I'll admit that in my youth I was a bit of a philanderer with regards to my choice of political party. At 13, in the midst of the 1997 election I declared myself a Tory like my forefathers before me. But, as I learnt about the multitude of evils (i.e. MPs) within that party, I soon came under the delusion that Tony Blair and his New Labour project was the way forward. The momentum of this forward motion sadly propelled us into war. Not being an utterly heartless, warmongering bastard I decided New Labour was no longer the place for me. And thus, by a process of elimination and a brief flirt with Caroline Lucas and the Greens, I found myself wondering what the Lib Dems were all about.
My first recon mission introduced me to some local Shepway Lib Dems who were everything I'd been looking for. First Peter Carroll and then, eventually, people like Lynne Beaumont and Tim Prater (among many others!) seemed to me to be intelligent, caring and extremely hard-working people. The sort of people one would want to aspire to be like. And those first impressions remain to this day. They truly are amazing people.
Then came the policies. And I found them rather sensible. I liked their love of freedom and my, still recovering, New Labour self liked the fact they were rather generous towards those in need.
I won't pretend to be the most dedicated Lib Dem ever (Lazy is my middle name) but since about 2003 I have been completely loyal to them. As I found my political beliefs move from social democrat through to classical liberal, I found the Lib Dems were a broad enough church to still keep me in it.
Despite the fact that I learnt, as a political gay teenager, that the Tories aren't just to be treated warily but should be actively disliked I've stayed through the Coalition. Some of the things, especially the Income Tax allowance changes, have been amazing Lib Dem wins. Other things have been uncomfortable but I've stuck them out thinking that eventually there would be a prize worthy of my beloved party's destruction.
It's funny really, I always thought my disillusionment with the Lib Dems would come over some matter of individual rights, sexuality or internet freedom, something which would really get me angry. I never thought that the straw that would break the camel's back would be Lords Reform.
It may well be better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. It may well be we did the right thing in putting national interest ahead of party interest. But in doing so the Lib Dems have lost our soul and, a minor consideration I know, broken my heart.
Now I am totally aware of my previous pledges of loyalty to the Lib Dems over their support of my heart's desire, marriage equality. I shall honour those pledges but not in the spirit they were intended. I shan't resign as a member, I shall pay my dues. I owe the party that much. But I am no longer a Lib Dem at heart or maybe I am but the party isn't. Either way, we're definitely separated and I'm simply paying maintenance.
If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist