Why I became (and remain) a Lib Dem


Recently there’s been a lot of talk of people defecting to other parties – namely the Conservatives and Labour – and their exits have been felt very strongly within the Lib Dem community and have caused a ripple effect. Whilst I respect 100% someone’s political opinion and their reasons for defecting, I felt the need to say why I became a Lib Dem and why I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future.

Being involved with the BBC’s Generation 2015 panel surrounding the 2015 General Election opened up my eyes to something I’d never considered doing before, being a member of a political party. I sat there on the casting day and listened to people speak passionately about their party and that they’d been members since they were 14 and I couldn’t wrap my head around it. It came time for me to speak and I was asked my political affiliation and I went “Uh… I dunno? I’ve voted Liberal Democrat in every election I’ve been eligible to vote in but I’m not sure what my political affiliation would be.” It was met with laughter and calls of “tuition fees” and someone else saying “I hope you don’t make that mistake again.” But I did, and I don’t believe it to be a mistake.

Throughout the campaign I appeared on BBC radio and television and was doing more and more research myself on the individual political parties. Nothing stood out for me more than the fact I was saying what the Lib Dems stood for without realising it myself. After deliberating for some time, I joined in the run up to the election. I then met Danny Alexander and Lord Purvis at different events, both of them incredibly warm and welcoming to me.

After the election I met the wonderful Caron Lindsey. The first thing she ever said to be me was “You like Doctor Who?! You’ve definitely found the right party here.” I received a phone call from my local party welcoming me which was incredibly thoughtful. I then went on to meet Willie Rennie, Norman Lamb and Tim Farron and again not one of them made me feel any less than welcomed into essentially a large extended family of people who had very similar opinions to me – both political and otherwise.

I joined the Liberal Democrats because first and foremost we’re the only party making the right noises about mental health and its shocking inequality to physical health. The fact that services are being shut, having funding cut and in some cases not even being given the full monetary amount allocated to them sickens me.

I joined because the idea of a Snooper’s Charter is terrifying and the argument of “If you’ve got nothing to hide you shouldn’t be worried” just is not good enough in defence of it. It’s like saying “I don’t care about the right to free speech because I have nothing to say”.

I joined because I believe the Lib Dems offer the best solutions to issues such as housing and renewable energy. I joined because principles like liberty and equality are not something that should be aimed for, they’re something that should be a basic human right.

I joined because two consenting adults should have the ability to marry regardless of gender and the Lib Dems played a huge role in making that happen.

I joined because the government is failing when it comes to transgender rights and seems to think “we let same sex couples get married, we’re done”. We’re not done. LGBT+ inequality is rife and to brush it under the carpet solves literally nothing.

And finally, I joined because I’m a big believer in the EU. I’m no fool, I am aware of its shortcomings and its failings. But I’m also aware of the security and benefits that being a part of it brings and quite frankly I do not believe that the UK is capable at the minute of standing on its own on the world stage as we’re still a largely recovering economy and the years of uncertainty leaving the EU would bring do not seem like a risk I would want the country to take right now.

I’ve been a member for 8 months now and almost everyone I have met within the party solidifies it for me that I made the right decision and I look forward to the time ahead.

* Rebecca Plenderleith is a member in Dumbarton and blogs at Some Ramblings.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Thomas Shakespeare 21st Dec '15 - 11:30am

    Well said Rebecca! Thanks for your fantastic article. I joined just before the election and I too feel at home here.

  • +1 Rebecca

    I waited until after the disaster of an election, but joined for pretty much exactly the same reasons.

  • I’m a member of nearly 35 years and you are all very welcome.

  • Tony Greaves 21st Dec '15 - 6:01pm

    So where’s all this “talk” about people defecting? Not noticed it round here (or is it all chattering classes babble in places that don’t matter?)

    Tony Greaves

  • Samuel Griffiths 21st Dec '15 - 6:43pm

    A lot of people did leave the party, Tony. I’m not sure anyone is leaving anymore, though. The shift happened and how now stabilized. It is curious however Rebecca, that so many who left would agree with you on those many of those points. Such is the reality of image vs action in politics I suppose.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Dec '15 - 7:07pm

    Samuel Griffiths 21st Dec ’15 – 6:43pm The number of members is only part of it, but we should try to live up to the objectives set by the leader at the rally in Islington, which means stimulating activity and winning elections. It was obvious from Bournemouth conference that there is a lit of talent among the new membership which we should encourage.

  • REBECCA IS WONDERFUL!!! A truly positive , marvellously written article! Quite agree with some of the comments in response , let s here more from this talented new member . Rebecca, you shall face negativity , some who cannot , it would appear, bear a leader who they disagree with on an issue , or that the direction of travel is not in the right direction . Usually the objection is it s not in a left direction, but that’s another story !! What I mean is , be your own person , follow your instinct , but see every possibility of every argument at the same time, and you shall not only , not go wrong , my , my , but you shall put so much to right ! Great to have you in our party , your party , with us !!

  • Well said Rebecca, Thomas and Nick.
    Rebecca, I joined the then Liberal Party in my teens, now a member for over 40 years! Rebecca, your instinctive feelings are what they are, I also those many years ago just ‘felt’ I was liberal and the party was my natural home 🙂
    Tony Greaves, tisk tisk “chattering classes in places that don’t matter” sorry Tony, I helped in Lynne Featherstone campaign for last two general elections. We have the north London champagne/chatter socialists and I can assure you Haringey is ‘real’ Come and visit us on an action day!

  • Richard Boyd OBE DL 22nd Dec '15 - 6:35pm

    Well written. Well thought out. Well said! You are a credit to the thoughtful section of the community that is overlooked by the “posse politics” of the media, spying an issue and chasing it until they lose interest. Those that have an instant and
    short solution, to all the complexities of managing expectations, and dreams, that is real politics, are the same shallow know-alls we encountered in the playground. Good luck and keep going. I joined the Liberals in 1962, and the successors
    Lib.Dems when they were created, and have never regretted that decision. So, from a “Yesterday’s Man” to “Tomorrow’s
    Woman” Good Luck!

  • Nigel Jones 22nd Dec '15 - 8:05pm

    I disagreed with our leader on the way he handled the Syria bombing decision and the decision itself, but I am still keen to be in the party. I joined the Liberals in 1969, because I believe in equality for all, a country united in its diversities, where government takes particular care of the marginalised and non-conformists, but (unlike Labour) does not go in for unnecessary state interference in running things, nor in uniformity and (unlike the conservatives) does not allow the privileged and wealthy to live in the name of freedom in a way that harms the disadvantaged and less well-off. I also like its international (and therefore less inward-looking) approach to the world.
    In my experience of local government, Lib-Dems are also less dogmatic than any of the other parties and always look for practical solutions that deal with problems in a fair way.
    There will always be some points on which I will disagree with the party’s policy detail, but I hope we can attract more idealistic people like Rebecca who will seek to put our ideals in to practice without wanting to leave the party whenever we are not able to do that.

  • Richard I don t know you . I know enough to say you re not yesterday s man . Advice for tomorrow , cannot be given by yesterdays man , if he s if hes looking to another, and beyond today , hes he s already the n ,one of tommorrows men .

  • Richard apologies typing error, what it should have been is : Advice for tomorrow cannot be given by yesterday s man , if he s looking to another , and beyond today , he s already then one of tomorrow s men !!!!!!!!!!!

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