Yesterday I resigned from the Liberal Democrats, the political party I have been a part of for the past eight years. Below is a copy of the letter I sent to Tony Jeacock, chairman of the Medway Liberal Democrats, setting out the reasons behind my decision.
It is with sadness today that I am writing to you to formally resign my membership of the Liberal Democrats. I believe that recent developments within both the national and local parties have rendered my position untenable.
As you will know, civil liberties have long been my “pet issue”, for want of a better term. It was Labour’s attempted introduction of ID cards while they were in power that led me to joining the Liberal Democrats as they put up a strong, robust, and ultimately successful defence against them. However, developments within the party in recent months have led to me to question exactly where our party stands on vital freedoms.
I can accept that within the nature of a coalition government, various compromises will inevitably occur. As such, I have been willing to not fight against, and even defend, a fair bit of what the government has done in the past three years. This is largely because the Liberal Democrats have achieved some genuinely great things in that time, with the £10,000 income tax threshold being chief among them. However, within the past few weeks, the party has lined up with the other major parties in doing nothing to stop both secret courts legislation and the royal charter on press regulation passing through the Commons. If our “red lines” aren’t reached on civil liberties issues, when will they ever be?
More locally, my position is even more uncomfortable. In the past two years, I have met some truly great people within the Medway Liberal Democrats who genuinely want to make their community better. Like the national party, I have disagreed on the way the party has acted on occasion (the infamous equal marriage motion in January being chief among them), but I have always continued to try and push the party forwards. Unfortunately, I no longer believe that the Medway Liberal Democrats can provide effective opposition to the Conservative administration in Medway.
Our organisation is lacking to say the least, and while other parties are able to be out campaigning week in, week out, we’ve managed one street stall in the first three months of 2013. We have no formal structure for developing policy, and despite my time here, still couldn’t tell you where the party or it’s membership stand on various local issues. That it often feels like we are “shouted down” merely for suggesting some kind of campaign makes me unwilling to continue with the status quo.
I have sadly come to the conclusion that I can do more to help improve Medway outside of the political system than within it. Power needs to be called to account in Medway, and I’m happy to do that, but doing so within the party is too limiting to be as effective as I would like.
That is not to say that I wish to remove myself from local politics. While I am resigning from the party, I am more than willing to support campaigns and candidates that further liberal values with the ends of improving Medway, I am just unwilling to do it from the within the party structure.
I should also note that while I am leaving the Liberal Democrats, it is not with the intention of joining any other established political party. While the Liberal Democrats have seemingly drifted away from the liberalism that led me here originally, they are still, in my eyes, “the lesser of the evils” politically. I bear no ill will toward the party, either nationally or locally, and I genuinely do wish you every success for the coming campaign in 2015.