Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Being a Liberal in a Labour Society

This is a blog post I've been meaning to write since October. I am a member of the University of Leicester's Labour Society much to the annoyance of the neighbouring De Montfort University's Labour Society who see my presence at some jointly held events as somehow breaking the rules. While I don't mention my LibDem membership at events, most of the UoL society do know and don't seem to mind too much but I've decided to run through just why I joined because I get asked about it a lot and writing it down seemed a reasonable way of making it make sense!

At Fresher's Fair I joined both the Labour and Conservative societies (unfortunately there isn't a Liberal Youth) in the hope that it would lead to me making more politically involved friends and get me to some good events. As it turned out I never actually went to any Conservative society events but that was no big loss, I wanted to get involved in local politics in Leicester and in Leicester politics is either Labour or bust - when 52/54 councillors, all 3 MPs and the elected mayor all belong to the same party you really don't have much of a choice!

Two guys I lived next door to last year (and who I'm subsequently living with next year) are Labour members so I went along to the first meeting with them. The meeting was very interesting and I could see this society would give me the debate and political contact I had been looking for but during the course of the hour three or four different people offered me a Labour party membership form. I was willing to join the society but am in no way inclined to leave the Liberal Democrats so I managed to avoid filling one in and left the meeting with no intention of going back. On the way out I got chatting to the Campaigns Sabb officier who persuaded me to registered as a candidate for our Union Parliament along with the guys I attended the meeting with. When we went to the meeting about those elections the next day the chair of the Labour Society was there and came over to discuss the possibility of running together under a Labour banner. I told him that I hadn't actually joined the society along with my reason why but he assured me it was fine and I was welcome to run supporting them anyway which I did and we got elected.

Unfortunately (and this seems to be a weakness of Liberal Democrats everywhere in the last 18 months) I didn't make my membership-but-not-quite of Labour clear to the Union Parliament who now all assume I'm one of them. I also never properly explained this to the DMU society - mainly because I didn't realise I had to - and I've been asked to not to make my LibDemness known the people at events. As if someone actually believed I would walk into a room with David Miliband no less (the event in question happened to be a Q&A with him) bedecked in yellow rosettes and reading aloud from the Liberal Democrat manifesto. I joined the society to make a bit of a difference locally and to meet new people; I know I'm not a full member so I don't go canvassing or fund raising, I didn't put myself forward to go to the National Labour Youth Conference (indeed I doubt the society would ask me to) and I don't see why a little bit of cross party working has caused such a fuss!

That said if anyone can help me set up a Liberal Youth at the University of Leicester or who knows anyone who can, drop me a line here or on Twitter @rebelrevell :D

Sunday, 18 December 2011

I'm back (again)

Okay okay I fail at the whole 'update more than once in a blue moon' thing but I'm having another go. Mainly because I'm fed up and like having a moan.

I'm a lib dem. I'm a member of a economic liberal group on facebook but I'm also a kind-of member of the Social Liberal Forum. It's been implied that I can't be both but I don't see why not! Why are the ideas social and economic liberalism so contradictory? I believe in the free market and less regulation for business but also that the poorest in society should be given a helping hand by being taken out of tax and schools given extra money to help for its most disadvantaged students? I always thought the Liberal Democrats were the only party without ridiculously tribal elements but it turns out this is complete crap. I'd really fed up of an economic liberal friend bitching about the Social Liberal Forum as if being vaguely left wing was some kind of hippy movement to be discarded as having no worth. And the SLF seem to think the economic liberals are Tories in disguise, sent to infiltrate the party and turn us all over to the other side.

The people I follow on Twitter seem to be torn between identifying as Tory Liberals or Labour Liberals and keep trying to debate where we should align ourselves in the run up to 2015. I don't see why we have to do either, we're our own party with our own sets of values and ideas and I know we're not going to win a majority at the next election - god knows we'll be lucky to keep the seats we have - but we shouldn't align ourselves with anyone. I think we're a party well placed to work with elements of either of the other two parties and Nick was right in what he said in the run up to the last election: in the event of a hung parliament we should talk to both parties but ultimately the electoral math decides.

We're not the Conservatives. We stand up for all members of the public regardless of wealth, class, gender etc which is more than can be said for them. We aren't torn apart by internal divisions (much as it seems as above) over Europe or religion and we should not be ashamed to stand up and say when we disagree with our Coalition partners.

We're not the Labour Party. Their internal divisions are the worse of any party and will never be a cohesive group. Some of the things they accomplished in their 13 years in office were admirable, it was pointed out on Twitter than their record on gay rights was fantastic, but they are a new party with a new leader and harping on about past victories whilst languishing on the Opposition Benches without a single idea and a 'blank page' approach to their policies. 

We're the fucking Liberal Democrats and I'm fed up of people trying to tell me otherwise!


One policy that's got my attention and that's the Tories favourite policy of tax breaks for married people. I'm fantastically proud of Nick's response to it because it shows how out of date some Conservatives are. I can't think of any justification for giving money to married couples that makes any sense! If 77% of people think a single parent can form a family and 59% think a same-sex couple can be a family then why do the Conservatives cling to this rose-tinted vision of an ideal past that never existed where father went out to work and mother stayed at home to raise the children? It's utter crap and I'm glad the Coalition Agreement does not bind our MPs into supporting this ridiculous policy.


One last thing, Aidan Burley's firing. This stag party is made to sound like a Max Mosely-style Nazi orgy (by the Daily Mail, obviously) but from the video footage I've seen it appears to be some men sat around a table with one of them wearing a military hat. If Mr Burley has been to a Nazi-themed stag do I can only conclude he was drunk (not exactly a fireable offence, especially given it was a stag do) or that his friends are idiots and I very much doubt this is something unique to him!

Before this I didn't know who this man was and my opinion now is that the man is harmless, if a little prone to mistakes under the influence of alcohol and the company of his friends. In my opinion this isn't a firing offence and if Cameron would have had any balls he'd have said that.


With any luck I'll remember to post again some time before Easter!!