Like others, until now I have kept my views private, sat on the fence and watched the past few weeks events unfold. I still intend to sit on that fence, but feel I should throw my two penneth of views out there…
From the outset my starting point is that I am a Liberal Democrat, because and for what we stand for. I apply that in my council roles etc. etc. that has and will not change despite the outcome and apparent divisions in the leadership contest.
I will, as others have said support whichever candidate is successful. For differing reasons I support both in equal measure (still on that fence).
As a Party we have always been a broad church and diverse in our membership. From Social Liberal on one end to Orange bookers at the other. To a certain extent that is what makes us the party we are. We all want the same goals, just have different ways of seeing those goals achieved. I suspect that somewhere in the middle is about where we should be.
I, as most of you probably have too, have read lots on whether we should get back to roots, forget the last five years, look after and protect our new membership etc. Questions on candidates stances during the term in coalition, the list goes on…
What I am interested in is where we go from here, which candidate will inspire the rebuilding of the Party as we lick our wounds and move forward. We should be under no illusion, it was well documented that as a result of entering coalition we would suffer heavy losses. We did what we did and put Country before Party. It is now time to put that aside and move on. We shouldn’t forget our achievements, far from it, as a participant in the Coalition we achieved far more of our Manifesto than we could have dreamed of and even though this wasn’t recognised by the electorate it is still on the statute books.
So what of the future?
As I said at the beginning, my starting point has to be what we stand for and how we achieve that, who can take us on this new journey and lead us on the right path, who will unite and work with both ends of the party spectrum? The answer is probably either. Both have handled the media effectively in different ways, in the past, neither is afraid of tackling the media when needed, both are approachable and contactable and will listen/respond to members at every tier.
So in my view whichever candidate is successful the winner is…
The Liberal Democrats!!
As a footnote, I would like to share an email conversation with Tim Farron during his candidacy for President in 2010, am sure he won’t mind and it takes on the point I have made above:
I feel I need to mention something that I am noticing within the Party, although I am sure you are aware it exists, and am wondering on your views.
It is clear that the Liberal Democrat’s have different factions from Orange Bookers to those whose politics is further left. I should state that I myself lean towards the OB end of the spectrum. I have heard comments stating that the OB is ‘evil’ and that Orange Bookers are a minority within the Party etc. (even some saying OB’s are Tory’s in disguise, something which I find offensive) I must say that this stance is not the norm, but does exist.
Bearing in mind that Nick Clegg, David Laws, Vince Cable and Chris Huhne all contributed to the Orange Book I find it quite disturbing that the publication can be rubbished quite so crudely.
I’m sure you will agree that the Party needs all the diverse views it has to steer a sensible route, get viable policies and that is impossible for everyone to agree on everything. Most people I speak to would just say we are all Lib Dems together, which in my view is the right way.
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.
Let the genuine debate continue and we should all realise it is just that, not personal, it is genuine debate about something we all care about. Whoever wins we are still one Party, still the Liberal Democrats…