Do we all have our own political U-turns?

by Charlie_East_West on May 23, 2013


In 1980, Margaret Thatcher famously said: “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.”

It was a landmark moment for Margaret Thatcher as she publicly rejected calls to perform a political u-turn on her economic policy.

Yet, here we are in 2013, and after years of our politicians adopting various forms of political policy u-turns, we are still not getting any full admission of any flip flopping on policy. It is all dressed up as a slight of hand manipulation, rather than the honest truth.

I am sick and tired of the tribal, blinkered, one-view-fits-all ideological debate within politics in this country. I hate all of the macho bravado involved in never backing down. What is wrong with a politician or individual making a point of stopping to pause, listen and reflect – and remain open to persuasion on a potentially more enlightened viewpoint? I just wish George Osborne would adopt such an approach towards his economic policy. But, I suspect my wish will remain unrequited.

This also applies outside the political bubble of Westminster. It applies to all of us. Are we ready to admit any political u-turns of our own?

I can openly admit that I was wrong about preferring Britain’s entry into a single European currency. Which, as events have recently proved, would have been a complete disaster. I have also committed a volte-face over Scottish Independence. I have moved from pro Union towards a pragmatic acceptance of the merits of Scottish Independence – as previously unveiled in my recent postings on All That’s Left.

The u-turn does come with a caveat. It must be used sparingly, and with care. To commit constant political u-turns will just make the individual or party in question look like a lightweight, a political spiv, or whisper it….a Lib Dem.

The dangers of the u-turn were shown in John Major’s exit of the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992. It was a shambles that his government never recovered from, and eventually led to the Labour landslide at the 1997 election. Gordon Brown’s dithering on an early general election in 2007 also left him open to accusations of flip-flop manoeuvring. In both cases, the trust was lost.

In contrast, Thatcher and Blair were portrayed as strong, decisive leaders – but with disastrous consequences such as the Poll Tax and Iraq.

So then, can everyone put their hands up and admit to their own political u-turning? Like me, you might find the whole process a cathartic experience.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

George_East May 23, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Liberal interventionism. Iraq changed everything.


Robert the cripple May 25, 2013 at 8:20 am

Sadly after voting Labour for to many years, for being a party member for just as many, I decided to give up voting , like many I for the life of me cannot see the difference between Blair, Miliband Cameron or Cleggie.

I’m on the side of the people who sit at home now.


Mike Killingworth May 26, 2013 at 7:26 am

You could always vote Green, Robert.

Until they become like all the others, that is.


Ray_North May 26, 2013 at 8:07 am

Rob, I sympathize, the frustrating thing about miliband is that he does recognizes the structural problems that accompany modern capitalism – but is reticent about doing anything that would really change things – but, at least he recognizes the problem which is different to clegg who doesn’t and Cameron who helped bring about the problems in the first place.


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