I’m not currently a member of the Lib Dems, but I’m teetering…

I do support the party and have done since before it was the Lib-Dems. As “Chairman” of the Plymouth Polytechnic Liberal Society in the early 80s I worked with other “grown-up” Liberals to get David Owen re-elected in his Devonport seat in those heady days of the Liberal-SDP Alliance.

I campaigned with David Penhaligon, I played host to Paddy Ashdown, I had lunch with David Steele. I can remember times back then when 8 MPs seemed a far-off fantasy.

But I’ve drifted from time to time too. I voted for Tony Blair’s New Labour and was broadly behind his policies for all of his time at number 10. I may even have supported the invasion of Iraq, but at the time I thought someone had worked out the endgame, which it turned out they hadn’t. When Brown blustered his way into Downing Street I saw the end was nigh, and I felt that bad times were coming, and it was second nature to resume my former allegiances.

When Nick Clegg went into coalition with the Conservatives, I believed it was what the country needed: a Liberal voice at the heart of Government, and a much-needed break on the ruthlessness of the Tories. To be honest, I must have been out of the room when Nick Clegg made his promise to scrap tuition fees, and I could never see why people harped on about it, ignoring all that was right about Lib Dems in power.

I liked Nick Clegg’s openness and approachability, and his ability to take affairs of state seriously, while not taking himself quite so.

And I looked forward to five more years of coalition government after May’s general election, safe in the knowledge that whatever Party the electorate decided upon would be held in check by their Lib Dem partners.

What happened I have no idea? Was it the scaremongering of left and right, north and south of the border, which convinced people to vote Tory to keep out Miliband or Salmond? Perhaps they took it for granted – like me – that there would be a Lib-Dem “moderator” to stop any runaway nuclear reaction. Perhaps it was just all those people who were so obsessed – or at least were told they were obsessed – with Nick Clegg’s “betrayal” over tuition fees, and had decided he and his party must be punished?

Well, now we get to see what a Tory Government does when the brakes are off and it doesn’t have to pay lipservice to a coalition partner.

Forty percent cuts in ministerial spending, slashing benefits for those least able to cope (and fight back), going head-to-head in some ideological battle with the left– a battle which they have willed to take place –  and tax cuts for those who least need them.

The reaction to this has been a massive wave of new membership for the Lib Dems, and I’m sure I shall be joining soon, although my days of doorstepping on the campaign trail are probably done.

 

* Max Brockbank is a lifelong Liberal, though not a lifelong member of the party. He was active in student politics in North Oxfordshire and Plymouth but then went on to live a quiet life in regional and national journalism and global online marketing. Now, in his 50s and more mature in his outlook, he is nevertheless feeling greater conviction in his politics and is set to join the wave of new Liberal Democrat members. He lives in South East London with his wife and two grown-up children and a cat.

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14 Comments

  • Good stuff Max. You sound like a very normal person with sensible views, come on and join the #libdemfightback

  • Kath Fifield-Rhodes 23rd Jul '15 - 1:43pm

    I enjoyed reading your comments Max. I was Chair of Plymouth City and David Owen’s election agent during that time. I too drifted off over the years, though I always voted Liberal. I also remember the days when there were 6 MPs in the house. I rejoined in East Cornwall a month or so before the last election and don’t regret it for a minute. I actually quite enjoyed leaflet dropping ( did I really say that?) Liberals are different and its down to us “oldies” to remind people that we don’t wear a simple left or right label we’re a radical party with Liberal principles.

  • David Walker 23rd Jul '15 - 2:08pm

    There are many ways to be active without doorstepping – just being an online advocate for the Lib Dems and banging the drum for Liberal values. Time we cranked up the volume 🙂 Come on in the water is lovely

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Jul '15 - 2:16pm

    Charles Kennedy led opposition to second war in Iraq because it was illegal.
    All Liberal Democrat MPs at the time supported him.
    Former leader Paddy Ashdown was doing a job in the former Yugoslavia, which is still in need of more liberalism.
    Saddam Hussein was not to be trusted, but was he bluffing?
    Was there a double bluff?
    Was he saying different things to different audiences?
    He had used weapons of mass destruction, but did he still possess any?
    The expert, international inspectors did not find any, but is that the end of the matter?
    Is it possible that he wanted some, or all, of his neighbours to believe he still had such weapons? after the Iran-Iraq war.

  • We need more pragmatists in the party.

  • Top-class satire. These spoof posts always crack me up!

  • Sadie Smith 23rd Jul '15 - 5:36pm

    Tories busy dismantling good stuff we did in Government (except tax and pensions which ideas they nicked). Not just politically depressing but bad for the country.
    Labour line is baffling.
    And now Opik backs Corbyn.
    We live in interesting times.
    But both Tim and Norman are doing fine.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Jul '15 - 6:27pm

    The question used to be “Lembit Opik” what does it mean?
    To which his answer was “It is an anagram of ;Do not privatise the Post Office’.”

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Jul '15 - 6:40pm

    To be fair to Lembit Opik he did not say ‘Vote for Corbyn’ he said that Corbyn expresses his policies with clarity.
    The problem is that we live in a very complicated world, so simplifying SOMETHING risks misleading people.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Jul '15 - 6:46pm

    Mark Pack should sign up for YouGov and find out how boring their questionnaires are.
    It is all too tempting to click on ‘Don’t Know’ and move on.
    Newspapers then print stories that state that large numbers of people admitted in surveys that, for instance, they do not know which side of their car the petrol cap is. If it is a new car or a hire car that might be true, but it is not necessaary these days to queue up on the left or the right of a petrol pump because they have long hoses.
    Now, how many people put diesel in a petrol car or vice vwersa?

  • Door step are over!! I pounded many,many streets canvassing and delivery for Lynne Featherstone in the months running up to May. It keeps me fit. I only mention this as I am a little older than you so very surprised to see your comment. But however you get involved, re-joIn and have some serious fun 🙂

  • Sue Sutherland 24th Jul '15 - 1:09pm

    How marvellous to have worked with David Penhaligon. Being a West Country girl it used to annoy me that Labour never spoke up for local miners and then I heard David on the radio talking about the conditions the Cornish tin miners had to put up with and it was wonderful. I’ve never forgotten it and it was the first step towards my being a member of the Lib Dems. I believe that Tim Farron has that same ability to arouse the emotions of politics and I do hope you join us soon.

  • Great news Max, nice one!

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