Two of my recent posts have documented my decision to join the Liberal Democrats, after many years of supporting Labour. It’s nearly four weeks since making this somewhat momentous decision, and is perhaps an appropriate time to reflect on it.
In terms of communications, the LibDems have not exactly excelled so far. I would have expected to have received a welcome pack by now, for example. I have joined a couple of Facebook groups, and liked some of their pages, so I see some of what is being posted on line. Similarly I’m following the relevant Twitter feeds. It’s all a bit quiet just now, but maybe things will liven up a bit next month when the conference season starts.
In terms of politics, I’ve realised that I can never be a traditional Liberal, but I am more aligned with the former Social Democrat Party (SDP) which merged with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Democrats in 1988. Whether the combined party still has enough Social Democrat character in it for me remains to be seen!
In 1981 the SDP was formed as a result of Labour moving to the left, and, depending on the outcome of the leadership election, something similar could happen again. My decision to leave Labour (back in 2013) has been vindicated by the very fact that Jeremy Corbyn is being viewed as a realistic leadership contender. I despair when I hear it said that his campaign has somehow ‘energised’ the party, and led to people joining who would not have done so previously. Are their eyes and ears closed to reality? I am as against austerity as a doctrine as is Corbyn, but the deficit can’t just be ignored in hope that it will go away (look at what has happened in Greece!). I had hoped that Labour would have pursued more of a ‘deficit reduction by growth as an alternative to austerity’ agenda in the last parliament, but it never seemed to figure prominently in the Ed Miliband/Ed Balls plans. That was one of the many frustrations that led to my final separation from the party. It was a policy that has never had the discussion and consideration it deserves, despite the fact that it worked successfully in the USA (for example).
So, for now, I am a member of the LibDems, and I will do what I can to promote those of their policies I can closely identify with, including EU membership and human rights, and in so doing, try to help them to improve their position. The outcome of the Labour leadership election is still nearly a month away, but what happens then will be significant. If it led to a split, and the formation of an ‘SDP mark 2’, that might be a better home for me. I’ll have to wait and see.