Letter: Labour has benefited from adopting Lib Dem policies

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The Independent Online
Sir: How curious that, at a time when Labour gains from deserting rigid ideology and Conservatives divide in pursuing such, you should urge Liberal Democrats to take up an anachronistic philosophy whose tenets stand discredited by the present government (leading article, 10 June).

Liberal Democracy focuses on people and communities rather than ideology. It recognises that to govern the sophisticated modern constituency it must pursue the path of maximum consensus. Enhanced levels of general education and political awareness make judgement of issues more attractive than traditional blind faith.

Labour has caught the mood of community and consensus, thereby liberating even further an electorate too sophisticated and too hopeful to forgive fresh warring between parties that do seem close in both values and virtues. Tory targeting of the look-alike factor will not dent Liberal Democracy where the latter has built solid roots based on good local work. It will also make Labour more attractive where that party has its own local roots. Both parties of the centre-left need to examine where the best electoral prospects lie and co-operate.

To the voter the look-alike factor is an opportunity to generate stability in policy. Isolated and extremist, the modern Tory party is moribund. Its centre-right elements will find better homes in the new political consensus, where the debate about shade and emphasis of policy increasingly suit the character of the electorate. A strong centre should be welcomed as a bastion against extremism. You do us a disservice by advocating more dissension.

Yours sincerely,

MERVYN BENFORD

Shutford, Oxfordshire

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