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.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye to the Lib Dems and LD Blogs

Last week I tendered my resignation from the party and, ergo, this means I need to remove myself from LD blogs too. This doesn't necessarily mean being active in a party political sense elsewhere.

During the recent European elections I voted Green. In short their radical environmental and social justice agenda sat better with me than the Liberal alternative. I was, and remain, firmly left-of-centre in my political outlook. I am influenced by a mixture of red / green / liberal thought. What I am not, is an economical liberal.

Upon arriving in Torbay I initially voted LD to 'keep the Tories out' here, but this was helped by having an excellent Lib Dem MP (Adrian Sanders) and a party who have offered a range of policies attractive to someone tribally Labour leaning previously. These have included the Iraq war position, 1p on tax for education, supporting a 50p tax rate to help revitalise public services, support for constitutional reform, awareness of the importance of our environment and a passionate commitment to civil liberties. How prescient the latter has proven to be under an authoritarian NuLab regime. My past professional experience as a community development worker and with it the desire to diffuse power and disseminate knowledge, clearly means that the decentalist philosophy of Liberalism is an attractive creed.

I joined the Lib Dems about four to five years ago. I have been able to fit in mostly with the local party and there are many good people within it's activist / councillor base. I even stood disastrously for the party at the last local elections in 2005.

Lib Dems boast of their democratic conference. Well it's true to a point but don't kid yourselves Lib Dems ! I went as a representative from Torbay to the 2008 Autumn Conference in Bournemouth. Am I supposed to be impressed by the 'sofa chats' instead of debates, the COG discussion without members being given a vote (for example) ? Whilst I don't fetischise rebellion, the 'tax debate' and the wheeling out of the great and the good, especially of the likes of Farron and Hughes to support the leadership view, was reminiscent of NuLab style political fixing.

Many other debates saw the wannabe politicial class at the podium time after time. Councillors and PPC's by the score being 'showcased'. How different is that from the bigger two parties.

It is seems like quite some time since conformist conference actually voted down a leadership supported position. It's a long way from the vigorous debates of Liberal Assembly of yore. As it is, positions adopted in recent times such as the badly presented £20bn cuts in public spending, the removal of the policy on the 50% top tax rate, the putative part-privatisation of the PO, the bizzare position taken initially on Trident, as well as inching towards a more economically liberal tone, have all alienated me. The increasing presence of the (from my point of view) the loony libertarian fringe only heightens my disquiet. Tristan Mills of the Liberty Alone sums up this headbanging tendency, with his 'NHS is oppressive' line. Try that one out on Torbay doorsteps Tristan ! It could a contender for the shortest political suicide note in history.

Worse still. as evidenced from debates / online discussion of church schools and their character illustrated how illiberal some Liberals can be. The unpleasant invective and bile from Laurence Boyle typifying this. I suspect there will be another challenge to the status of church schools again in the coming years.

With regard to public services I don't support moves to a so-called 'choice' agenda. In schools and hospitals what people want is a well resourced public services as close to their locality as possible. In the provision of most everyday goods and services the market works well, but I baulk at the profit motive in delivering much of our public service provision.

Even where the market has demonstrably failed, such as the services provided by rail franchise holders, are the Lib Dems calling for public ownership ? Sadly no. The party of the environment ? Well, better than the big two, but Lib Dem policy pronouncements are marred by inconsistencies and they have a tendency to say one thing at national level and do something else at local level. The Green Party gives the following examples :

"For example, Norman Baker LibDem Transport Spokesman has been saying a LibDem government would stop spending on road building; but his colleagues in Lancashire are still supporting the Lancaster Northern bypass."

"The LibDems have spoken in favour of congestion charging nationally, but against it in Edinburgh, Manchester and York."

"They want a zero carbon economy by 2050 - in principle. But they have opposed windfarm proposals in Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon and Worcestershire."

"The LibDems have opposed the expansion of Heathrow, but have been happy to expand Birmingham, Carlisle, Exeter, Liverpool and Norwich airports. They were wildly enthusiastic about Manchester airport's second runway - except for the LibDems in Stockport, which lies under the flightpath.

Before anyone jumps in, yes I know the Greens in Ireland, in coalition with Fianna Fail, have agreed to things no Green party ever should. I'm sure in some local authorities, such as Leeds in the past, there may be some interestung tales to tell too. So, I'm not going easy on them either !

Locally, and this may not be typical, the LD party seems pragmatic and strangely largely unideological. As well as shoring up the long-established Liberal core vote, there is always a pitch to Labour supporters to 'lend their vote' and to 'keep the Tories' out in the bay. But I know in some northern seats the emphasis, when challenging in Labour held marginals, is somewhat different. Without a firmer ideological anchor the inconsistencies in Lib Dem approaches will continue to bedevil the party.

Of course, the Euro elections have just concluded. The Lib Dem message of Europhilia is strange to understand. LD's call for democratisation at Westminster and decentralising of decision making to localities, yet conversely are hugely enthusiastic about an undemocratic institution that takes power further away from the people impacted by decisions made there. Worse still, in recent years, 'failed' UK politicians like Kinnock, Mandelson and Patten have had huge levels of power and influence, without any kind of electoral mandate. That institution is, of course, the European Union. I;m not a fervent withdrawalist. I'm internationalist minded. I can't, however, share Lib Dem enthusiasm for the illiberal EU. The EU 'critical' stance of the Greens has much greater resonance with me.

More recently, whilst approving of the shift on Trident made by Nick Clegg, is it for reasons of political and financial expediency, or a heartfelt change of opinion ? With a large minority of Green Liberal Democrats members in a survey last year (I think) stating that nuclear power may need to be utilised to meet our energy needs, it seems that to stay in the party might mean further 'trimming' and 'adapting' too many of my own views in order to support the party. When you start to notice these things more and more, then clearly there is a problem. I don't want to 'trim' any further !

Whilst in the Lib Dems I've put on the back burner ideas like actually challenging the limits of economic growth, looking at localising economies, the promotion of mutuals and co-ops, pushing for a strengthening of trade union rights, looking at radical changes to our work / life balance and areas like a universal Citizen's / Basic Income schemes. In a time of increasing unemployment and financial challenges, why am I not hearing more from the Lib Dems about LETS schemes, credit unions, time banks and local currencies ? If I've missed something please do tell me !

To conclude I now feel free to join the wider green left family. At present without being actively aligned to any party I have political freedom. That this is in tandem without any obligation to deliver any more inane Focus leaflets ia a major bonus !! Now also seems right to step aside as the candidate approvals panel will soon vet putative Torbay Council Lib Dem councillors. I was unsuccessful last time. In 2011, in the face of a much reviled local administration aqnd the prospect of probably being one year into a Tory government, the chances of Lib Dem electoral successes will be much higher. It is better to resign now with integrity than to seek personal political advancement under a banner I no longer feel so comfortable with. If only the libertarian fringe would do likewise, but that's another story. I shall follow the Lib Dems progress with interest. Under Clegg I fear you'll just tread water. With Labour having jettisoned progressive politics, there is a huge political space to fill. Modest centrism is not the answer. well not for me at least !

Labels:

41 Comments:

Blogger neil craig said...

What on earth is "red/green/liberalism"? hese are 3 disticnt political philosophies. The first is about putting class interests above individual ones & enhancing the power of the state, the 2nd is about increasing state power for opposing progress & ultimately reinventing the Middle Ages, the 3rd is about defending individual freedom against those who use the state to dictate to us.

It is simply impossible to hold all 3 views simultaneously. The first 2 have a certain amount in common, if you only think about means rather than ends.

4:35 pm BST

 
Blogger Tristan said...

Even where the market has demonstrably failed, such as the services provided by rail franchise holders,

Market? Really? Where?
Okay, so a distorted, rigged market perhaps. The very existence of a franchise shows this _IS NOT A FREE MARKET_
It is disingenuous to claim that 'the market' has failed when we have a government failure.

As for choice - you assert what people want, why not let them have the choice? Or may they choose something else?

Admittedly, allowing a restricted choice (the policy of so called libertarians on the right and technocratic socialists) is not going to be effective and cannot really be called a free choice, but to stand against choice on principle is to stand against freedom and liberty.

I urge you to look to the libertarian left instead of the authoritarian left for answers. The freed market is the ultimate in democracy and liberty and would be a great leveller - the very reason corporate leaders subverted liberalism in the US to progressivism and corporate liberalism. Its the reason Thatcher strengthened corporations and parts of the welfare state and introduced the national curriculum.

5:02 pm BST

 
Blogger Tristan said...

Neil:

I would defend that its possible to be red, green and liberal, but not in the meanings you give.

Red can mean libertarian socialism (Proudhon, Tucker, market socialists etc) - that is workers owning the means of production, but not community control.
Freed market environmentalism is also not a contradiction, and in my opinion far more effective (it is state action which has promoted most environmentally destructive actions).

Liberalism as an individualist creed fits in with these two.

5:06 pm BST

 
Blogger Barrie Wood said...

I may have put in inelegantly, but my thrust was that I am **influenced** by aspects of red / green / liberal thought. Your characterisation of red / green thought is not one I wholly share.

From the socialist and social democratic tradition I share the historic mission of creating a society that fosters not only enhanced life opportunities for all, but actively seeks a more cohesive and equitable society. This often results in collectivist action, but need not be statist. You can, as you fail to note, meet individual need through collective responses, although not always naturally.

From the liberal tradition, the critique of 'top-down' social democracy, Toynbeeism if you like is quite instructive. The need to protect and enhance individual freedom has never been more vital under this most authoritarian government viz detention without trial, ID card proposals, expansion of CCTV society and internet monitoring amongst other things. Social liberals rightly argue that you can have no meaningful freedom or possibilities for social mobility, if you are poorly educated, live in sub-standard housing, experience poverty or poor health. Hence the turn of the last century liberals proved to be one of the most radical reforming UK governments. In outlook, if not means there is some overlap between them and the early Labour party. This view is, in part, printed on current Lib Dem membership cards. It is true, that it is the miniscule continuing Liberal party represents this more radical social liberal perspective today than the soggy centrist Lib Dems.

In terms of practice, especially in terms of devolving power and empowering local communities and economies, there is some overlap between liberal and green thought. The Greens take a holistic view centred upon the environment with a strong social justice theme to their politics. Yes at times their influence is akin to a pressure group. The commitment to greater equality is like that once held by Labour, but the localist agenda is closer to that of the Lib Dems.

I am not a classical liberal so, of course, I don't agree with your analysis. I loosely describe my politics as being of the 'democratic left' as some of the other labels one could use can be exclusive and limit dialogue.

Finally my own view is that collective action can achieve just goals, but one must be ever vigilant that minority / individual aspirations are not trampled on. Liberalism has made me much more wary of the state, especially as it impacts on everyday lifestyle issues. Being exhorted not to drink this, smoke that, eat the other is wearisome. Being exhorted to attend this check up or that treatment or making moral judgements on what people do in their own bedrooms, is where I depart from the authoritarians. The Greens ask questions, some solutions are fanciful, the major parties are questioning very little. Soggy centrism isn't for me.

5:34 pm BST

 
Blogger neil craig said...

I don't think many liberals would disagree about the need for good eductional opportunities, nor for a safety net level of housing. owever I don't think anybody could argue that our top down educational system provides better results than the more liberal voucher scheme which puts individual choice at the top. Again with 75% of housing costs being government regualtion it is difficult to argue that a "red" let alone "green" housing policy is intended to provide housingb opportunities. It is also undisputable that council housing has greatly limited physical mobility & that decades of socialism have reduced social mobility.

The misunderstanding is that you admit you are not a traditional liberal & feel that the word can have some meaning if it is used to cover some very different philosophy. I know this is a common feeling but a little thought shows that it must be wrong. Perhaps the party could just change its name to the Red/Green/Pro-War Alliance & everybody could be happy.

5:53 pm BST

 
Blogger Jock Coats said...

Whilst it is completely your call of course Barrie to eschew the Lib Dems as a general observation of people who join the party "from the left" shall I say it seems very sad to me that they do not recognize that the workers movement and the liberal governments of early in teh 20th century and the 19th were bound as one with the ideology of free trade.

Tristan has already cited Tucker and Proudhon, the latter of whom could not have been more concerned about the fate of the workers and the least well off. Indeed his mutualism was only deepened and entrenched by being effectively bundled out of the First International by the collectivist tendency that he foresaw would be an authoritarian disaster for the common man.

I suppose you are another who believes that "economic liberalism"="Thatcher and Reagan" rather than looking a little deeper to find Proudhon's undoubtedly left wing, worker focused mutualism and Spooner's campaign on the "four great monopolies" that kept workers from achieving their true worth.

On your specific criticisms of the party though, taken from the Greens, I fail to see how you can reconcile a desire for decentralism and subsidiarity with the idea that local parties and council groups should only toe the central party line on local issues like congestion charging or wind-farms. Indeed I've known Tories congratulate the Lib Dems locally for being able and willing to adapt to the wants of the people thy represent locally - when in local government, who are we representing? The Federal Liberal Democrats or the people who vote for us?

And I do not believe that the Greens have been any more "critical" of Europe than the Liberals and then the Lib Dem, who since we first sent representatives to the European Parliament have called for many reforms. Though I am no fan of the EU myself and believe we would be better off out, I don't think the criticism is warranted when compared with the Greens.

But since you do appear to be drifting towards the Greens, might I suggest you do some reading, if you haven't already, and have a look at anything by Henry George. You should find in there an understanding of why free trade and low taxes (because taxes are tariffs) are curcial to a proper liberal political-economy that delivers for the poor and does far more to level the playing field than our redistributive state of welfare and state capitalism ever could.

The Greens do, after all, support Land Value Tax, but I suggest they do not do so from the perspective of liberal Georgists but as "Yet Another Tax Source" and don't really appreciate the fundamental difference that its side-effects would have.

You can find his most famous books online, Progress and Poverty together with the shorter and just as readable Protection or Free Trade (the copy of which I have had an introduction by Philip Snowden, the Labour Chancellor of the thirties, just by way of demonstrating how well thought of it was on "the left" before state socialism took hold).

I have enjoyed your blogging, so have subscribed outside of Lib Dem blogs to the feed itself, so I look forward to hearing more from you about where you might decide to settle politically.

This "economic liberal" was, less than ten years ago, probably to the "left" of you in the now ubiquitous modern sense, and eventually saw the light! So there is always hope...:)

8:06 pm BST

 
Blogger Barrie Wood said...

Let me illustrate my kind of leftism. Now, it is true I see a greater role for the state than either Jock or Tristan, but that doesn't make me an out and out statist.

One of the bodies I'm a member of is the syndicalist trade union - the IWW, sometimes known as the Wobblies. Here is a voluntary union, entirely democratic in structure and not laden with union bureaucrats, like Unison or the GMB or other mainstream union. Workers represent each other, collectively work together, rather than have representation by an alleged expert, the full time union official. Individuals can learn from each other, there is no party line or emphasis and no 'aristocracy of labour. Many times I have felt that officials of mainstream unions have been more interested in safeguarding the interests of their union than giving support to employees in need of help.

As you may have surmised, the 'voluntary collectivism' of say LETS schemes, time banks, credit unions, worker co-operatives are things that I seek to promote, but of which the Lib Dems have nothing to say. In short such voluntary associations are somewhat removed from 'statist' leftism. Yes, I do see a role for the state in the provision of essential public services, like education, health, public transport et al. But my mentality is to work with people on the 80% we agree on, rather than majoring on those areas of disagreement,

Additionally, my former role of community development worker, means I'm very much into working with, rather than for, people. Where I have knowledge I seek to share it to empower others. The joy of watching groups grow organically from the bottom-up begin to make demands upon formal decision mak ers is what gives me a buzz, or did.It gets results too.

As I say I'm influenced by a variety of progressive thought, without being beholden to the description of socialist. liberal or green. That's why I say my views are of the 'democratic left'. Of course this leads to tension and ideological messiness, but I can live with that.

I will be starting another blog www.therestlessradical,blogspot.com so I'd welcome continuing engagement with liberals and leftists of all descriptions once that is up and running.

I look forward to Jock and Tristan crossing swords with me there soon.

8:49 pm BST

 
Blogger Joe Otten said...

A couple of Qs about the greens for you, Barrie.

ED332 No publicly-funded school or learning centre will be run by a religious group. Schools or centres may teach about religions but are prohibited from delivering religious instruction in any form or encouraging adherence to any particular religious belief.

from http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfssed.html

Rather more Boycish than the Lib Dem policy.

On Europe, what particular democratic reforms do you have in mind that the Greens support, and the Lib Dems do not.

---

That said, you seem to be an unreconstructed leftie and the Greens are therefore probably not a bad choice for you. If you can get used to the Luddism.

9:05 pm BST

 
Blogger Jock Coats said...

Thanks for that Barrie. You sound very much in the place I was ten years ago to be honest.

Personally, I think you are wrong about lack of support for mutualist type things - though I agree at a federal level little is said. But even just a month ago, the Cornish Lib Dems included a manifesto commitment to fund the Credit Union, we have done so here in Oxford, and our Oxford group have been very supportive of my work towards local trading networks/currencies. Vince has openly supported ideas for local financial institutions in Liverpool for example only recently. Throughout most of the second half of the twentieth century it was prime Liberal policy to support worker involvement and ownership, as well as citizens' income and land taxes. Groups like ALTER fight to get these back on the party's agenda. The Lib Dems were supporting and promoting Community Land Trusts for mutual housing development since before the other parties had even heard of the phrase and still do. In the form of David Boyle we have one of the *world's* foremost experts on LETS, Time Banks and complementary currencies.

I (now) see my efforts in this regard as a exemplary mechanisms for the breaking down of the state and replacing it with voluntary institutions. This is classic Proudhon style mutualism in action (and I will be speaking on it at this year's Libertarian Alliance Conference).

You are right to say that we will not agree any longer on "a role for the state in the provision of essential public services, like education, health, public transport et al" because I no longer believe that state directed coercive collective action can in fact deliver these either efficiently or effectively.

There is no reason why voluntarism cannot deliver such "essential" needs (though there is an argument about how much of these are in fact "essential" in a truly free world where the worker gets a bigger chance on a more level playing field in any case). I submit that our Liberal forebears who established such social supports, L-G and Beveridge in particular, viewed them as essentially temporary - that a properly liberal world would render such compulsion unnecessary as a result of genuinely free markets (not the stuff of Thatch and Reagan).

In short, the state is part of the problem, not part of the solution. The state is responsible around the world for more deaths than it "saves" or "enhances" through the compulsory collective provision of these services. That a proper cost-benefit analysis of the state, the way it pays for things (ie taking large portions of our labour at every stratum of society), and the success in delivery would show it is essentially a failure. It is pro-politician and anti-human essentially.

As I say - you may think it mere nostalgia, but do have a look at the likes of Henry George to see how different the world could be. Adrian supports LVT by the way - he's one of the ALTER vice-presidents.

9:38 pm BST

 
Blogger Jim Jay said...

All power to your elbow.

I suspect some of this negotiating over political categories comes from a little bit of fetishisation of what terms mean.

Of course people can be red, green and liberal - you can only insist on a contradiction between these camps if you insist on a definition that makes them mutually exclusive.

As a description of someone's actually existing politics, rather than some ideal type, it's obviously going to fit a whole number of people.

At least that's the way it seems to me.

12:40 am BST

 
Anonymous Green Supporter said...

"I've put on the back burner ideas like actually challenging the limits of economic growth, looking at localising economies, the promotion of mutuals and co-ops, pushing for a strengthening of trade union rights, looking at radical changes to our work / life balance and areas like a universal Citizen's / Basic Income schemes."

All of these ideas are at the core of the Green Party's political thought! Please think about attending our Autumn conference to meet us and find out more.

8:30 am BST

 
Anonymous C'llr. Rupert Read, Green candidate in Norwich North said...

Well done you, Barrie!
From the views you express, including being Euro-_critical_ (Check out this old blog post of mine, which makes I think pretty clear the fairly stark differences between Green policy and LibDem policy on this from: http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2007/10/what-do-greens-stand-for-vis-vis-europe.html ), you would be extremely welcome if you decide at some point (maybe soon! There are byelection to fight as we speak! ;-) ) to join us.
When I left the Libdems in 1999, I thought I would never join another Party. I thought party politics was over for me. It took me, to my great surprise, less than two years before I joined the Green Party...

8:41 am BST

 
Anonymous James said...

I've put restless radical into my RSS already. This post is a fine introduction to your writing, and I'll certainly recommend it to others considering heading even in the Green direction from the Lib Dems.

10:08 am BST

 
Blogger neil craig said...

Unfortunately the days when the "workers movement and the liberal governments of early in teh 20th century and the 19th were bound as one with the ideology of free trade" are long over since the unions are at least dubious about free trade & the so called "liberals" strongly opposed. he reens, being more Luddite tham environmentalist" are, of course wholly opposed to globalisation.

Liberalism is making the world wealthy. What a pity political parasites in Britain are so uniformly opposed to it.

10:13 am BST

 
Blogger Barrie Wood said...

I'd love to continue discussing some of the points raised by Jock and the Green contributors in more depth later, but for now my difference with Jock centres upon our view of the state. Social Liberals and the great reforming government of 1906 onwards recognised as I do that the state can either empower or oppress. Libertarians see only the latter.

Through my time as a Lib Dem, a party whom I initially joined as a pragmatic anti-Tory vehicle, I have come to question the role, size and function of the state and, clearly, under NuLab it's overweening presence.

I also differ from Jock and Tristan's unswerving faith in markets. Left libertarianism to me is anarch-syndicalist groups like the Solidarity Federation, whom I assume are still going.

But, I'd like to come back on these issues some more later.

10:25 am BST

 
Blogger Jock Coats said...

"my difference with Jock centres upon our view of the state. Social Liberals and the great reforming government of 1906 onwards recognised as I do that the state can either empower or oppress. Libertarians see only the latter."

Well, I would say that we have concluded that the propensity of the state to turn to oppression once established perhaps as a vehicle for empowerment outweighs its possible empowerment role and is not worth the risk. There is nothing (apart from war and conquest) the state can do qua state (ans I would assume you are pretty much against war) that people operating in voluntary co-operation (ie a free market - most of what we casually but erroneously term the "free market" does not fulfill this simple definition of voluntary co-operation and usually because of state or state protected privilege on the part of one side to a trade or the other) cannot do.

"I also differ from Jock and Tristan's unswerving faith in markets. Left libertarianism to me is anarch-syndicalist groups like the Solidarity Federation, whom I assume are still going."

Then I think you need to do some history-mining. Proudhon was definitely not a syndicalist - it was they he fought in the International. The mutualists were and are not syndicalists. And to that end you might want to have a look at the work of Kevin Carson, at "Free Market Anti-Capitalism and at the Centre for a Stateless Society. Both of Kevins main books are online if you search for them - though I have to admit to his style being a bit heavy for me and the blog is better.

By the way, in all this, I'm not really having a go at your decision not to stay with the Lib Dems - God knows I've long felt it might be time to go, just questioning your implicit assertion that what is wrong is, if anything, a lack of coercive collectivism rather than too much of it.

10:44 am BST

 
Blogger Barrie Wood said...

Jock,

First of all let me give you some encouragement. Whereas some of your fellow libertarians lecture and 'abuse' those who take a different view as 'social democrats', your approach of explaining your view and illustrating it with examples and perhaps hints at future reading is well removed from shall we say the more shrill voices of LD Libertarianism.

It does seem like an attraction to mutualism (as well as the traditional liberal defence of civil liberties) is where there is some political overlap between us. Thank you for your reading suggestions. When time is freer I shall look at thse.

It is interesting that the only others who shared my misgivings about the EU, within LD blogoshere, where yourself and Tristan Mills. I just cannot see how Liberals fail to see how illiberal and undemocratic this monolithic body is.

Whilst I'm not a market liberal, my positioning on social issues is far stronger. I'm sure you won't find any instances of me wanting to ban voices or things I find objectionable, as long as harm is not inflicted upon others. Although the likes of Geert Wilders holds objectionable views, I would uphold the right for him (and others) to be heard. Further, strictures from government about how to live our lives is something I have consistently fought, likewise wider attacks on civil liberties from NuLab which we call all agree on. In the above sense I am a liberal.

Libertarianism isn't something I'm that au fait with. I have associated 'left' libertarianism the likes of the Solidarity Federation. I know Tristan Mills calls himself a 'left libertarian' but is somewhat removed from them. Confused ? Er, yes ! I am not as academic in my political thinking as yourself Jock, but have moved to a more free thinking green-slanted leftism. Originally and for much of my adult life I have been tribally 'Labour', and of a so-called 'hard left' statist hue. This picture doesn't capture the essence of what I believe now.

I flirted with the Greens years ago, but in my then locality in the NE of England, a rather apolitical 'fluffy bunny' greenery was typical there. In short they were not a credible force.

As I said before, I am no longer tribally loyal to any political party, but I will be joining the Greens, for I can tick more boxes in terms of policy agreement and with an active 'left' current within it, they can hopefully stave off any ideological drift such as that hindering the Irish Greens. As Green Supporter says, a lot of the ideas I've submerged by being in the Lib Dems, are actually ideas very topical within the Green Party currently. If someone can tell me how to get myself onto the GreenFeed / Green Party Home blogs listing then that would be most helpful.

I'm sure my departure will hardly be mourned by the classical liberals and libertarians whose influence is steadily increasing, in part due to vehicles like Liberal Vision, but also in part to the authoritarian failures of NuLab.

Membership of the Lib Dems has advanced my thinking in terms of always analysing what the state can and should do. I believe it can empower as well as oppress, although the tendency towards the latter is arguably greater.

In terms of economic growth, we've two billion worldwide existing on under $2 a day.One can see end of cheap oil, rising food and commodity prices and we face the challenge of carbon neutral existence. Capitalism is an acquisitive system. The need for continuous growth is placing too huge a burden on our planet and finite resources are being exploited and run down. Can we really say business as usual ? Having read (some so far) of Vince Cable's book - 'The Storm' - I'm not encouraged that Lib Dems are offering any new thinking that would address the above issues.Can one really believe there is no role for 'interventionism' ?

4:10 pm BST

 
Blogger King of the Paupers said...

"In a time of increasing unemployment and financial challenges, why am I not hearing more from the Lib Dems about LETS schemes, credit unions, time banks and local currencies ? If I've missed something please do tell me!"

Jct: Because instituting a national LETS would disempower the banks of their yoke of oppression: the usury mort-gage death-gamble that keeps people in never-ending exponentially-growing debt. LETS is interest-free accounting.
But it doesn't matter if the government won't run money right. Time-based, not gold-based, community currency accounting databases are starting all around the planet and when the local currency is pegged to the Time Standard of Money (how many dollars/hour child labor), Hours earned locally can be intertraded with other timebanks globally! In 1999, I paid for 39/40 nights in Europe with an IOU for a night back in Canada worth 5 Hours.
U.N. Millennium Declaration UNILETS Resolution C6 to governments is for a time-based currency to restructure the global financial architecture. See my banking systems engineering analysis at http://youtube.com/kingofthepaupers
So don't worry about politicians who aren't fulfilling their duties to provide you with a workable national money and help start up your own for you and your neighbors until the slow-to-do-anything politicians catch up.
Note how Argentina's State governors resorted to paying civil servants with small-denomination provincial bonds rather than lay them off and as long as everyone could pay their taxes and provincial fees with them, everyone took them and they had found a source of interest-free credits to finance their recovery. Everyone heard about the 2001 crash but only I have written about the 2006 pay-off of all IFM-
World Bank debt 2 years early by their use of public (provincial bonds) and private (creditos networks) currencies all doing their bit to substitute when the national banks shut down.
Sure, push politically but also get networked locally, and fast.

And thanks for this opportunity to make a few of the most important points. You are more powerful than you think because once you are hitched to your own local database of time-traders, you are less hitched to the international and national bank money networks.

4:50 pm BST

 
Blogger neil craig said...

If the LibDems actually had any interest in ending "their yoke of oppression: the usury mort-gage death-gamble" they would support free markets since it is known that 75% of housing costs are government regulations.

If they were in any way liberal they would support such freedom too.

If they were big state corporate fascists they obvioulsy would wish only to pile extra regualtions on housebuilding & as we can see that is what they do.

5:16 pm BST

 
Blogger Barrie Wood said...

To Joe Otten :

Joe, I've read the section from the MfSS than you cite. My reaction, from within the Lib Dems, was not upon the conference debate per se about the character of church schools, but the nasty and unpleasant tone of the debate, with Laurence Boyle being especially insulting, as he was towards of adherents of Islam too.

One would not rule out joining a party on the premise of a policy on church schools. Further, as a one time key activist within the Greens, inevitably you are somewhat partisan in discussion about that party.

I can't remember if you blogged on t5he reasons why you left them to join the LD's. It would be interesting to read !

5:28 pm BST

 
Blogger Barrie Wood said...

Joe,

I should clarify - I am talking about the **online** debate about church schools.

5:29 pm BST

 
Anonymous david Cox said...

"They want a zero carbon economy by 2050 - in principle. But they have opposed windfarm proposals in Cornwall, Cumbria, DEVON and Worcestershire."

I can't speak for the other areas, but is a downright lie to say DCC Lib Dems opposed windfarms - please provide evidence Barry.

3:38 pm BST

 
Blogger Left Lib said...

I imagine it is a hard decision to leave a party, knowing that many of your friends will be upset. I guess there is little I can say to change your mind on this.
I have never met you. However I find my own views are very similar to yours, yet I have decided to stay with the Liberal Democrats.
There is one reason to stay which may sound like a techicallity but is important all the same. The Greens are successful mostly at the expense of the Lib Dems. Under our electoral system that has a perverse effect. In Torbay it will mean the Tories are more likely to win of course, which is bad enough. It is made worse when you consider that they will not change the voting system - ensuring the Greens will not get elected. The Greens are rightly impatient in wanting to implement radical Green policies, but unless they overtake the Lib Dems they end up sustaining the 2 party system which holds them back.
So I would say at least wait until we have PR.
On the more substantive issues I think you are right that the leadership of the party wanted to lead the party to a more right wing economically liberal position. But they have been blown off course. It was Vince Cable who led the calls for Northern Rock to be nationalised, and is now calling for tighter regulation of financial institutions. Remarkably this provoked very little response from libertarians, apart from on a few blogs. Whilst existing libertarians are not going to change their minds straight away, I think there is every reason to believe that the next generation of Liberal Democrats will join us in the backlash against libertarianism.
As far as Trident is concerned the party is also starting to move in the right direction, and judging by the polling on LDV I wouldn't be surprised if the party ends up rejecting nuclear weapons altogether (and I have to acknowlege that many libertarians would also support that).
I think a key time for the party will be after the next general election. That is the time when the party makes a judgement as to what happened and what should happen next. Maybe we will have a new leader. Maybe Chris Huhne for example. It doesn't seem a good time to leave when things could look very different this time next year.
My experience of Lib Dem conference is different to yours. What surprises me is the lack of a liberatian presence. There are plenty of motions where they could have put in amendments and failed to do so. For example I was concerned about what the motion would look like on globalisation, but actually it was very good.
I am not clear what you think the Lib Dems should propose as far as LETS schemes are concerned. Do they need any assistance from government, or shouldn't they be left to get on on their own accord? My personal experience of Hackney LETS was not a positive one. There was a core of overworked volunteers who tried to make it work - and noone wanted to replace them, whilst many of us stopped trading whilst we tried to work out how we could improve our balance. In the end it wound up.
However whether they succeed or fail, what do you suggest the Lib Dems be saying on this?
You say the Lib Dems are not very ideological in Torbay. Well that is a great opportunity to take the initiative and encourage debate, invite a few speakers at social gatherings.
I think we should understand that when Gordan Brown thought he abolished boom and bust, it really did look as though economic liberalism had succeeded to many people, up until 2007. Not many were prepared to recognise that the boom was based in unsustainable debt caused by poor regulation. I can understand why some liberals decided that we should embrace economic liberalism given its apparent success.
But that time has passed, and we need all of the Social Liberals and Green Liberals to reset the Liberal Democrats on the new course it needs to take.

9:45 pm BST

 
Blogger Jock Coats said...

Geoffrey Payne wrote:

On the more substantive issues I think you are right that the leadership of the party wanted to lead the party to a more right wing economically liberal position. But they have been blown off course. It was Vince Cable who led the calls for Northern Rock to be nationalised, and is now calling for tighter regulation of financial institutions. Remarkably this provoked very little response from libertarians, apart from on a few blogs. Whilst existing libertarians are not going to change their minds straight away, I think there is every reason to believe that the next generation of Liberal Democrats will join us in the backlash against libertarianism.

Oh, Geoffrey, Geoffrey, Geoffrey, so funny, and so predictable. Let's have a blast at them "libertarian entryists".

My experience of Lib Dem conference is different to yours. What surprises me is the lack of a liberatian presence. There are plenty of motions where they could have put in amendments and failed to do so. For example I was concerned about what the motion would look like on globalisation, but actually it was very good.

I pondered trying to amend that for the good, but since I can never get to the autumn conference owing to term dates and feeling that it was reasonable enough in its exhortations not to rekindle the evils of protectionism and so on didn't bother. However you miss the inconvenient fact that, often via ALTER, who understand the place of true liberal economics, we have consistently attempted to get anti-banking in particular motions accepted for debate but to no avail, at least until the great and the good decided the party had to have something to say about it and then our motion was emasculated by Vince's office. Incidentally, most of the "libertarians" you are no doubt referring to tend to be in the room with you at ALTER events.

I am not clear what you think the Lib Dems should propose as far as LETS schemes are concerned. Do they need any assistance from government, or shouldn't they be left to get on on their own accord? My personal experience of Hackney LETS was not a positive one. There was a core of overworked volunteers who tried to make it work - and noone wanted to replace them, whilst many of us stopped trading whilst we tried to work out how we could improve our balance. In the end it wound up.

We should have policy, however, on the localization of trading networks, including complementary currencies, mutual local banking and similar less sophisticated measures like LETs which enable people, the economic liberal way if you will, to function financially and economically even when the big bad world outside one's neighbourhood is in melt-down. Just as I suggested in Liverpool in Spring two and a half years ago or whatever it was when I highlighted the "Liverpool Pound" of 1793, created in an international banking crisis to enable that city to continue to trade despite not having any sterling money circulating. We do after all have one of the world's foremost experts on alternative money systems in David Boyle, and should be using his expertise much more....cont'd

8:21 pm BST

 
Blogger Jock Coats said...

...cont'd (never seen a word limit on Blogger comments - is that something new?)

I think we should understand that when Gordan Brown thought he abolished boom and bust, it really did look as though economic liberalism had succeeded to many people, up until 2007. Not many were prepared to recognise that the boom was based in unsustainable debt caused by poor regulation. I can understand why some liberals decided that we should embrace economic liberalism given its apparent success.

I can't remember when it was that I first met Chris Huhne - I think it was maybe 2001 - I thrust into his hands a copy of a great book that had turned me onto liberal economics by its criticism of the debt-fiat money system, the fact that asset bubbles and debt went hand in hand in causing huge transfers of wealth from poorer (borrowers) to richer (lenders) and we have been campaigning on this ever since, inside and outside of the party. Indeed, I've been advising friends not to try to extend themselves onto the housing ladder because it was "all going to end badly" for about six years now. It was us economic liberals who laughed in the face of such nonsense as "abolishing boom and bust" and the "golden rule" which has now landed us in such a terrible government debt situation.

Inconvenient, for you, but true.

But don't let it all spoil a good rant at the "economic liberals", about which it seems to me you still have not really understood anything. The fact that people like you, with little or no appreciation of the importance of this part of our party's history or how it ought to be woven into our current narrative to differentiate us from the socialists and crypto-comunists who want to steal our votes, got yourself onto the FPC is as good a reason as any for me to despair that we will end up in fourth place very soon, to parties who do the soggy socialist thing much better than us and leave no liberal option for the people of Britain.

8:22 pm BST

 
Blogger neil craig said...

The problem is that the party have officially decided that being an economic liberal is officially "incompatible with party membership". As such even if you keep your head down & never make waves & occasionally let yourself be used to lie the electors there is, by definition, no possible way you can have a positive effect.

What we need is a Liberal Party in Britain & in fact we do have UKIP.

10:32 am BST

 
Blogger Jock Coats said...

The problem is that the party have officially decided that being an economic liberal is officially "incompatible with party membership".

Says who? Are you referring to your case?

I've never experienced such prejudices I have to say, and have been more forthright than the average member about my positions. It is true that most people who know me in the party know my "political journey" which has taken me from the sort of position Barrie recites here about himself to pretty hard-core libertarian. And most also know that my position is one that has developed completely in line with what I have usually called "liberal economics" being the things our party at least once knew, and held in common with the working classes in this country of free trade, anti-tariffs and things like land taxation and banking reform.

In my experience there are quite a lot of us willing to be outspoken on this and it is the likes of Geoffrey, above, who, not understanding our position, make rather a spectacle of themselves ranting that we are some kind of Thatcherite entryists.

What we need is a Li right-wing rantersberal Party in Britain & in fact we do have UKIP.

I disagree that UKIP is a liberal party. I don't think its economic policies have developed from liberal ides - more conservative ones. And members I know are, frankly, right wing nutters, bar one, who are utterly reactionary and do not understand the basis of libertarianism or even liberalism, are merely blinded by anti-europe mania.

10:40 pm BST

 
Blogger neil craig said...

The Lib Dem Party says. It is a matter of record that they voted to expel me on the grounds that my profession of traditional liberal economic policies & saying we need nuclear power to stop the lights going out is officially "illiberal" & "to right wing" to even discuss, because that is what theu decided.

http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2005/12/i-was-purged-by-liberal-democrats.html for the original assertion.
http://neilsindex.blogspot.com/ index to dec 2006 under Liberal Democrats for the full range.

This is simply a matter of fact.

My point was not that UKIP are perfect but that they are undeniably far closer to liberal as the term was defined by the founders of the party than the current LibDems who are resolutely & undeniably supportive of bans, nannystatism, economic illiberality, Ludditry, anti-freemarketism, war crimes & genocide.

I don't see that this can be credibly denied.

12:34 am BST

 
Blogger Barrie Wood said...

Jock,

I think we need to see the many areas we agree on too. For example, whilst being liberal on ID cards and detention without trial, on lifestyle issues some Liberals are very illiberal. For example, the awful Sarah Teather was pontificating on ways to intervene in the market to limit 'cheap' alcohol sales on Question Time last night. Of course, this will be to deny choices to young adults and poorest in society, whilst no doubt Sarah will continue to enjoy a tipple at home and exercise a choice for herself. Liberals too can be heard to want to reign back our more liberal current day licensing laws.
As it is there already exists strong powers to revoke licenses from 'unruly' clubs and public houses. That, and the policing of incidents arising from alcohol misuse, is more than enough 'regulation' for me.

Neil,

UKIP a liberal party ? That party can't even run itself in a democratic and open manner, let alone anything else. The cult of Farage and the stifling of opposition to him is well documented by former and current UKIPers.

Frankly right-wing, authoritarian conservatism is more UKIP's appropriate description. Even David Cameron calls your crew, 'loonies' and 'fruitcakes'.

Moreover, the claim about LD membership by Neil that :"The problem is that the party have officially decided that being an economic liberal is officially "incompatible with party membership", is entirely without foundation. You clearly haven't been on the increasingly active Liberal Vision website. Indeed, my anxieties over the Lib Dems inching towards greater economic liberalism is one of my reasons for leaving the party.

If Jock, Tristan Mills, Chsarlotte Gore, and others 'slipped through the net', they can hardly be called entryists as their presence is clearly very visible in a very public way online (and within the party too no doubt). I do wonder why, as self defined libertarians, why it is they are not being more politically honest and joining the politically more tolerable option of joining UKLP.

Furthermore, in terms of nuclear power, a survey a year or two ago found a significant number (40% plus I believe) of LD's believing that it may be necessary for nuclear power to play a greater role in meeting UK energy needs in the future. This was carried in 'Challenge' the journal of Green Lib Dems !

There is significant debate taking place within the party, even if classical liberals / libertarians are more influential online than within the wider party, as yet.

Neil, the caricature of the Lib Dems is entirely wrong in my view.

12:22 pm BST

 
Blogger neil craig said...

Well Barrie I am not sure that David Cameron should be the deciding voice on the worth of other parties. UKIP is certainly democratic - the fact that some would be chiefs found themselves outvoted hardly disproves that. On the other han d the LibDems, having driven the liberals from the party have hardly acted in a democratic manner.

As for your last statement - that is a complete, total & deliberate lie.

I was quoting verbatim the party committee that expelled me specificaly for supporting free market liberalism & on a minor point for opposing illegal war. That is simply the official LD party position that being a free market liberasl is, officially, incompatible with party membership. I ask you eithery to confirm why, in the Orwellian world of the LibDems this http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2005/12/i-was-purged-by-liberal-democrats.html or withdraw your disgraceful lie.

12:39 pm BST

 
Blogger Jock Coats said...

If Jock, Tristan Mills, Chsarlotte Gore, and others 'slipped through the net', they can hardly be called entryists as their presence is clearly very visible in a very public way online (and within the party too no doubt). I do wonder why, as self defined libertarians, why it is they are not being more politically honest and joining the politically more tolerable option of joining UKLP.

Just a comment from my perspective and an aside on Neil's situation. I have read Neil's account of how he was expelled from the party and so on and can see how he would think that what they said to him about his motions for debate being inappropriate means that the party, at least in Scotland, regards liberal economics as "right wing" and too much so to debate.

Fortunately that doesn't appear to happen with the party south of the border or the federal party though I have to say that when some of us put forward economically more liberal motions we do tend to try and be extremely diplomatic and only seek to make one small point that we can then use as a lever. It seems to me that Neil's motion was probably too stark to be called "diplommatic" and not something we would try just because we know how they run conference and what sort of motions they would expect us to bring - ie not earth or policy shattering ones that would detract publicly from the "stage managed" content of that particular conference.

But for my part, why I am not an LPUKer...well mostly because at the moment, I'm not at all sure that having a libertarian electoral party is the way to achieve libertarian ends. For a start, like "revolutionary communists" there is a constant debate about whether libertarians should engage in the system we hate so much anyway at all - democratic electoral politics. As it happens I do believe that there are some (very very local) areas where a democratic sturcture and mechanism for delivering common needs at a community level can be useful, and this fits better with the Lib Dems than with LPUK at the moment.

I might yet join them. I might yet feel that their way of getting the message across is the best one, because even "classical liberal" does not describe me any longer so I don't really believe even in a minimal state, just a voluntaryist local form of governance where it is decided it is necessary by the people wanting to have one.

And having been in the Lib Dems for more than a decade and found it quite accommodating of my varied shaed of opinion since joining and having friends in it, it is difficult to leave.

I may yet end up the same way as Chris Haskins was though...:)

1:05 pm BST

 
Blogger Barrie Wood said...

Clarification for Jock :

Whilst I believe that UKLP might be a better political home for you Jock, I am not advocating the removal of libertarians such as yourself from the Lib Dems.

I am very much against expelling individuals on ideological grounds. Indeed too often the Lib Dem party in the country has no discernible ideology of any kind. Just look at a typical Focus leaflet. Park bench fixed in Dundee, drain unblocked in Worcester or new railings painted in Eastbourne. Somewhere along the line Community Politics has been de-politicised, This is Lib Demmery of the worst kind.

Oh BTW, any thoughts on the Oxford Green Jock ? They have been around electorally for a long time in your neck of the woods. Also, I'd be interested in your speech to the LibAlliance Conference. When is that scheduled for ? Might you eventually post it online or be kind enough to let me have a transcript ?

Thanks,

Barrie.


PS : Over to www.therestlessradical.blogspot.com from today

1:28 pm BST

 
Blogger Barrie Wood said...

Neil,

Your view of the Lib Dems is, in my opinion, clouded by your expulsion from them.

What you call a 'lie' is merely an opinion and hardly calls for such an intemperate response. This 'style' of 'debating; can be evidenced elsewhere online. I have no wish to repeat it on here.

Your comments on the Pope, Ashdown and others do not encourage people to want to get into debate with you. Libellous or not, the views you expressed were deeply nasty and unpleasant for sure. I have absolutely no intention of debating the merits of your expulsion from a party neither of us are currently members of. End of story. Any responses on this matter will be ignored.

However,as Jock asserts, at least in the English LD party, pretty much every strand of liberal perspective is represented and co-exists as well as can be reasonably be expected. Maybe the Scottish party IS different.

UKIP has for years been riven by factions, splits, expulsions and personality-driven tensions. A paragon of democratic transparency they are not. Still if you feel happy in that essentially conservative, English and Unionist party so be it.

Lets agree to disagree and leave it there Neil, OK ?

2:46 pm BST

 
Blogger neil craig said...

Had you expressed an opinion I would have had no objection.

You stated as fact that the lib Dem party had not officially stated that being a traditional economic liberal was "incmpatible with party membership". That was, as you clearly know, not the truth. I ask you once again to retract a statement you know to be untrue.

You are entitled to say that expressing disapproval of genocide is "unpleasnt". I disagree with you on that. I think genocide itself to be almost the evil thing human beings can do (genocide by dissecting peiople while alive to steal their body organs being the most evil I know of & something which all loyal "LibDems" support).

Your opinions about UKIP are, of course, only unsubstantiated opinions. As are your opinions about opposing genocide. I am perfectly happy to leve them.

The remark about allowed opinions in the LibDem party was an purported statement of fact which was wholly untrue. If you are in any way honest you will see that that should be retracted.

3:00 pm BST

 
Blogger Barrie Wood said...

I retain the view that classical liberalism and, in particular, economic liberalism (and libertarianism too), exists quite publicly within the English Lib Dem party. As I live in England, I cannot challenge the claims you make for the Scottish party.

Clearly too I speak from a personal perspective. But, as I said before a notable minority of contributors on LibDem Blogs come from a tradition of liberalism closer to your heart than mine. There is no 'clamping down' on what you call 'traditional liberalism. Having gone to a Liberal Vision fringe meeting at the Autumn Conference last year and since seen their online profile grow, it is clear than economic liberals are becoming more organised and visible within (rather than forced out of) the Lib Dems. I know that doesn't suit your argument, but tough !

Like I said, I'm not going to debate your expulsion from the Scottish Lib Dems. You've exhausted the subject to death elsewhere already.

As for UKIP and my opinions. You don't have to look far online to seek out information from current and past members of the fractiousness and lack of democracy within that party.

I am happy to leave you to the 'Little Englander' party. I hope your time with them is a less bitter experience than your unhappy time with the Lib Dems. And being a blog, rather than an academic treatise, I don't have to substantiate every claim.

Might it not be more fruitful to debate with your fellow 'liberals' in UKIP ? They could be marginally interested in what you have to say, I'm not ! You've stated your case, so lets not go for endless repetition. That's it Neil. Correspondence over.

4:11 pm BST

 
Blogger Jock Coats said...

In Barrie's defense, I don't see how he can retract something that is clearly true. Your experience with the SLD executive may vary, though it does sound to me as if you may have gone to some lengths to try and get something debated at a party conference that may have pissed them off more than anything. As I say - I have had a number of motions rejected from Federal or English conferences. I do not usually push them, because they are usually able to say "too busy an agenda" or "not appropriate when we are also debating y" or "does not apply in this context" or whatever and we try again later.

Clearly the way you went about trying to press for your motion for debate was, to say the least, unusual in my experience.

Nonetheless what Barrie says is true - that elsewhere in the federal party nobody with any power to initiate expulsion procedings has ever suggested to me that I should be thrown out for being an economic liberal, indeed now an avowed market anarchist. I have served, albeit briefly because of constraints on my own time, on regional policy committee and as its chair, elected at regional conference by people who know me and my opinions well and seem, by and large, to believe there s a way in which my economic outlook can be a part of the party - even MPs.

There are a few around, one of whom has written in this thread, who seem to think people with my views ought to be investigated and perhaps hounded out, because we are obviously "Thatcherite entryists" despite our political history, but fortunately down my way they don't have the power to do so on their own.

Barrie - I did not assume you were suggesting I ought to leave. I was trying to explain why I didn't find LPUK the right place for me, at the moment, that is all.

4:23 pm BST

 
Blogger neil craig said...

So you do not retract your purported statement of fact which is clearly wholly untrue. You are maintaining something you know to be a lie.

And have specificly declined to produce any evidence whatsoever to back your statements of opinion.

If on facts you have no respect for factual accuracy you cannot have more for accuracy of opinion. If the LudDims not only can't keep honest liberals but can't even heep the Luddites for whom they have sold all their principles they face a deserved oblivion.

4:24 pm BST

 
Blogger Jock Coats said...

PS - At the time, Neil, I was not aware of your case. Did you make a thing about it at the time? If so, I am pretty sure that, assuming you are a pretty decent chap, many economicc liberals would have come out to defend you and call for reinstatement - just as we did with Gavin Webb not so long ago.

Perhaps it suited you to be expelled and make a thing out of it. That's not a value judgement - it is to be expected sometimes in political parties. For me, at the moment, it wouldn't, and I would call in any favours from people and actually make a stink the other way around before final expulsion.

4:30 pm BST

 
Blogger neil craig said...

I did Jock & a few blogs did mention it overwhelmingly in supportive terms. It may be that there were fewer blogs there at the time.

As regards the question of there still being liberals in the party - that may be true & it may well be electoraly useful that there be such since LD activists are notoriously more leftist than LD voters. Nonetheless the principle has been established that liberalism is specificly "incompatible with party membership" & this simply cannot be denied.

It may be that it is not convenient to enforce at the moment, particularly against those who obediently do not try to influence the policy decided, in theory, by conference.

6:25 pm BST

 
Blogger Jock Coats said...

I disagree. With everything you have said. If you think the decision made in your case makes party policy by precedent I think you are wrong. But I kind of get the impression you quite like it that way.

I am not being "obedient", I am being pracitcal. I can effect more economic liberal debate than by going to the barricades at conference. The "Overton Window" is not always the sort of thing you throw open to those not ready to receive it.

There has been plenty of economic liberalism discussed at conferences, on stage and off, through groups like ALTER's motions and so on.

It sounds to me that perhaps you are good at the "sound and fury" bit but perhaps not so good at the politics of working with others in a diverse group of opinion. But that is only an impression I get from your writing and the story you weave surrounding your expulsion and the events that led up to it.

If I go, it will be by my own decision. It is getting close. Even if UKIP might have ever been an alternative for me, however, they are now way too statist for this individualist anarchist.

7:59 pm BST

 
Blogger neil craig said...

We will have to agree to disagree since there is no possible factual evidence that could settle this apart from the LibDems actually pushing though some serious economic liberal policies in (coalition) government.

I think you are fooling yourself about your influence. I have reason to believe that my indirect influence on not only Scottish politics but also on the pretend commitment of the LibDems to tax cutting has been far greater than I could have had as a loyal party member.

3:26 pm BST

 

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