The Independent View: My journey to becoming a Liberal Democrat – well, almost

I have come to the conclusion I am a Liberal Democrat, but have not yet pulled my finger out and joined the party. I am a student studying politics and have recently begun to question my political alliances.

Back in September, at the beginning of my degree, I joined the Labour party – mainly due to its cheap member’s fee. I no longer have any faith in the Labour party or Gordon Brown, whilst I would never consider voting Tory. Naturally my only remaining option was Lib Dem. Of course I could have aligned myself with a minority party, the Greens for example. However, I do not see single issue parties as adequate parties for running the country. Nevertheless, I do perceive it as a party that deserves representation within parliament; which brings me onto my first point.

The Liberal Democrats appear to be the only party with any form of common sense. If there is one issue I have formed strong opinions on from studying the first year of my degree, it is that of electoral reform. Furthermore I have formed opinions of opposition against the war in Iraq – opinions that are easy to form in hindsight, but the Liberal Democrats were in opposition from the start.

In fact there is only one policy area in which my opinions diverge from that of the Liberal Democrats and that is the abolition of tuition fees. Being a student, I should probably support such a policy, but with vast numbers of university students, increasing year on year, I fail to understand how else universities can receive adequate funding.

The Labour party have unsuccessfully represented the working classes. The Conservatives have ineffectively represented the rich. It is my belief that the Liberal Democrats can represent the masses, achieving change with policies of common sense.

I would be foolish to expect that the Liberal Democrats could gain power in the general elections in 2010, but after the country regret electing Tory, I firmly believe the Lib Dems can overtake the Labour party as the alternative, and become the replacement for Conservative government.

I will be joining the Liberal Democrats, and I will be supporting the party in the local, European and the general elections next year.

* Luke Burford is a student at Nottingham Trent University.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and The Independent View.


  • “In fact there is only one policy area in which my opinions diverge from that of the Liberal Democrats and that is the abolition of tuition fees. Being a student, I should probably support such a policy,…”

    I’m also a student, and a LibDem supporter, yet I don’t agree with the abolition of tuition fees either. Of course, I tend not to say it that much around campus…

  • Alix Mortimer 17th May '09 - 7:28pm

    I’m undecided about tuition fees. But I think it does have to be seen in the context of Vince’s recent suggestion that a 50% university-educated population is basically unrealistic, and maybe not even particularly desirable.

  • David Heigham 17th May '09 - 8:29pm

    Luke reminds me that when I was his age, the first election at which I could vote came up. The Tories were pretty repulsive, and Labour then were all for the Unions. Even then, our Trade Unions had begun to look more like part of the things that needed change rather than one of the things to promote. The Liberals were basically about people living their own lives. That was for me; in 1951.

    Wayne reminds me that in 1967, we found ourselves refounding a Liberal constituency party, in Islington.

    As an economist, I ought to be in favour of tuition fees. Mostly, subsidies to students pay them to get richer at the expense of taxpayers. I am against tuition fees because the uneconomic truth is that they effectively discourage quite a few people from poorer families from getting the higher education they should have. I think the LibDem solution is for graduates who have benefited from publicly financed higher education (like me) to have something added to any higher rate of income tax we may pay.

  • liberal teen 18th May '09 - 4:22pm

    A lot of sense being spoken here…
    I’m only 17, and had my political epiphany in January, and was compelled to join the Lib Dems, even though I go to a haughty public school, and as a result all my friends are proud Tories. Lib Dems to me seem just the obvious choice, and even though I can’t yet vote (an issue I think must be addressed), I’ll be trying to convince everyone I know who can to do the right thing.
    I got some BNP filth through the letter box this morning, makes me sick, almost rang them up and told them to f*** off.

  • luke burford 18th May '09 - 5:39pm

    @liberal teen
    I agree with the issue of lowering the voting age, in my opinion as you can leave school at 16, get a full time job at 16 and become independent at 16, you should be able to vote at 16. This country needs to set a boundary between being a dependent teenager/adolescent, and becoming a independent adult – if you so wish. That age should bet 16.

  • liberal teen 18th May '09 - 10:32pm

    I heartily agree Luke. It would also address the worrying problems of decreasing civic engagement, turnout etc. We need to get more young people interested in politics! The only party with the policies and ethos to do that is, in my opinion, the Libs.

  • Daniel Russell 19th May '09 - 6:35pm

    To all of the recent converts/members etc welcome to the party! It’s hard work being a Lib Dem but by far and away the nicest group of people you could hope to meet. I attended my first conference in Brighton in 1994 as a wide-eyed 19 year old. Everyone is accessible and willing to talk and you are taken seriously and can have a real say in policy.

    To the students, get joining Lib Dem Youth and Students and you will meet many like minded people of your own age, some of whom will be friends for life.

    Once again welcome.

  • Why does it take “the next few weeks” to get the membership card out? Has somebody lost the keys to the filing cabinet?

  • liberal teen 19th May '09 - 8:01pm

    I lost my memebership card… D’you reckon I could get another? how? (Sorry, a very mundane question, apologies!) Also its quite a cheap and flimsy little thing isn’t it?!

  • I’m also a new comer to the Liberal Democrats. I joined last week. I finished my degree in politics a few years ago and now work in public affairs. I voted for Labour at the last election, but that was to keep the tories out of the constituency I lived in. I’ve chosen the Lib Dems because of their stance on civil liberties, freedom and i believe them.

  • oh and my membership card came in about a week. And yes it is flimsy.

  • Sam Martin (formerly known as liberal teen) 20th May '09 - 12:03am

    Thought I’d ditch the childish username and properly introduce myself. Looking forward to getting properly involved on this site!
    Cheers Mark, really helpful.

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