Henry Porter: "Labour is about as conservative as my grandmother"

by Stephen Tall on January 31, 2009

The question of which political party might have the best claim to the title of the most progressive force in British politics has been much debated here on the pages of LDV recently – Alix Mortimer posed the question, Yes, but is it progressive?, Mark Pack enquired into the motivation of Progressive London here, and I questioned the Tories’ attempt to reclaim the word here.

In his Guardian blog today, Henry Porter surveys the progressive scene – here are his judgements:

The Tories:

It is true that Conservatives have said they will scrap both the third runway and ID cards. But I’m not so sure about creeping state power and I have yet to be convinced of the passionate liberalism stirring in the breasts of the younger men on the opposition front bench. They do not seem to react with the clear instincts of slightly older colleagues such as David Davis, Damian Green and Dominic Grieve. … I cannot, for instance, remember when George Osborne last talked about rights, liberty and privacy with anything like the spontaneity of Lib-Dems such as Chris Huhne and David Howarth. … Tories cannot yet lay claim to the progressive title because they are compromised by the desire not to be outflanked by the government on the tabloid press agenda of crime and immigration and, well, because progressive politics requires a certain boldness.

Labour:

One thing that we can all agree upon is that Labour has become a party of the establishment that – as I have pointed out before – is content to legislate on the use of plastic bags in the climate change bill but then to give the go-ahead for the new runway without allowing a debate in the Commons. Labour is about as conservative as my grandmother, and a hell of a lot less progressive and tolerant.