Letter: Chance to end the culture of cover-ups

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Sir: The idea of a merger between Labour and the Liberal Democrats (Donald Macintyre, 7 March) may be driven by the Labour drive for omnipotence, but the reason it won't happen is precisely because of our very different attitudes to power, which Labour members find difficult to understand, almost touchingly so.

Uniquely, Liberals are motivated by a desire to disperse and control power. Conservatives have traditionally been happy for power to be concentrated according to wealth. The reason they lost their way is that Thatcherism concentrated power in the state, which disorientated them.

Socialists have always wanted power collectivised and centralised, usually in the state. The abandonment of that analysis leaves Labour philosophically floundering too, but its legacy is the social authoritarianism of Straw and the corruption of the local one-party state.

It is no accident that it is Liberal Democrats, not Conservatives, who are the main challengers to Labour rule in the rule-by-patronage fiefdoms such as Lambeth, Liverpool, Sheffield and Islington. We have a guiding motivation that Tories lack, which is a hatred of the concentration of power that has left poor people dependent on an inefficient and self-interested rotten borough.

When we take power in these deprived areas, our priority is to give back to people the power over their own lives which Labour has arrogated to itself. It is not tribalism that makes us oppose Labour, but a fundamental difference in our agenda.


(Liberal Democrat, Islington)

London N1