I am relatively new to “active” politics, political blogging and although I have voted LD for many years, have only been a member for 15 months. I have never been to conference and hence my ramblings below are very much my simplistic view from what I read and see.
Since last weeks (sort of) publicised debate at conference about the NHS, whether it was the right debate is in itself debatable, I have read and seen many members decide to withdraw their membership and some their allegiance because of the direction the Party is taking.
There are others within the Party who feel that it is moving away from it’s Liberal roots, despite around 75% of the last General Elections manifesto being in the Coalition Agreement.
So where does this leave me, the newby (technically)?
When I decided to become a member of LD Party, I did so knowing it was a broad church, with many facets and wings. To me that hasn’t changed, we still have those diverse views within the Party. I once asked Tim Farron for his view on splits in the Party and Orange bookers, here is his reply:
There has been a lot of silly talk about the Orange Book. A healthy party has internal debate and the Orange Book has served to stimulate new thinking on policy and encourage those who don’t agree with it to articulate their beliefs more clearly.
Anyone who has joined the Liberal Democrats from another Party tells us how amazed they are about the level of genuine debate. Long may it last.
That hasn’t changed (quote from Nov 2010), we are still that Party.
Yes there have had to be VERY uncomfortable sacrifices as part of the Coalition Government, which are too much for some to bear and they decide to leave, which I respect and understand (but not agree with, sorry), but at the grass roots we are still that Liberal Democratic Party and what it stands for.
Come the next General Election if we take the beating that some in visage probably because of ‘uncomfortable’ policies have been blamed on us for not stopping the Tories (much of which would have been impossible given our share in the Coalition, but yes I know it’s voters impression), we will survive, we will rise to fight again with our principles and during the term of the government will have made some difference, however small, but still more than we would from the opposite benches.
Where that leaves me then, is still in the Party that is best for me, holds views that I believe in (not all, that IS impossible) and despite the odds, that have stacked against us since before I was old enough to vote, I will be there when we fight our corner for beliefs we STILL have:
The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty equality and community and in which none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity
Within the Party we all have different ideas how to achieve those aims but we ARE Liberal Democrats.