Christmas Competition – Why be a Lib Dem?

To talk about reasons why everyone else should join the party, I assume I should start by discussing the reasons why I joined myself. I joined the party shortly after Jeremy Corbyn’s second Labour leadership election, seeing no future for myself in the Labour Party, I began to search for a new political party to call my home. Being vaguely close to the political centre, I knew from the start it wouldn’t be the CPGB or UKIP, not being from a region that has a regional party, I assumed the SNP and Plaid Cymru wouldn’t be too pleased with a Londoner interrupting their meetings. I was also not incredibly keen on the Greens, having seen their lack of activity in my area of London, and on the campus at the university I attend, and from an ideological sense, I believe they swing too far left for me.

I was therefore split between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives, the two parties that had made up the Coalition, neither of which had a good reputation among students. (Remember Nick Clegg and the Vote for Students pledge) after much soul searching and researching, I decided on the Liberal Democrats. I believe that it is the Lib Dems, and the Lib Dems alone, who can represent the views that I hold. Principal among these being members of the European Union, something that I personally hold with incredibly high importance. The Lib Dems are also a party of openness, and tolerance, I found in some parts of Labour, especially in some student wings of the party, that dissent from the mainstream narrative was not exactly welcomed. The Lib Dems have been a champion of minority rights since their inception, with the most recent major example being the support for the Same-Sex Marriage Act, whose process was started by our own Lynne Featherstone.

Going into 2019, the Lib Dems are starting to recover their reputation among students, with new students being too young to be angry at the Lib Dems over the Tuition Fees debacle. People are being drawn in by the strong Pro-EU message being pushed by charismatic young politicians like Layla Moran and Jo Swinson. Vince Cable is a steady hand at the tiller, keeping the party strong and stable through some very turbulent times for the other parties. From my point of view, it’s looking bright for the Lib Dems, with council seats swinging our way and both major parties having internal issues. Going into 2019, I can feel proud to call myself a Liberal Democrat, and not be immediately hit with a barrage of questions about tuition fees and coalition betrayal. We are beginning to create a new image, wholly distinct to that of the party that made some contentious errors during the coalition.

* Param Barodia is a Lib Dem member and former secretary of Warwick University Liberal Democrats

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5 Comments

  • Nice article Param. And I think you are right that the public mood towards us is changing, gradually. I’ve always taken the view that the mistakes we made in the coalition were so serious that it would take many years for people to forgive us, and that we basically just had to accept that and wait it out; keep the faith and do the campaigning work on the ground to help rebuild. We are still in that purgatory phase, but I sense we are nearer the end of it than the beginning. This extraordinary poll showing that Labour voters would come to us if Corbyn backs Brexit is a real sign of that. A couple of years ago I’m sure there would not have been so many.

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  • @ Tony H: I did feel at the time, and still do, that the LDs might have defended themselves a bit better by pointing out that since they are keen on Proportional Representation, they could not easily refuse to help out the party with the most votes (and seats). And their presence in the coalition did in fact ameliorate or delay several undesirable Conservative measures, I think. [ Also, they may have been half seduced by the growing practice of calling Thatcherism economic ‘neoliberalism’. Tories think, or pretend to think, that Laisser Fair, devil-take-the-hindmost economics is good, and works: most Liberals, I hope and believe, think the opposite, but not all do, alas.]

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