for the candidates who come closest to my views, rather than any party – although even they are becoming increasingly hard to come by – as candidates just become lobby fodder rather than free thinkers.

I have been particularly disappointed in the SNP – who have moved from being a somewhat ramshackle party to one of the tightest and most authoritarian in the Western world.   As its membership has dramatically increased it has become more like a cult than a political party, where no dissent is permitted.  It has adopted the self-styled ‘liberal progressive’ policies of our cultural elites without question.    It’s one party, one state, one police, one doctrine, one leader.    And it has destroyed its main purpose, the independence of the Scottish nation, by its fanatical devotion to the EU – thus threatening to take us out of one union into an even larger and more undemocratic one.    To watch the SNP complain about the Tories sell out on fisheries whilst they themselves have a policy which commits Scotland to belong to the EU and thus the CFP is nauseating in its hypocrisy.  To watch the followers just buy into that (as they do every meme/dictat sent out from party HQ) is only confirmation of the cult like status of the Party.

So I’ve had enough of party politics and thought I would never join a political party again.  Until this week.   I’ve rejoined the renewed SDP – why?  Largely because it reflects my political views.  I am a democrat who believes in the nation-state and not supranationalism.  I believe that we should have a welfare state and free enterprise.  I would rather be governed by politicians we elect than technocrats we don’t.  I despise fascism and the ultra right – and believe that the political elites by listening only to themselves are driving people into their arms.  The far left are as bad, if not worse than the far right.  Both cultivate the politics of identity and hate.

As I watch the political class ignore and dismantle the biggest democratic vote in UK history I despair for my country.  As I watch a Conservative Prime Minister adopt the most extremist identity politics in human history in order to appear ‘nice’, I despair.  As I watch a Labour party which has abandoned the working class and become the champagne socialist party with more than a tinge of anti-Semitism, I despair.  As I watch a Liberal party totally in hoc to the EU and unable to permit a Christian to be its leader, I despair.  As I watch the SNP become the EUNP and the most extremist kind of ‘progressive’ party,  I despair.   As I see the Far Right and Left grow in popularity as the people despair of their politicians, I despair.

And then I read this New Declaration  – here are a few examples.

We hold that the old Labour/Conservative duopoly is harming our nation. The Conservative party has conserved very little and instead, has put everything up for sale. Labour has abandoned the nation’s working men and women. To preserve what is best in our nation Westminster must change. Our outdated voting system stifles political competition and denies new entrants a chance to contribute. As a result, people rightly feel powerless, with their voices ignored at Westminster. Reform of Britain’s broken political system is long overdue, and we will be at the forefront of reinvigorating democratic politics.

We hold that public services such as education and the NHS have been badly let down by the two-party system. Labour and Conservative governments have produced wild swings in expenditure with periods of unsustainable spending followed by periods of austerity.

We consider the nation-state to be the upper limit of democracy. Along with the family, we regard it as indispensable to the solidarity of our society and concern for our fellow citizens. We regard supranationalism as a neoliberal ideology aimed at neutering domestic politics and placing the most important issues beyond the reach of ordinary voters. The European Union or any other supranational entity is not – and will never be – a social democratic enterprise.

We believe a stable and secure family life – with support from the extended family and the community – to be the foundation of society and critical to raising responsible citizens. It is in the home where we first learn the virtues of obligation, compassion and concern for others which transcend self-interest. And yet successive governments have been powerless in resisting an epidemic of family breakdown which has caused widespread suffering and has harmed the life-chances of millions of children.

Government must defend and support family life whenever possible, particularly in welfare and economic policy, education and housing. We will shelter British families from the economic and social pressures fracturing our society, and rebuild a prosperous and happier nation with policies that place the working family at the heart of national life.

Of course these are all just words and I am not naive enough to think that any of our political parties will be our salvation, but I am a democrat and I live in a democratic country.  I have a duty to vote and to seek to influence those votes.  As a Christian I am a realist, but I also have a duty to be involved.

Of course the SDP will not share all my views – but they do share many.  I hope that on ‘moral’ issues they will permit people like me to express our viewpoints, even if we don’t agree.  The Labour party no longer allows me to dissent on abortion.  The Conservatives won’t let me dissent on SSM or Transgender.  The Liberals are increasingly illiberal.  And the SNP won’t let me dissent on anything!  As a democratic party the SDP will allow different views to be expressed.

This does not mean that I will  preach politics from the pulpit – I never have, and God forbid that I ever will.   People of all political views and none will be welcome in Church.  As a Christian I will continue to pray for the nation and ALL its politicians and people.   As a citizen I will continue to vote and be political – for the good of the country and its people.   I don’t care if I am not on the ‘winning side’ – I am happy to be one of the little people playing my role.  And who knows maybe in the UK it will be new centrist democratic parties like the SDP, rather than the extremists,  who will be the beneficiaries of the people’s despair at the cynical, cowardly, self-serving connivance of our political classes?  We can only hope….

The End of Scottish Independence?

The Political Police and the Slide to an Authoritarian State

 

12 thoughts on “Why I’ve Joined the SDP – A Renewed Party for a Tired Britain

  1. It is where we probably both agree when it comes to politics: the british political system is broken.

    In my view the biggest culprit is first past the post, a system that is relatively recent in its current form. It gives absolute power to whatever party has the majority (to the point passing laws not even mentioned in the manifesto), and gives a lot of air time to the “other” one so that neither really wants change. There is no need to find consensus, the only thing that needs to be done is appease any “rebel”, for which carrots are given and sticks used.

    As you well know by now, where we differ is on Brexit. For me it is just a smoke screen for problems that are of the Government’s own making. Even Scottish independence could be a bit of the same. It is something new, something different, where we can nail all of our disgruntlement, put in it all of our hope and aspirations, without noticing that all those that are in the bandwagon with us have vastly different view, and without noticing that the only thing that is holding it together is the “faith” that this new thing is going to bring “insert agenda here” about. But when the reality of running an administration comes, that is when it gets complicated. It is what we have seen with so many of these political renewal movements (like Macron’s “En Marche”). And the silencing of dissent within the SNP ranks is all part of the same thing. We can’t possibly taint this ideal with talking about what it will actually mean in reality.

    So I wish the SDP well, and I will be praying for political (and electoral) reform so that one day power will be less centralised, more consensual, where there is healthy debate and respect

    I will not however be holding my hope for the salvation of the country in any of the political debates of the moment (Brexit, no Brexit, independence, “insert issue here”, etc.)

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  2. I’m very much in sympathy with what you’ve done. A pro-Brexit centre Party committed to radical reform of this Country is what many people who voted for Brexit are looking for – otherwise politics is in danger of being pushed to either extreme. However, I’m curious, how does this stack-up with your support for Scottish Independence?

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    1. I’ve given up on Scottish Independence because the SNP have….its not going to happen. And I would not want to be part of an ‘independent’ Scotland governed by the authoritarian SNP on behalf of the EU Technocrats.

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  3. Have you been listening to Radio 4? I have. I had no idea that the SDP still existed until I heard that it existed in some parts of Scotland. At the time David Owen was being interviewed and he considers himself an independent SDP.

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  4. Did you consider the SFP, David? I would have expected, from what little I have viewed of their ‘policy plans’, that they would be even more to your taste than the renewed SDP!

    If you did, I am curious to know why you rejected them. If you didn’t, I am equally curious to know why not!

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  5. Great to see the SDP taking this stance on the family. There seems to be a renewed interest in family and social conservative values within new political parties. I notice the Scottish Family Party, the Unionist and Sovereignty Party as well as the movement Support 4 the Family within UKIP all espouse family and social conservative values although all have their different emphases.

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  6. Interesting. The SDP seems to be creeping back onto the political radar as I’ve read and heard a few things about them over the past week or two. I can’t see myself joining them but I would definitely consider voting for them based on what I’ve read.
    We must be wary of seeing the EU just as a huge neoliberal project. It has a strong totalitarian tendency which is attractive to many of the ex-communist elites of eastern Europe which is one reason why these erstwhile communists have slipped so seamlessly from one form of totalitarianism to another, albeit without the dawn arrests and rubber truncheons (for the moment). The EU state machine is just as attractive to the left if not more so than the traditional right. Ryszard Legutko’s book, “The Demon in Democracy,” is essential reading for an understanding of this phenomenon. It is subtitled, “Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies” which tells you all you need t know.
    The far left is a greater danger to our freedoms today than the far right. Corbyn is an extremist who has consistently throughout his political career supported and encouraged left wing terror groups who are the natural enemies of the British state and people. Behind him is a well oiled machine packed full of Stalinists, Communists, Socialists and others with one thing in common – they want a bigger state and they want it more involved in every aspect of your life.
    At the moment the far right are only able to muster a few supporters for ground level street agitation, handing out leaflets and the occasional act of violence etc. They have no purchase or leverage with the main stream media or in politics in the way that Corbyn and his fellow radicals have. And it is unlikely that they will attain political power at Westminster in any meaningful numbers any time soon.
    For the past 40 or more years successive governments have been enacting legislation that can, ultimately, in the wrong hands be terribly misused. One of the weapons any extreme party in this country will have on gaining power is “Hate Crime” legislation.
    This will be used to lock up political opponents and dissenters without having to introduce new, overtly oppressive legislation.
    The first task any party, like the SDP, will face if it comes to power is how to dismantle all legislation of this kind. It will be a bit like defusing a bomb. It won’t be easy and it will not be straightforward. One of the myths the left elite has managed to create is that this legislation actually protects us. No it doesn’t. It endangers us by attacking out freedoms, silencing our voices and creating a false wall of security around those who deem themselves vulnerable or victims. Unfortunately successive well-meaning governments have been doing the extreme left’s job for them and have been paving the way for them.
    Good luck and best wishes to the SDP.

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  7. A fascinating article that made me read the party declaration. I was duly surprised and impressed and have also paid my five pound yearly membership.
    Many thanks David for giving me the recommendation.

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  8. This is a cautionary piece from across the Pond: http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/andrew-sullivan-americas-new-religions.html
    Just one snippet/abstract from a longer, more comprehensive essay –
    “So what happens when this religious rampart of the entire system is removed? I think what happens is illiberal politics. The need for meaning hasn’t gone away, but without Christianity, this yearning looks to politics for satisfaction. And religious impulses, once anchored in and tamed by Christianity, find expression in various political cults. These political manifestations of religion are new and crude, as all new cults have to be. They haven’t been experienced and refined and modeled by millennia of practice and thought. They are evolving in real time. And like almost all new cultish impulses, they demand a total and immediate commitment to save the world.”
    Andrew J Wilson introduced it as:
    “Post of the day (and perhaps the year): Andrew Sullivan on our innate need for religious meaning, and how we now seek it in politics or progress. This will get quoted by preachers for years.”
    Accordingly, the article is a gift for preachers today.

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  9. I’m with you more or less completely on this, David. Like you I’ve voted Labour, SNP, Green and SSP, although not Conservative – not yet. Sure I can’t see me voting Tory any time soon, but I’m so fed up with all of them I’m not prepared to say never. In the minds of some that makes me practically a Nazi, not leastin the minds of some ‘progressive christians’ for whom the New Testament is precisely a polictical manifesto. I’ve always insisted that there are good and decent people in all the main parties, both policians and members, and those that vote for them, but to no avail.

    On Brexit I take a pragmatic view. I’m not over enamoured with government by technocrats. But for now at least I remain grudgingly supportive of the EU. But I recall that back in 1973, it was often the Left that opposed EU membership. And Tony Benn, a polician of considerable integrity continued to oppose the EU throughout his life. I have a great deal of sympathy for his position. Of course there are still a good many leftwingers that share his view. But try to get that across and you’re immediately demonised as a racist. Because some of the far right oppose the EU, you’re de facto supporting them. You become a ‘racist enabler’. Actually it’s worse than that because some on the Left are seriously suggesting that some people – Brexiters – are too stupid to vote. And they call me a Nazi!

    The country has been torn apart by Brexit. You are either a Leaver or a Remainer; nothing else is important. You can argue whether there ought to have been a referendum in the first place but it doesn’t matter now. And you can argue over whether there ought to be another referendum. Part of me thinks perhaps there ought to be although I wonder whether it’s change anything. It’ll certainly be close so that whoever wins, half the country will feel let down. And that’s the problem: there was no decisive majority for either side. So we’re split down the middle and popular discourse on the subject is frequently marred by hatred. (Don’t even get me started on ‘hate speech’ legislation!)

    As someone whose politics have always leaned towards the left, I’m pretty sicked by the behaviour of the left leaning middle classes. No only do they demonstrate a level of viciousness towards their opponents, they come across as intensely sanctimonious. So today I’m reading a blog that lists public figures using unacceptable a racist languages about immigrants – Trump, Katie Hopkins, Tommy Robinson, and their ilk – but also Gillian Duffy, a working class OAP merely concerned, rightly or wrong, about the impact of immigration on her community. Of course Gordon Brown’s ridiculous comment sealed his fate as a former Prime Minister and it revealed the rather snotty way New Labour thought about working class people. Sadly, far too many Remainers cannot see that ‘Leave’ was partly about frustration with the existing politcal system (as was the vote for Trump) rather than a merely racist movement linked with Britain First. Few of them have the courage to talk about an albeit difficult but important issue. If they focused less on the hatred and more on the benefits that immigration can bring us, they might get somewhere.

    I find it impossible to make up my mind about which political party, if any, to allign myself with. The Tories are dominated my the wealthy and come across as arrogant and uncaring (although like the other parties, there are some hardworking and well intentioned MPs in the party). Labour has lost the plot. Corbyn is dithering on Brexit (at least the PM is trying to see it through is as equitable way as she can) and seems committed to the Marxism that finished off Labour in the ’70s. Heck, not only are there Marxists in the Labour Party, a good many in a younger Labour supports professes to be neo-Marxist. All one can say is that they know nothing of the horrors of communism. While the Greens are on the left of centre, I struggle with some of their environmental campaigns, which are often naive and unscientific. Saying that. I voted Green for the last Local Council elections. We ended up with a very good coucillor. And while I like the LibDems, or did, it’s difficult to forgive them for getting into bed with Cameron. And then there’s the SNP. Like you, I support Scottish independence but struggle with how illiberal the SNP has become. You and I do not agree on LGBT, for example, but the SNP’s ill thought out policy on ‘hate speech’ is troubling and dangerous. And they’re all exactly the same shade of SNP yellow. Incidentally, I agree that there it it inconsistent to argue for Scottish independence from Westminster yet insist strongly on membership of the EU. That said, the EU appears to be falling apart; nationalism is taking over. It leaves one wondering whether it can continue to exist for very much longer, at least in its current form.

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