There are many obvious reasons to be glad that Donald Trump’s not British, not least the fact that it gives us another reasons to be dismissive of American politics and pretend ours are somehow better, but one specific one occurs to me.

Look at it this way: Donald Trump is a rich man who’s involved in politics and is known to give money to causes he supports. If he was British, he’d be free to give as much money as he likes to political parties – we can probably assume he’d be a Tory, at least initially – and wouldn’t be limited by any of those pesky donation limits that sometimes apply in American politics.

Now, one curious fact about British politics is that people who make large donations (or loans) to political parties are very often the same people who are appointed to the House of Lords. This, of course, is a total coincidence, and there’s no formal connection between being a major donor to a political party and a recipient of favours from that party. However, coincidences do occur, and any British Donald Trump could very possibly find himself becoming Baron Trump of Trumplandia. So, unlike in the US, where his attempts to achieve powerful political positions have failed because of the lack of interest from the electorate in giving him that power, here he’d likely find himself granted a powerful position for life.

So be glad he’s American, because while our House of Lords contains no end of strange people that we can’t remove from power, at least none of them are Donald Trump.

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Why you are wrong, by James Delingpole – Actually by Generic Parody, but indistinguishable from the original.
He’s Behind You – Adam Curtis looks at the story of Muammar Gaddafi.
David Miliband and the Labour art of speaking in code – John Harris on how Labour politicians are in the habit of writing lots while saying nothing. I’m quite sure I could find the samples needed for a Liberal Democrat version of this too, though. See also this post by Jamie at Blood and Treasure
A Warning about Matthew Brown – In the last Worth Reading, I linked to a story about American right-wingers backing an independent candidate for Lincolnshire’s police commissioner. The story gets weirder – and the candidate has now withdrawn from the contest – with the revelation that his campaign manager is a serial con artist and/or fantasist.
It stands to reason, skeptics can be sexist too – I’ve linked to similar pieces to this one by Rebecca Watson before, and so I wasn’t going to link to it. But then I saw some of the abuse she’s getting for it, and figured that it needs to be seen and read by as many people as possible.

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Hopi Sen has written an interesting blog post on how Labour adopting the policies desired by some of their lost voters would be a disaster for the country.

I was thinking about this issue at the weekend, after reading on the SNP voting to change their policy on whether an independent Scotland being a member of NATO. This was because regular polling showed that a majority of Scots want to remain in NATO, so the SNP’s anti-NATO policy was seen as a hindrance to the independence campaign. Leaving aside the implied assumption that the policies of a post-independence Scotland would be those of the SNP, it got me thinking on similar lines to Hopi – why is the prevailing political mood one of pandering to the electorate, rather than trying to persuade them to change their views?

The SNP’s policy shifting wasn’t an isolated incident. It’s common for just about all parties now to determine their polices on where the voters are, thus giving us a mad rush to the centre ground, rather than developing policies in line with principles and ideologies and then attempting to persuade the voters to come to them. I don’t think there was ever some golden age where politics was purely concerned with the latter – Roman politicians were often concerned with just what the populace would accept, for instance – but I’m sure the practice of politics was never quite as cynical as it is now. As I wrote a few months ago, so much of modern politics has become a big game for the participants where the important factors are winning and losing power, not what you do with that power when you get hold of it.

When the game is all that’s important, you no longer care about trying to shift the Overton window in your direction. Instead of setting out your stall and trying to convince people to come to you, you chase after them, happily shedding whatever bits of you they show any aversion to. But just because politicians have stopped trying to influence how people think, it doesn’t mean others have. The void is filled by unaccountable media organisations and shadily-funded pressure groups, gradually drawing opinions towards their favoured position, and all the time the politicos happily follow, led by the polls that tell them what to drop and what to adopt. Going back to Hopi’s post, there’s rarely any attempt to challenge these beliefs, no matter how impractical and unworkable they may be.

Some of my Liberal Democrat colleagues reading this might be feeling smug at this point, and imagining that what I’m saying doesn’t apply to us. Sorry folks, we’ve become just as bad. Maybe not quite to the extent that Richard Reeves and others have decreed as the future path for the party as a centre-right pandering machine, but I see far too many statements on the lines of ‘this policy is good, but are we sure people will like it?’ and I still smart from the last time Conference debated faith schools where several people pushed a ‘don’t do what’s right, do what won’t offend the Daily Mail’ line.

If we’re too scared to make the case for liberal policies, who will?

What I want to see is us taking the bold approach. Rather than joining the mass dash towards the centre, let’s properly make the case for liberalism and persuade people of its merits and how it would benefit them. There’s a growing number of people who don’t vote because politics doesn’t speak to them and engage them, and we do nothing to bring them back to the polling stations if we join the others in mindless pandering. It’s not a disaster if someone disagrees with you, it’s a sign of a healthy democratic process where people have different opinions and there’s some distance between them. There’s no shame in debating and arguing what’s the best way forward, in saying ‘this is my truth, tell me yours’. We should be prepared to stand up and push for radical and different policies, in an attempt to shift the perception of what’s possible. Arguing for what we think is right isn’t something we should shy away from.

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