To be fair, I must say that I failed to renew my LibDem membership a long time ago. I still considered myself “a LibDem” but I was disturbed by the party’s direction enough to not want to be a party member. For me it was an issue of the party regaining my vote and membership rather than retaining it-I was not prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt as many of my activist colleagues have done.
Perhaps it is hypocritical that I continued to promote the party to others while not being a member, but I don’t see it that way. I have never urged anyone to join as a member, I merely have advocated that the LibDems are worth a vote and even more, that Labour and the Tories are unworthy of Government. I still believe in the latter, but I am having trouble with the former. So the question is what do you do, when your choices are all bad and if you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t?
Personally, I am a left winger-I am a lot more a left winger than I am a Liberal (sorry if that disappoints anyone who knows me). In the LibDem spectrum I am definitely more on the old Social Democrats wing and even now am quite interested in how this Liberal Left thing will play out. Of course I am also a Liberal-for the most part I am a strong believer in social liberalism (though I’m not an absolutist) but I am definitely not an economic Liberal. For me anything that strays into the “right wing” is instantly suspect until it proves that it serves some sort of utilitarian goal, basically that it will achieve something which is good for the people. Why am I not a Labour activist? Probably because Labour nowadays are further right than the LibDems and are generally hellbent on destroying personal freedom on a breathtaking scale.
So for me, the current developments which have taken the party on a dark journey rightwards, rubber-stamping abhorrent Tory pet projects, are very unpalatable. I think this is definitely the reason why I not only have no plans of renewing my membership, but I am finding it harder and harder to say a good word about the LibDems in Government. The Grassroots party is still true to its roots, but there is a growing disconnect between them and their representatives in Westminster. Several times now LibDem MP’s and Peers have completely ignored conference motions and arguably public and Grassroots LibDem outcries and toed the party and government line. In other words, they are listening to Clegg and Cameron and not to the card carrying members who ARE the party. Nick Clegg had famously said that he will die a card carrying LibDem-well that’s very poetic but all for nowt if he completely bastardises what that card stands for in the mean time.
At the same time, it is important to realise a very clear and chilling truth. Everything that the public doesn’t like about the government and that has caused the most pain to the ordinary person would be much, much worse, if the LibDems were not in government. If this was an exclusively Tory Government, the UK would be suffering the full brunt of Cameron and Osborne’s perverse market obsessed brand of insanity. I don’t believe that Nick Clegg is a bad man. I really don’t. I think he does bad things for good reasons. I think he believes that what he is doing now is the best thing for the country-making concessions here, being diplomatic there in order to extract every bit of humanity possible from Tory policies. Essentially I believe he is engaging in an extremely risky and high stakes game of damage limitation on behalf of Joe Public. I empathise with this, which is why I still think the coalition was the only way forward. Staying the Tory hand and checking their excesses in Government would not otherwise be possible.
I fear, however that he and the rest of the leading LibDems have lost their head in their attempts and controlling Cameron and co. They have started agreeing and advocating things they would never dream of pre-election. This shows they are in danger of completely losing their integrity and tarnishing the party reputation for generations. I fear, therefore that the strain from holding back the Tories and their inexperience in Government (and in managing sly political operators) has lead them to essentially go native (or fall to the Dark Side if you will).
So what is the solution-the Tories seem hell bent on destroying the state and making the people suffer, Labour’s answer to everything appears to be to spy on you and the LibDems…well they don’t really seem to have an answer to anything right now. The only way out for Clegg right now seems to be to wait for a sufficiently charged issue and use it as an opportunity to either score a big win over Cameron or break the coalition. Waiting it out will only allow the Tories to do more damage, which will take the next Labour or coalition government even longer to reverse. Furthermore, waiting until 2015 will, at this rate, ensure the LibDems get slaughtered at the polls. People blame the party for everything that goes wrong. I used to think that the electorate is stupidly being duped by Cameron into blaming Clegg for everything. Now I see it differently-of course they’re not angry with Cameron-those who voted for him actually think he’s doing good work and those who didn’t know for sure that Tories will be Tories-you can’t expect a wild beast not to bite. The LibDems however, CAN do something about it-which is why they get blamed everytime they don’t. They need only look to the continent to see examples of minority parties in Government mounting much more active rearguard action than the LibDems have currently managed. Will it cause stalemates-sure, maybe. That’s still better than allowing atrocious laws onto the statute book for the sake of stability.