This blog is from Kavya Kaushik, about debates within the party.
Being a Liberal Democrat means we’re in this beautiful place of free speech and democracy. The Lib Dems hold party democracy in high regard and members are fortunate enough to voice opinions directly to the party as and when we want.
Like the great British public, the Lib Dems love moaning. In the 21st century, we are lucky enough to have Twitter to voice every single grumble for other politicos to read. Yet, I’ve noticed a trend amongst Lib Dems. The following is a hypothetical scenario that I believe some of you may recognise.
Someone has decided that it is absolutely essential that the Liberal Democrats have a policy on an obscure subject that the rest of the country don’t really care about. The Conference Committee decides it’s a slow policy year so it’s gotten through to be debated at conference. Here’s an example: Zumba dance classes to be compulsory for all under-15s as a way to combat childhood obesity.
At this point, a third of the party will take to Twitter to voice their anger and frustration that the party is “losing its Liberal values”. The second third will also take to Twitter to voice their support for this exceptional policy that is “reiterating strong Liberal values”. The final third will be too busy knitting/beard grooming to care about this irrelevant policy.
The first group will then threaten to resign over the party’s plan to debate Zumba dance. ‘It is a terrible erosion of liberty etc etc’ and we will lose members. The second group will read these tweets and then threaten to resign because other members have a different interpretation of liberalism. The third group will continue to knit/twiddle their moustaches and sigh in exasperation because we’re not being liberal any more. They may skip their delivery round.
While all this Twitter drama unfolds: the Conservatives will release a populist policy; Labour will publicise a case study of the cuts hurting someone vulnerable; and Guido/Liberal Conspiracy will live blog “high profile defections” of people in the Lib Dems fighting about Zumba dancing. Nick Clegg will talk about income tax and no one will notice because absolutely every Lib Dem is fighting over “the definition of Liberalism” and Zumba dancing. No one will report our income tax policy.
My point is that, basically – liberalism is a broad church. A lot of stuff is defined as liberal and we should embrace that. We should embrace the diversity of opinion within our party as it echoes the diversity of the public’s opinion. We have enough of a battle as Lib Dems to get the public to see what we do in Government. Let’s spend some energy attacking other parties instead of ourselves all the time.
We’re lucky that we’re in a party where we have the freedom to threaten to resign once a week. But please be aware – we’re not always going to agree 100%. Let’s accept that, move on, and work together to make Britain liberal. Even if everyone has different interpretations for what “liberalism” means.
Kavya Kaushik likes cats and long walks on the beach. Talk to her on twitter @Kavya_Kaushik.
This article is solely the view of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Liberal Youth, the Liberal Democrats, not the editorship of the Libertine.