I’m a relatively new member of the Liberal Democrats. I was a Tory at school, because my parents were Tories. University broadened my mind: as Jordan Peterson states, conservatism is more of a state of mind than a philosophical belief. Working as a classroom assistant in one of the most deprived parts of the country nudged me on my way to joining the Labour Party, even though at the time it was led by Tony Blair.
I spent 15 years in the Labour Party, serving as chair of the CLP for a time. Erroneously, I supported Jeremy Corbyn first time round. His leadership was so evidently shambolic and the media response to him so acerbic that he had no chance. My mistake – and I have made many – was assuming that Jeremy Corbyn would realise, once he had rejuvenated the party, that he was the wrong leader, stepping aside. Corbyn did love his personality cult – who’d have thought it?
Once Corbyn defeated Owen Smith for Labour Party leader, I was off. In part, I wanted the space to be free from as much ideological interference as I could muster. In addition, even though I have always thought that Labour’s analysis of the flaws of capitalism reigned supreme, I struggled with Labour’s approach to small businesses. Most of Labour Party bigwigs regarded business owners as, essentially, thieves. Furthermore, during Labour Party meetings rarely did anybody speak on environmental matters. Class politics dominated most discussions.
I recommend a break from a political party. You can always return. Political parties are not football teams: you should never change your football team. As Keynes said: “When the facts change, I change my mind.” In politics and economics, facts – if there are any – are always changing and therefore a wise person would frequently be forced to volte-face.
Changing parties may well lead to mistrust in the new party, but playing the game is not my game. Speaking truth is much more fun and frankly much more useful to those who hear it.
Tonight, I came face-to-face with a leader (at least a co-leader) of the Liberal Democrats, Dr Mark Pack. Infinitely brighter, more eloquent and more experienced in politics and I am, I suspect that he impressed our local party. In so many ways, I was very impressed too.
As the meeting was recorded, and is already available online, I can explain to my readers what it was that I asked him. I quoted Ed Davey’s interview in the New European which I blogged about here. I said that it was likely to be folly to await the outcome of a public inquiry into the Tory-caused Covid tragedy which we are living through, given that public inquiries, like the one in relation to the Iraq war, take many years. I suggested that the narrative needs to be defined now; that we are just lucky that we have Piers Morgan to do the work which opposition politicians should be doing.
He disagrees. He cannot see a General Election occurring outside of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act – i.e. over four years away. Mark takes the view that because we only have 11 MPs, even though we have millions of voters and many millions more who do not despise us, that we must simply act accordingly – that whatever we do we will not be able to make any political headway.
I could not disagree more. This Government is a threat to public health, a threat to each and every one of us and to each organisation that we are involved with. It is our duty to our fellow countrymen and women to terminate the tenure of this Government forthwith. The Liberal Democrats should, in a few months’ time, demand a General Election. During this period, Liberal Democrats must find their Keynes, their North Star.
In times like these, what we do and what we don’t do, will be remembered always. The neighbours who helped you, you won’t forget. Opposition politicians who show character, show leadership, who speak truth to power, will be remembered and thanked, always.
Now is not the time for timidity; now is the time for action.