Friday, 4 July 2008

Cromwell, the Long Parliament and Shepway Liberal Democrats

Oliver Cromwell had an appropriate message for a particular individual in the light of tonight's events.

"You have sat here for too long for any
good you are doing. Depart, I say, and
let us have done with you. In the name
of God, go! "

The breaking news tonight is that there have been two further resignations from the Shepway Liberal Democrat group.

The ridiculous "groupthinking" that has been going on for years has got to come to an end and it is time to face up to the situation the local Party has got into. Enough is enough.

It is time to cut the personal abuse and time to get serious about the state the Party is in before it gets too late. The leadership needs to change and reform is urgent.

Decentralise the local Party by bringing back the branches (it is ridiculously overcentralised which has contributed to this mess), respect pluralism (which has not happened leading to a series of avoidable defections and people leaving the Party) and start running the Party for the benefit of the wider membership, not the narrow interests of a small group.

And finally, for good measure, for God's sake start realising that you win in politics when you build coalitions. Purist sectarianism is never going to get you where you need to be. You are not integrated into the local community in any significant way. None of you are involved with the local business community as far as I can discern and frankly the liberal and Liberal coalition has been so badly fragmented that it is going to take an absolute miracle to put it back together again. There has been a discernable paucity of strategic thinking going on since before the last General Election.

The Shepway Liberal Democrats was founded on the principles of pluralism, democracy and tolerance. Genuine Liberal principles. I should know, I was involved in bringing the Shepway Liberal Democrats into existence when I went to vote in Blackpool in 1988.

For the last couple of years it has increasingly been built on the ideas of "Democratic Centralism", de-facto Stalinist purges (thanks to the moronic behaviour of one or two individuals who have behaved appallingly and disrespectfully to some long-standing members) and "re-running elections when the result doesn't suit".

No wonder people of a Liberal persuasion have voted with their feet. It has become no longer a recognisable vehicle for Liberalism. For God's sake wake up!


Tiger Tiger said...

I don't know anything about the situation in Shepway specifically, but can't agree with you on branches - they are almost entirely a hindrance to effective campaigning and monumental waste of limited people resource. I'd advise any local party unfortunate enough to have them to work towards scrapping them as soon as they can. One day when we have 1,000+ members in a constituency we might look to reintroduce branches, but in the meantime please don't inflict them on people!

Toby Philpott said...

Sorry Tiger. Naturally I strongly disagree. My experience over a number of Constituencies is that branches have AIDED campaigning. They also have increased the sense of belonging of members. The Folkestone and Hythe Parliamentary Constituency is quite far flung having a significant rural hinterland as well as a 20 mile coastal line.

In my dealings with members out in the rural areas people often commented to me that they strongly regretted and even resented the loss of branches.

I have also been involved in setting up branches in other Constituency parties in the past and I've found that they have galvanised activism and enabled members to become more active who otherwise might not have got involved. Durham City was a particular case in point where there have been several active branches.