Mar. 14th, 2012 11:17 am
hollymath: (liberal)
[personal profile] hollymath
I'm sympathetic to Lib Dems who want to leave the party lately.

I really am. I don't like how some things are going, any more than anyone else.

But at the same time... I see it a bit like the conference accreditation row last autumn: if everyone who objects to being CRB-checked doesn't go, we are leaving our Conference to the people who don't care about that.

The Lib Dems are a broad church, and it's obvious already that there's a pretty big split between a lot of the rank-and-file and the leadership. If all of us who are hurt or outraged or disappointed leave, they will be totally unencumbered in doing what they want.

I know if we keep passing policy motions that aren't honored in the votes of our parliamentarians, it seems like we're not encumbering them as is. This is disappointing to me to an almost visceral level. But I would feel even more helpless, I think, if I left the party.

Also I'm aware there's a lot of FUD going around about the NHS Bill, which is the current thing that seems to have sparked off so much drama. Andrew's read the bill and is sick of the scaremongering, loaded language, and other stupid, emotive, unehlpful stuff being said about it that isn't backed up by things like the words in it, or facts, or reality.

As well as whatever problems we're finding with the Lib Dems' policies and actions themselves, we're also being attacked by everyone we know who knows we're a Lib Dem. A frivolous fingernail-paring of an LJ entry of mine was hijacked by someone I haven't had much to do with at all in the last six or seven years, who suddenly wanted me to validate her displeasure with the Lib Dems and her pre-existing intent to join a different party. The comment threads that ensued did no good at all for Andrew's or my stress levels or mental health. I don't mind those sorts of debates when I'm up for them (and you can tell when I'm up for them, because I'll write something like this, but I don't appreciate having to be ready to defend myself every waking moment just because I'm a member of a political party.

I personally feel quite distant from a lot of it -- my local party actively discourages involvement, and I'm not really a political blogger or twitterer -- so everything I've done in the past couple of years for the Lib Dems has been for LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, and it's been immensely satisfying to see the progress that's been made in that time. We have a really good equalities minister in Lynne Featherstone. Nick Clegg has said the first gay same-sex marriage will take place during this Parliament. Steps have already been taken toward equal marriage (with civil partnerships now allowed to be religious) and ending the homophobic blood bban (the naughty men who sleep with men are now banned for a year instead of for life), which is heartening as we continue on.

And it's worth remembering that the Lib Dems haven't single-handedly made the country a hellish dystopia. Yes I know a lot of people expect better of us -- I do too! -- but we are making things better too. Yes, not everything. Yes, not even some things that are important to me and you. That sucks, a lot, but the choice to be made isn't between this and a world where the Lib Dems were nice enough to give everyone cake and a mansion to live in. It's between the coalition and, most likely, a Tory government -- which wouldn't have made the 1000+ amendments to the NHS bill that the Lib Dems have, wouldn't care about bringing in equal marriage, wouldn't raise the income tax threshold or help out chlidren or old people, wouldn't restore civil liberties.

Yes, a lot of things still suck. But I'm sticking around because of, not in spite of that. I don't want to live in a world where the things I care about are decided by the people who don't care about them because everyone who does care has gone off to write eloquent blog posts instead.

At last Autumn Conference, one of the speakers (pale, male, smug) started by saying something like "I don't know why there's all this fuss about accreitation this time. After all, we're all still here, aren't we?"

And even if I had no other reasons to like and admire [personal profile] miss_s_b, the immediacy, strength and volume with which she shouted "No, we're not!" would've been enough to make me do so. Immediately joined by the rest of the Awkward Squad around her. I was proud to be sitting with them.

There have to be those voices. Because there will always be people given positions of authority which they will use to stand up and say "I don't see what the problem is." And I can't stand the idea that there might be no one there to tell them.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-14 01:34 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
You articulate this so much better than I can.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-14 08:37 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
I'd like to write more, but I fear the sort of thing you talk about, having semi-random people venting at me when I don't have the energy to reply properly.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-14 09:35 pm (UTC)
miss_s_b: (Love: PJ & Nick)
From: [personal profile] miss_s_b
I hereby promise to never stop shouting at people in positions of authority who don't see what the problem is.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-15 11:43 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Thanks for writing this.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-17 09:05 pm (UTC)
rhythmaning: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rhythmaning
I also want to say thanks for writing this! I an much les active than you - I've never been to conference, though I campaign locally.

I am split about how I feel: I want the govt to be more liberal - but we don't have a Liberal govt!

I believe the Lib Dems are a positive influence on the govt - I shudder to think what a wholly Tory govt would have been like - and I am proud of a lot Lib Dems have achieved. (Lynne Featherstone is mgt MP and I am particularly pleased with her agenda.)

I shall stay a member because I think the Lib Dems most accurately reflect my views.

A,nyhow thanks for posting! (And I got here via Jennie Rigg.)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-14 02:48 pm (UTC)
ext_550458: (Clegg checks the omens)
From: [identity profile]
Absolutely, to all of this, and especially the feeling that now we are where we are, it is better to be in and influencing things than out and not. I had missed the hijacking of your vacuuming thread, and am very sorry to see what happened there. I've experienced similar unsolicited vitriol myself, and it's definitely made me rein in the extent to which I feel safe talking about Lib Demmery, even on the issues where I am unambiguously confident and proud of our record (e.g. LGBT+ matters). The one comfort, which I can see on your vacuuming thread as well, is the lovely Lib Dem friends who will step in and defend us in these cases, even when we are too tired and ground down by other things to do it ourselves. So three cheers for backing each other up, and here's me resolving to do that in future cases where I can see the need.
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-15 01:25 am (UTC)
ext_8176: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Quite. If I want to know what's wrong with the government from a tub-thumping left-liberal perspective, I can read it in lots of places actually no, actually if I want to read a bullshit-laden pile of trumped-up scare stories which deserve a similar amount of respect to whoever it was made Tony Blair a sodding peace envoy to the Middle East, then I have plenty of places to read them!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-15 11:22 am (UTC)
ext_550458: (C J Cregg)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, you have just listed pretty much exactly the people who inspired me to join up in the first place! And I agree about your 'no-ammunition' policy. If e.g. battalions of journalists were out there bigging up our achievements for us, I'd feel happier about publicly pointing out the places where we aren't doing well enough. But (with occasional exceptions in the Independent and FT), they're not, and the result is that most people out there don't even know about our successes - only our failures. I don't want to make that even worse.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-15 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I wonder if ths is an LJ thing? I've noticed that since moving to DW comment count has gone down a bit (but not massively) but drama has almost totally ceased.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-15 11:44 am (UTC)
ext_550458: (Darth blogging)
From: [identity profile]
I don't think so, as it's happened to me in real life and on Facebook, too. I think it's likely to be more about the general difference in the way we have presented our Lib Demmery to others than about the specific platforms we're doing it on. You've been a member longer than me, say things like "I am a proud Lib Dem and make no apology for it" on the front page of your blog, and regularly speak out confidently about your reasons for being a member and the details of party policy. I've joined much more recently, and have tended not to write about or engage in discussion about party policy online since. I suspect this means that most people reading your blog recognise that you have a clear, strong stance on the matter, and have already seen you defending yourself forcefully when attacked, so have given up trying to teach you the Error of Your Ways - but this is not the case for me. I guess I could choose to put the energy and time into arguing my case online until I got to the same point where you are now, and if I had infinite time and energy I probably would. But since I don't, it isn't my top priority.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-15 04:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I get it in real life, or have done. I think the nub of what you say is this bit:

regularly speak out confidently

... which is certainly what stops it happening in real life. I've wiped enough smug patronising smiles of enough smug patronising faces for people to realise I'm not worth the bother.

I also understand why you think it's not a priority to put time and energy into getting to this point. I think that is I were in your shoes I'd probably think the same; however, having been a non-conformist, and teased or worse for it, my entire life, the habit is so ingrained in me now that I don't think I could NOT be gobby about my opinions if I tried...

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-16 12:01 pm (UTC)
ext_550458: (One walking)
From: [identity profile]
Funnily enough, the postscript to this conversation is that I found this comment in my inbox yesterday after getting back from a really positive three-hour canvassing session, during which I took on topics on the doorstep such as the NHS, tuition fees and houses in multiple occupation, and really bloody enjoyed it! I guess in that situation, I'm presenting myself in a similar guise to the one you strike on your blog - I'm wearing a Lib Dem badge, and opening the conversation by saying that I'm calling round on behalf of the local Lib Dem candidate, so while people might say they don't want to vote for us, they probably know there's not much point trying to tell me I shouldn't be a Lib Dem at all. Anyway, I'm looking forward to a good few more sessions like that between now and May 3rd - and that definitely is an activity worth prioritising some time and energy for. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-14 07:01 pm (UTC)
barakta: (Default)
From: [personal profile] barakta
What's the point though? They don't listen to those voices and I honestly don't believe short of blowing them up that anyone would listen any more.

  • #Spartacus report was not read or acted on despite showing the significant harmful impact, corruption of process and utter fail which was #WRB. If that wasn't "playing the game" I don't know what could be.

  • George Potter has done some great work and even met with Jenny Willetts and got nowhere except apologism. Why didn't Jenny say "this is fucked, we're not supporting this?" Even a vote against from her personally would have meant something. "Oh well, sorry" isn't good enough.

  • There was a motion against ESA reform and some of the fail in that as part of #WRB at a recent LD conference

    ........... yet LDs almost all voted for the #WRB and there has been no censure at all against any of them.

    "We can't afford it" doesn't wash when Trident is still running.
    "The budgets were locked..." doesn't wash when they could have refused to vote for it and forced a rethink.

    Where there is a will, there will be a way!

    In addition...
    While the LD's coalition partners were spewing disability and welfare benefit claimant hatred not a single LD in a position of power spoke publicly against that hatred. Jenny Willetts reassuring Potter that IDS and Grayling had been censured was too little, too late. The harm has already been done and the momentum is such that the disability hatred no longer needs state sanctioned and funded encouragement to keep going. The silence from the LDs on this hatred is passive support and makes each and every one of them complicit!

    I don't believe the Equal Marriage has been a hard fight, I believe they as an issue it has a lot of significant support and it's only a minority and the cranky old farts in some of the Established Churches TM who seem to be that bothered, everyone else is like "yeah, get on with it already". Yes there will be constitutional wrangling but it's far from impossible. It's an easy sell and Cameron can happily "pander" to it to give the LDs a "concession" when actually he's up for it already.

    I also consider the taking people out of tax to be a fairly easy sell for the LDs as it benefits the middle incomers (a substantial part of Tory support) "hard working, harder up than they'd like families" "Alarm clock Britain" as well and is an easy way of taking some people out of benefits who should never have been on them. However this for the sake of argument (numbers pulled out of arse alert) benefits the bottom 20-40% of society most and conveniently hides the constant attack on the bottom 20% who may for various reasons be unable to be "Alarm clock Britons". In many ways this feels like a huge cover up, silencing and invisibilisation and justification for supporting the Utter Fail which has been #WRB.

    While I am a traditional LD voter, I took my vote really seriously in 2010. I read every manifesto I could get my hands on. I scrutinised each one. I hate Tories on principle "Government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich" but I still read their manifesto. I even read the Greens and UKIPs ones in detail.

    I voted for LDs because as well as being generically sensible and closest to my general political thinking they seemed to "grok it". Recognised social model. Recognised real barriers to employment for disabled people and had a sensible, moderate, workable plan to make gradual and sustainable changes to lower and remove those barriers before sanctioning disabled (and carers and and and) people.

    That "grok" hasn't come through since being in coalition. That is not part of the 75%! Welfare reform was never going to be easy for thr LDs looking at election manifestos of the parties pre 2010 election, but I don't think that means that it isn't worth fighting for.

    I want a political party which tries even when it's hard and not not just when it's easy. Voting and losing would have meant something. Speaking out would have meant something.

    Right now I'm left with no one I am willing to vote for. Whether I vote for LDs under duress or spoil my paper next election I don't know.
  • (no subject)

    Date: 2012-03-15 03:05 pm (UTC)
    barakta: (Default)
    From: [personal profile] barakta
    I think I am so disgusted with the LDs since coalition that I think the entire lot deserves to be blown up and destroyed because it's endemically corrupt and full of fail. I'm seeing not enough evidence that the LDs in power are the liberal and democratic people that believe in social justice like they claim - all mouth and no trousers which is a sickeningly normal position to see people in especially where diversity and civil and social justice is concerned.

    Especially not when the disability hatred and fail just keeps on coming and they cannot say that they have not been told that they are peddling LIES. If Lynne Featherstone is supposed to be one of the good guys she's doing a really shite job of being it in the latest hatecrime publication I linked to recently. She cannot claim she doesn't know about disability hatecrime being fuelled by the fucking Tories (coalition partners!) yet the sodding document claims improving the benefits system will reduce disability hate crime... No mention of the hatespewing misleading factfail there then?

    I don't believe the Lib Dems are salvageable now, they have lost so many people and are disintegrating rapidly. They could have done good in coalition, I genuinely believed the coalition would be a good thing. They could have fought (and lost!) some really valuable stuff and won some more important stuff and not fucked up their membership. But instead they screwed up their PR, let the leadership support lies and insult people and generally behaved like fucking children.

    (no subject)

    Date: 2012-03-15 12:37 am (UTC)
    ext_8176: (Default)
    From: [identity profile]
    One of the confusing things from the outside, even for a lot of us from the inside, is that we will properly debate something like the NHS reforms at conference. And people will heckle properly and not be charged with terrorism. And then because we believe in representative democracy rather than "delegates", Peers and MPs will have a think about it rather than doff their caps and obey.

    The whole "conference makes policy but cannot mandate parliamentarians" thing is something that I remember having conversations about years ago with another Lib Dem wonk in a "this will come and bite us on the arse one day" sort of a way. It's so complex and nuanced and worse there is nothing we can really compare it with in UKanian politics, cos the other parties variously have Moon On A Stick policymaking, Whatever The Leader Says policymaking, or Pass Any Policy You Like The Parliamentary Party And Manifesto Are Entirely Independent Of Conference policy making. Oh, wait, I forgot the co-operative party's Pass Any Policy You Like Cos We'll Be Asking Another Party Which Way To Vote setup.

    Whereas... well by my reckoning, strictly what we do is pass policy which the FPC then cherrypicks into a manifesto, thus leaving out things like a section on human rights for goldfish. And if we win a general election (ooops, get back on-message softfruit, I mean when, ahem) then LO! we have a programme of government. Which we will then deviate from due to Events Dear Boy Events, but gives us a pretty clear steer.

    But conference really makes policy for Next Time Around when we're in government. In some ways it's as well - otherwise a little entryism work and you could dictate the government policy of the day. If Shell wants to make all the new power stations oil ones, they just sign up all their staff as members and exercise a block vote. Countryside Alliance can bring back fox hunting if they can find a million quid in member subs down the back of the sofa. Not good, that. And the same principle would dictate Local Party meetings could mandate Councillors which way to vote on issues, which in a few places would mean you could buy the council for about a grand. Which is a hell of a thing to solve. Democracy good; easily bought democracy ...well, if we believed in that we'd've joined one of the more popular parties :P

    Also we are a collection of wilful and awkward buggers. If conference mandated members to eat meat, I might actually go out and eat a vegetable, just to show'em. (Only one though, and I probably won't swallow.)

    There is a factor, though, that MPs depend on the proverbial rank and file to get them re-elected, so if you're an MP then you need to be sure you only alienate so many people. There are certain Lib Dem MPs who it's helpful I don't live in their seat when it comes to the "shall I leaflet?" question.


    While I'm here, but on a bit of a different point: so much of the shouting is at the Lib Dems when it would be so much more tactically wise to do it at the Tories. - if one in nine Tories thinks it's a bad idea, it's dead; it takes more than two in three Liberals to have the same effect, cos of the different sizes of the parliamentary parties.

    (no subject)

    Date: 2012-03-15 02:59 pm (UTC)
    barakta: (Default)
    From: [personal profile] barakta
    if one in nine Tories thinks it's a bad idea, it's dead; it takes more than two in three Liberals to have the same effect, cos of the different sizes of the parliamentary parties.

    Difference is I knew the tories were shits. Government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. I had no expectations of them other than shittery. I don't trust them on civil liberties and I saw straight through their election manifesto propaganda for the hateful shits (like Labour) that they are.

    I believed the LDs were better than that, and one major part of my devastation is how like the Tories the LDs have become.

    We haven't had significant LD challenge to things like the Welfare Reform or the NHS, we've had bullshit, apologism, silence and more bullshit.

    See my entry on hatecrime, Lynne Featherstone's face plastered all over a document which is using hateful disablist media misinformation to perpetuate support for the welfare reform in order to reduce disablity hatecrime which was largely started by coalition partners who were not challenged by anyone! It's so endemic and it is clearly ideological and the LDs cannot say that that is not their ideology while they stand silently and plaster their faces over such shite and lies. Especially not when people keep trying to convince me Lynne is one of the good guys - cos she can't be if she's peddling this hateful shite. If I can find a spoon Lynne will be receiving a polite but W T F! complaint with facts backup from me about it and citing this as yet another reason I'm disillusioned and devastated.

    The behavior of the LD leadership "Alarm clock Britons" and insulting people they disagree with and the whole NHS fiasco is basically a fiasco and a definite PR disaster. Fucking children the lot of them. If they can't get beyond that I want nothing to do with it.

    (no subject)

    Date: 2012-03-15 01:29 am (UTC)
    ext_8176: (Default)
    From: [identity profile]
    Of course, joining the Greens in protest at the Lib-Lab-Con may turn out to be less rewarding when someone notices that their MP has followed the Labour whip on (unless I've missed one) every division but one this parliament. You probably get more anti-Labour points with a proper Labour MP...
    (deleted comment)

    (no subject)

    Date: 2012-03-15 08:09 am (UTC)
    ext_8176: (Default)
    From: [identity profile]
    I think I was ahead of you on account of hanging out with people who pay attention to European Parliament affairs more - she already had a reputation for cutting cross-party agreement deals and then at the last minute tabling ultra-green amendments that she knew would fail, in order to claim the moral high ground and that the others had voted against xyz.

    (no subject)

    Date: 2012-03-15 07:58 pm (UTC)
    From: [identity profile]
    I think the comments on this post exactly sum up my position re my membership - very close to saying 'A plague on all your houses' but not quite. The welfare reform bill and as Barakta says, the lack of any statement against it by the LDs in the Commons or Lords has left me disgusted and contemptuous of the elected party, despite having a lot of respect for the individual members I know.


    hollymath: (Default)

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