But being a political independent doesn't sit right with me. I'm an idealist and political independence has a powerful and romantic draw. But what would it achieve? Very little I suspect. And the, serious, political alternatives just aren't really alternatives. The Conservatives have been doing a lot to appear more attractive to classical liberal sorts, but the crazy backbenchers show me all I need to see on what the party is really about. And Labour. Do I even need to spell out all of Labour's faults? I don't have the time nor the inclination. Short version: hypocrites (they don't get that when, perhaps rightly, they scream "Hypocrites" at Lib Dems they are actually being hypocrites! I'm being a hypocrite aren't I?), dreamers, warmongerers and plain old crazies. I just read the Guardian every time I start to feel like I might be getting nostalgic for old Left-Wing Jae.
So no thanks, they aren't for me. So why stay with the Lib Dems?
Loyalty is a big part of it. Tribalism, even my own honest sort, is a malignant but powerful force. But there are also all the good people I know who are members of the Lib Dems. Some of the most intelligent political thinkers with whom I have personal acquaintance tend to be in the Lib Dems (and even the ones I like outside seem to somehow end up in the party. My own bias? As if.). I've always been more interested in social issues and civil rights over economic matters so the Lib Dems social liberalism attracts me, but so does the success of their income tax allowance policy. If I imagine who I'd prefer in charge of the country out of the big three parties (don't get me started on UKIP...) then there is no confusion. A Lib Dem Government would be my choice without a shadow of a doubt.
I don't pretend there aren't major problems that I now have with the party. I'm no longer going to take party promises on face value. But they aren't anything compared to the problems I have with the other parties.
So yes. I'm a Lib Dem for another year. It'll be 10 years in the party in 2014. Scary huh?