Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A statement about my membership of the Liberal Democrats

Every now and again, it happens. You'll hear about it, because it's the thing that gets the headlines. First you'll hear the rumours, that they're about to go, then maybe something on Twitter, and then, shortly after, a blog post about the turmoil, and the difficulty and the stress - and the decision.

Leaving the Liberal Democrats has become such an event, I'm surprised that Elton John isn't throwing an after party and we aren't all getting giftbags.

I write about it with humour, but I need to be honest, I don't find the whole shtick funny. It makes me angry, and the reason that I'm writing about it here, is because I feel the need in some sense to cut through the BS.

So, here are my three top tips if you're planning on leaving the party.

Firstly, something needs to be said about making a departing statement. Congressmen make statements when they're resigning due to sexual misdemeanours. Tony Blair made a statement telling folks he didn't want to be Prime Minister any more. If I decided to leave the LibDems, unless I'd developed a particularly inflated view of my own importance, I probably wouldn't feel the need to make a statement. There's something that turns my stomach slightly, about these 'oh, it was such a hard decision' postings, because, if it was that difficult a decision, you wouldn't publicise it to such an extent that it becomes a direct slap in the face. There's something very strange indeed about making a personal decision based on personal beliefs and then plastering it across the internet.

Secondly, don't expect my sympathy if you join Labour. So many of our departed friends have left the Liberal Democrats to join the Labour Party, because, well, the LibDems have lost their heart, the party isn't democratic, there have been too many broken promises. Don't make me laugh.
A person who leaves the Liberal Democrats for moral reasons doesn't join the same party that took us into an illegal war, that is still being fought and the cost still being counted.
A person who leaves the Liberal Democrats because our members aren't listened to will have a great time at the next Labour Party conference, as long as they're happy to sit, smiling in the back of shot and then tell journalists what a great Prime Minister Ed Miliband will make. A person who leaves the Liberal Democrats because we've broken too many manifesto pledges will enjoy explaining to people in Labour controlled areas why their Library is closing despite promises to protect services, and why the Library in the neighbouring LibDem authority will remain open. Join Labour, if that's what you want to do, but it's best not to start off by lying to yourself.

The third thing, is that if you're leaving, don't pretend to care about the people you're leaving behind. I've read enough 'with a heavy hearts' and 'whilst it isn't easy's to last me a lifetime. If you actually, in your heart of hearts, cared about the future of the Liberal Democrats and the liberal cause, creating a public furore about your departure is a pretty odd way to show it. In so many cases, these people are trying to have their cake and eat it. It's a case of 'I'm leaving you, and doing a hatchet job, but I'm nice and I care really'. No. People who care about the Liberal Democrats are Liberal Democrats. People who care about this party, are the ones who read the posts about people leaving, then go out and deliver leaflets in the snow to help progress the cause. People who care about the Liberal Democrats stick with us, through gritted teeth, perhaps, because there will be a post-coalition party that needs good, moral, people to shape it and support it.

So, here's my statement regarding my membership of the Liberal Democrats. I'm staying. Now let's see how many column inches that one gets.

Follow Sam on Twitter - @SamPhripp


  1. I do agree. Whenever I make a hard decision, I tend to need to keep quiet about it for a few months until I'm less upset.... But then, each to their own I suppose...

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Caron. This post makes me feel a bit like Delia Smith standing in the middle of the pitch, hollering 'LETS BE AVIN YOU...' in an ungainly fashion.

  3. Me and you both then Sam.

  4. I agree with Sam!

    People leave and then after their 15 mins of fame the rest of us have to pick up the pieces. They have issues with the leaderships, with decisions on certain policies and think the grass is greener elsewhere. If you leave the party then you can't change things in the party. What on earth is the point in leaving - to do nothing and create more work for others? Thanks for that! Not!

    I agree about Labour. People who join them will get an awful shock. If they don't like our leader making decisions within the coalition where he has to compromise and say he doesn't listen, then how will they like being dictated to by a Labour leader with absolutely no say in any matters themselves? How is that better?

    I won't be leaving the Lib Dems, because you have the chance to do much good from within. If I hadn't been a member I couldn't have had the help I got on my campaign against shares for rights. Ok we didn't get rid of it, but we got it to a stage where it's as good as dead cos there's so much red tape and expense in it now that an employer would be insane to take it up.

    And what people have to remember is that we are in Coalition. We have to compromise. I could have left over shares for rights. But why leave over a single issue when there is so much else to be done. I do not envy Nick Clegg his position. He gets all the flak and seemingly none of the praise.

    We're a stronger party together, united behind Nick, whilst the Tories tear themselves apart from the inside and Labour are all at sea without a rudder or a compass.

    1. This comment just about sums up why you're one of my fav LibDems Tracy!

  5. Well said. Liberal Democrats are in it for the long run. We have learned to take the ups and the downs and we stick to our guiding principles - and I mean principles not dogma.

    When I were a lad we had a mere handful of MP's and in the past fifty years we have increased that tenfold. And we punch above our weight because of our principles. It's a funny thing but when we are committed to doing the right thing people come towards us.

  6. An excellent post, Sam.

    You echo my thoughts exactly. I'm sure the people that declare with glee that "I'll never trust the Lib Dems again" (and get about 20 Facebook 'likes' by posting a status with words to that effect, and feel justified for it) were the same or similar people to those who pledged never to vote Labour again after the Iraq War. It's a vicious cycle, and whilst we've had to compromise in some uneasy areas, I wish people would sometimes look above the tribal aspects and see that the Lib Dems can't do a Gordon Brown and "save the world".

  7. "...because there will be a post-coalition party that needs good, moral, people to shape it and support it."
    This sentence is pretty much why I'm still a Lib Dem member.

    1. You and me both - that and the fact that we're wildly popular and everyone loves us of course...

  8. Agreed. It's not easy being a Liberal Democrat at the moment, but there's no other party I'd rather be part of. I'm keeping on keeping on - and so are many others.

    1. I have to admit, all those folks leaving makes me more intransigent about still being a member! Ha!

  9. Your party is part of a coalition laying waste to the social fabric of this country. It has enabled an unprecedented attack on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. It is waging war on the sick and disabled. It supported and voted through a bill that serves to dismember and denude the NHS. It boasts of the pupil premium whilst averting its eyes from the myriad malignant reforms enacted by Gove. Your party sold students down the river by flagrantly abandoning an allegedly cast-iron pre-election pledge. Of course people are leaving the party, of course your electoral support is evaporating: the party deserves nothing less than oblivion.

    You cite Labour's obvious flaws, not unreasonably, and the illegal war (because of course there has been a step change in British foreign policy thanks to the Liberal Democrats, oh wait); albeit one started by a discredited premier twice replaced and begun a decade ago, as though that should militate against opposing your party's actions in coalition now. It does not.

    You also fail to understand why you are held to higher standards than the other two major parties and why people are so very angry: your party spent two decades telling all and sundry that it was better, purer, the Pollyanna of parties that held itself to higher standards. This was demonstrably an utter sham and part of the vituperativeness the party is now subject to is as a result of its own breathtaking hypocrisy.

    Let me be blunt, you do not get to lecture and hector on morality in the circumstances. You write of this coalition as though it is some minor inconvenience to be endured, it is not, it is wholly repugnant and you support it; cynically and myopically it would seem. It is also your party's first spell in government in the post-war era, it should serve as an epitaph. I am glad you care for your party, the rest of us care about our society.

    1. Wow! So much anger. And I guess some of it is merited. Tuition fees was a bad mistake for a start.

      But what's all this nonsense about "the Pollyanna of parties"? Every party has had it's disappointments in its members. Tories bait me about Rinka the Dog and I remind them of Profumo. The difference is not in being morally superior but in how one responds to being let down by people from whom we expected better. Take Chris Huhne for example: in my opinion he deserves no sympathy. He did the crime and he does the time. That's the way its supposed to work for every man and always should.

      But you are right about one thing. The coalition is not some minor inconvenience. It is in fact a massive inconvenience to the far right of the Tory party who can regularly be found fulminating about the way Liberal Democrats are successfully blocking their more extreme ideas. And while we are on the subject of massive inconveniences the budget deficit that we have to deal with is the daddy of them all. Labour would have had to deal with it too and for every £9 of cuts that the coalition has made Labour would have made £8. That deficit has built up over decades of left / right government and turned to disaster under Labour because of lax governance and a failure to keep to the basics of good economic management.

      Politics is about reality as well as dreaming of a better future. Keep dreaming by all means but right now only the comatose can fail to grasp the mess that we have been and urgently need to fix.