Monday, 6 August 2012

And with that, I think the Lib Dems and I may be over.

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


Robert said...

We all go though this I joined Labour in 1966 left in 2010 went to a Lib Dem meeting to be told they were hoping for a hung government and coalition, so I did not join again.

I just do not bother voting any more, mind you that because I'm disabled a scrounger and work shy

Paul Brownsey said...

I can't quite see what exactly you're disillusioned by. Do you mean the fact that they have given up, for this Parliament, on Lords reform? But the Tories had made clear it wouldn't proceed. Do you mean the fact that they will now oppose boundary changes, etc? Surely you aren't disillusioned with them for something they had no power over!



Jae Kay said...

The reason I've given up on them is that they keep telling me about all this influence and power they have yet every time anything useful comes along they say they don't have the power!

For weeks they've moaned about Tories dismissing Lords Reform as unimportant and now suddenly they do the same thing now it's not on the horizon. That I couldn't stand.

Paul Brownsey said...

They haven't dismissed it as unimportant, have they? And what else could they do but not plough ahead with it for now?

I do not say that as a fervent LibDem partisan, for I have not forgiven the broken promise over tuition fees and the subsequent dishonest pretence that that was merely a manifesto commitment and in a coalition you can't implement everything in your manifesto. The promise to vote against tuition fees was given separately from the manifesto and unconditionally; no terms & conditions about 'if we form a government'.

Jae Kay said...

Nick Clegg says it in a nice way

"My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I remain focused on the urgent task that brought the Coalition together: rescuing, repairing and rebalancing our economy.

And, just as we are determined that this Government delivers economic reform, we are determined to deliver social renewal too.

There are many things that brought me into politics. Many things which animate my party: political reform is one. A fairer tax system is another. Internationalism. The environment. Civil liberties.

But the thing I care about most - the central purpose of the Liberal Democrats in this government - is to build a fairer society. A more socially mobile society, where a person's opportunities do not depend on the circumstances of their birth, where every individual has the chance to flourish."

Other Lib Dems online, being ever loyal partisans, have been more forthright.

Stephen Glenn said...

The issue surely is the Cameron is unable to deliver his back bench to bring about the things we agreed about. It is a matter of the Conservatives not being trusted that is the issue not that the Lib Dems have failed to deliver.

We have voted for things in the agreement that we as Lib Dems have been uncomfortable about because we were staying true to that agreement. After this though as the Conservatives are reneging on that contract they are in for a very tough time because I know that Lib Dems up and down the country will be crying out to leave them to it, as a minority administration trapped until 2015 if they continue to be unable to control their back bench.

Cameron has just shown that he is a failure as a leader. So in 2 years time (if not before) he will no longer be PM.

Anonymous said...

if you think HOL reform is the most important issue then that's your view, but from a tory voting pov i respect the lib dems for the tax changes they've delivered and even though i disagree with clegg and co on europe and other issues they've definitely done a lot of good in government. things like taking the poorest (ppl like me!) out of tax and the pupil premium are so much more important than HOL reform. changing lives vs changing who sits in the lords? no contest imo

Johnston said...

I share Paul Brownsey's puzzlement about what it is you're disillusioned by.

Do you really think that the Lib Dems in Government have that much power over what the far right Tories say and do?
It's just politics and I myself think that, for a party that is outnumbered in the coalition to the extent that we are, they're doing pretty well.

They may have made a few mistakes about what is achievable and what is not, but when I think about the nightmare of what the Tories would be doing if they'd got in on their own six months later at a second election I am very glad we bit the bullet and put our necks on the line (a rather confusing mixed metaphor but you know what I mean).

You also don't make clear what Nick Clegg said in a nice way that upset you?