This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chandila, Liberal Vision & the LD Presidency

One vital criteria that I believe is important for the postholder of Lib Dem President is ideally that someone should be respected across the party, politically and geographically, and have the ability to be the bridge that brings together the voluntary party and it's senior elected parliamentarians.

Chandila Fernando says many things including the downgrading of party membership in favour of creating party 'supporters'. The US parties already have such 'fan clubs'. Their role is limited to being hired hands at conventions, leaving decision making and policy to the 'great and the good'. This is not a model I can accept for the Lib Dems. Chandila might have experienced this kind of 'engagement' whilst in the Tory party, but this is not how the Lib Dems do things.

His personal hobby horse, Liberal Vision [LV], is an 'interesting' organisation, with Chandila as Director and Mark Littlewood as Chairman(sic). Neiher of these people are elected to these positions by anyone. Indeed on Liberal Vision's FAQ page is the following : "It is an unincorporated association which is run as a “benign dictatorship”. If you expect internal democratic elections, AGMs, committee meetings and minute taking, this may not be the organisation for you." Being a democrat I am instinctively wedded to democratic mandates for officers, that goes hand in hand with membership of an organisation.

Linda Jack asked and Chandila answered : As someone more on the “left” of the party, why should I vote for you? I have in my heart the passion of an activist and the courage of a lion to take on the establishment." What he ought to have said is that I'm a uber-libertarian far removed from the ideas you hold Linda ! It is worth looking at LV. They are a wholly owned susidiary of Progressive Vision, whose politics and ethos are uncannily more akin to those of another party - the UK Liberttarian Party - than the values, practices and policy positions of the Liberal Democrats.

What I am not saying is that such people should be 'banned' from the party. As a liberal, even a 'left wing' one, I am instinctively against banning things or people. Libertarians bring a differing perspective to the party. Many are long-term committed Liberal Democrats and long may that be so, no matter how much I heartily disagree with them. However, uber-libertarians, such as Gavin Webb, surely would find the UKLP far closer to their strident libertarian outlook ?

You may say that the President is a party figure head and non-political. But that person has a key role [and vote] on the Federal Executive, therefore personal political positions are of some importance. Clearly Chandila is ambitious, but his proposals for limiting the usefulness of party membership and the lack of a democratic structure in the organ he does run mean for me he is entirely unsuitable to be LD President.

He might 'overlook' his politics in running for election. I do not. Why be so shy about your libertarian credentials Chandila ? Further, Chandila is said to have left the Tories when Michael Howard came to the Conservative leadership. Presumably then he had no quarrel with Hague, IDS and Major ? None of these are paragons of liberal virtue. Be honest Chandila, tell us what you are about ?!

I may stand corrected, but it is hardly inspiring to know that even his LV colleague, Mark Littlewood, is voting elsewhere ! The poor quality website, the divisive politics, the re-branding marketing speak all show clearly that Chandila is not the man for the job. So who am I voting for ? It'll be a vote for Ros Scott, a safer mainstream option, with a good track record in the party. That may not sound overly exciting, but after it's fair share of upheaval at the top of the party in recent times a unifying figure I think would be the best choice.

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Blogger Tristan said...

Point 1) Learn what libertarianism is before spouting off about it.
Chandila is hardly an uber-libertarian, he's a classical liberal from what I can see.

Point 2) Some of us feel that the Liberal Democrats are best placed to move towards a free society, which is why we're members - despite the best efforts of so called 'lefties' and 'liberals' in the party.
The Liberal Party had a long tradition of welcoming people from across the broader liberal spectrum, including anarchists and libertarians. It is only relatively recently that it became a much more statist party falling into the trap of left wing statism (as opposed to left wing liberalism - the tradition I feel I broadly belong to)
The Libertarian Party is not placed to offer much to many of us and certainly does not fit in with my aims (which are not to turn the LibDems into a libertarian party - I have some concept of reality ;) )

Point 3) Why should a private organisation be forced to submit itself to your ideals? Liberal Vision can be run as those who founded it like. You're just bitching at it becaue its 'right wing' and 'scary'.
What group which is just starting out has the luxury of 'democracy' anyway? Unless its founded by the powers that be...
Please criticise them based on substance, that is far more productive, from all our points of view (and there are even places I think we might agree with our criticisms of them).

May I just say, since you see fit to recommend others go to other parties, you sound like -a social democrat rather than a liberal - why not go and join one of the socialist parties? (Probably because you have your reasons to be a LibDem - you feel its the best party for you? Correct? In which case good, but please remember that people with differing views can feel the same way).

Just to make this clear - I am not affiliated with LV/PV (although I have met Mark and Shane (from PV) and find them to be nice guys). I have not decided who to vote for in this election, I am honestly undecided, although I lean towards Roz and away from Lembit, with Chandila an unknown quantity.

7:04 pm BST

Blogger Barrie Wood said...


I stand by my point that the LV / PV outlook seems to have more commonalities with the UKLP than with mainstream Lib Dem opinion.

When I say that I have no wish to close off the party to minority points of view you did come to mind. Divergent perspectives can inform and enhance a party and I'd be disappointed if a broad spectrum of 'liberal' opinion were not contained within the party. That it can include you and I is part of its genius.

LV itself, of course, isn't accountable to me. However, it's self-appointed 'Director' is putting himself forward for the party presidency and is promoting ideas to limit the role of the membership and seems to prefer 'supporters' and a 'fan club' scenario, to particapatory membership. So it is surely within bounds to examine his political record, democratic credentials and actions to date. Further, more people have an idea where Ros and Lembit stand politically, so it can only be a good thing that Chandila's politics get an airing, as they have been pretty well concealed in the debate so far.

Hmm...Tristan your terse tone says that as a social democrat I should join a socialist party. So you've decided I'm a social democrat. It's so good of you to define my political identify for me !

Moreover if I actually defined myself as a socialist I'd join a **socialist** and not a social democratic party. Further, like it or not, the Lib Dems are not a pure Liberal party, the LDs came about through merger with social democrats, as you well know. They have a role to play too, as do social liberals like me, influenced by the likes of Keynes, Beveridge, Asquith, Lloyd George et al. Furthermore, my politics have been further influenced by my former role as a community educator / community education worker. Here I've sought to help empower others, impart knowledge, to support grass roots initiatives. LETS schemes, time banks, credit unions, co-ops and mutuals with democratic and participatory methods are the kind of things that excite me. That is, in short, people taking power and having a sense of ownership over their own lives. This isn't quite the illiberal statist you might like to imagine I am. Conversely, that I am a critic of unregulated laissez faire capitalism pretty much puts me in the mainstream right now !

As for bitching about LV because as you say they're 'right wing' and
'scary', well this blog address is
! Quelle surprise. I know too the mention of the term 'left' usually elicits a response from you ;-)

Finally, I am interested to hear what constitutes your self-described 'left wing liberalism, without having to read your entire blog, being the lazy contrarian that I am.

9:09 pm BST

Blogger Duncan Borrowman said...

Tristan. Learn what classical liberalism is before spouting off about it.

10:50 pm BST


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