‘And it was all yellow’ – Why I’m considering defection to the Liberal Democrats.

CLARIFICATION – THIS BLOG AND MY DEFECTION FROM LABOUR DO NOT RELATE TO EXETER LABOUR PARTY OR BEN BRADSHAW MP. I HAVE SEEN NOTHING BUT INTEGRITY FROM PEOPLE I CALL FRIENDS IN MY LOCAL LABOUR PARTY. SUGGESTION OTHERWISE IS CATEGORICALLY FALSE.

Since writing this I have cancelled my Labour membership and joined the Liberal Democrats-

Every time I have ever seen the old opinion-poll question of ‘If there was an election next week who would you vote for?’ my answer has always been a split-second no-brainer; I would vote Labour. There is, however, an election next week and for the first time I do not know into which box I am going to put my cross. For someone who has been chair of a branch of Labour Students, who has stuffed countless envelopes  for council, European and Parliamentary elections, who has walked endless miles with a Secretary of State in the last Labour Government campaigning for his re-election and who has attended the count in a Labour rosette, this is rather a jolt.

What it is not, however, is a knee-jerk reaction or a rash moment of disillusionment. Rather, it is the result of eighteen-months of soul searching, of listening to the arguments and evaluating the policies, or absence thereof. I no longer feel that the Labour Party represents me, represents the values I hold or the ideas I believe in nor that represents the best interests of this country as a whole. The Labour Party I joined, the Labour Party I worked tirelessly for and the politicians I sought to elect were Blairites. They were modern, forward thinking and inclusive. New Labour won three General Elections. New Labour, as proclaimed proudly by the new leadership, is dead.

My problems with the Labour Party as an organisation have always been present. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the word ‘Comrade’ being used to greet me on entering a constituency office or reading a local party email. I’m not a massive fan of the word ‘socialist’ being used to describe the party on the back of its membership cards. The number of people within the party who would like to see the reinstating of Clause 4 and a return to the halcyon days of Foot-esque leftism with shouts of ‘We’re not left-wing enough’ deeply concerns me. Sadly it is not them that are in the minority but me.

I’m pro-business, pro-wealth, pro-private sector investment, pro-individual responsibility. I’m in favour of a benefits cap because I don’t believe the State should subsidise someone’s lifestyle, merely enable them to continue with their life. I want to see lower taxes for people in general. I don’t think the tax system should be punitive to the rich and aggressive towards wealth creators. Punitive taxation for the richest is not a necessity to have fairer taxes for the poorest. The Coalition Government, in cutting the top rate of tax and cutting corporation tax and at the same time announcing the increase in the personal allowance, have shown Liberal Democrat drive and Liberal Democrat values. The Labour Party and its membership, bar a few increasingly out-of-place New Labour Blairites, are about more spending, more handouts, more debt, more tax as punishment for prosperity and less individual responsibility. This is not a sentiment which I want to be associated with. It is certainly not one I can defend on the doorsteps.

The Labour Party talks of an anointed cabal at the top of Government. The hypocrisy of this sentiment coming from a party such as Labour is ludicrous. Labour is a party where some members have three votes in a leadership election and some only one, where the front-bench are made up of the same rich intelligentsia as the Government benches, where the Trades Unions can hold the Party to ransom and where the next generation of leaders are brought up through Labour Students, an organisation which is untransparent, undemocratic, unfair and whose leadership is anointed not elected.

The class-warfare that the Labour Party is launching on the Government is shameful. It is not the kind of politics a serious Opposition should be engaging in. Mr Miliband should understand better than many that it is not your background that defines you but your ideas. If he believes that governments should not be run by privileged, sheltered millionaires then he and his Shadow Cabinet should hand in their resignations tomorrow morning.

My problem does not lie solely with Ed Miliband, though. With the exception of his brother (who perfectly demonstrates that a lack of charisma is fraternal), the other leadership candidates were just as bad, just as outdated, just as out-of-touch with reality. What is worrying is that the membership is, generally, more left-wing than the leadership. The old adage that Labourites love being a shouty, left-wing opposition is apparently true.

I think all that is enough to safely enable me to say I no longer feel at home in the Labour Party. So, what next? Well I am not a Tory, although I would be more comfortable being labelled a conservative than a socialist. I think that the Tory focus on big business rather than the small- and medium-sized businesses that must be the backbone of the recovery is too much. The Tory Party membership is generally to the right of its leadership much as Labour’s is to the left. Labour tolerated Blair because he won, the Tories tolerated Cameron because he, just about, does the same.

The Liberal Democrats, I do believe, are different. Taking time to see through the vitriol which I am as guilty as any of spouting I can see a Party that really believes in something. There is Liberal Democrat influence in Government, although this influence is of course relative to its status within the Coalition. I’ve read the Coalition Agreement, I’ve pored over every facet of party policy and I’ve found myself nodding along in wholehearted agreement to the vast majority. The Liberal Democrats elect their leader, one member, one vote unlike Labour. Conference decides party, although of course not government, policy. Liberal Youth is transparent and welcoming, unlike Labour Students. Liberal Democrats believe in what their party stands for, if they don’t, they vote to change it. Conservative and Labour canvassers often disagree with what they’re spouting on the doorsteps. I know, I’ve been asked to lie for Labour.

I’m well aware that a Liberal Democrat majority government is unlikely. I know that people don’t vote Liberal Democrat because the other two spread the fiction that a Liberal Democrat vote is really either a Tory/Labour one. I know, I’ve been told to spread this message too. I also know, however, that I agree with their policies more than others. I know I respect the way they do things. I also know joining the Liberal Democrats will provoke a backlash of abuse from all sides, in fact some Labourites have already started it.

I still believe that there is a place for idealism in politics, that there are arguments that can be won, that a vote does not simply have to be red or blue. Socialist or Tory. Standing in the voting booth on Thursday will be the deciding moment for me. To quote Robert Frost, ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood […] and I took the one less travelled by and that made all the difference’.

After all politics is not about doing what is easy but about doing what is right.

105 responses to “‘And it was all yellow’ – Why I’m considering defection to the Liberal Democrats.

  1. It pains me so much that people like you are the future.

  2. Kavya Kaushik

    Everything you say is true and awesome. The Lib Dems will love you and we have mega raves. The worst bit about defections are how aggressive and abusive members from other parties are. Lib Dems are friendly and amazing. xx

    • What Kav said, essentially. I joined in August 2011 and everyone made me feel really welcome. I now have a lovely Lib Dem family and am enjoying the aforementioned mega raves😉 Join us, we have cookies!

  3. georgewpotter1066

    Join the liberals, we have Clegg and Cable’s Credit Crunch (TM) cholocate bars!

  4. Lib Dems are the only liberal and progressive party, which is why I vote for them. Am considering joining too

    • Liberal & progressive? Tell that to the disabled people I know who are having £99 taken off them per week because your party is in a coalition with the devil.

      You ought to be ashamed of yourselves in using that phrase.

      • I’ve read all your comments Steve and I thought the phrase ‘The empty tin rattles the loudest’ was very apt.

  5. If you do change please apologise to those who have supported you to win or assist in any elected capacity as it’s only fair. Other than that – your comments are welcome.

  6. All I can say is welcome! We, as a party, will try our best to make you feel at home🙂

  7. And glee club…

    But seriously, the Coalition is far from a match made in heaven for the Lib Dems, there’s difficult choices to be made compromises to be reached and sadly, yes, plans to be shelved. All we can hope is that we continue to deliver on more of our manifesto promises than we don’t.

    Current standing has Lib Dems in Government implementing 75% of their manifesto.

    Still, the struggle to maintain a distinct identity for the Lib Dems whilst in government with the Tories is a daily battle. Especially as electioneering on behalf of both opposition parties and the Conservatives (except their loony right-wing) are determined to homogenise us into a single mass.

    So we need more principled people who understand the nuances of party political persuasions and who can help us maintain our distinct voice by being a distinct voice within the party.

    • You really do believe in your own propaganda don’t you.

    • Tom Knight

      If you think the claim that ‘the Lib Dems are implementing 75% of their election manifesto’ is supposed to endear you to the electorate, you’re barking. Have you taken a look outside?

      Incidently the original post is completely devoid of anything interesting and just repeats a lot of tabloid top lines as arguments.

      No self-respecting LD would welcome a ‘Bairite’ on board but I guess you guys are desperate…

    • I think implementing 75% of the Liberal Democrat Manifesto will endear us to Liberal Democrats and it shows a pretty clear commitment to implementing our agenda, we are not in government to prop up the Tories, we are in government to make Britain more liberal.

      I suspect that will upset socialists, but frankly I don’t care Liberal Democrats are not in politics for socialists, we are in politics for Liberal Democrats. Simples…

  8. Like Kavya said, the Lib Dems will be lovely and welcoming to you. I joined in August 2011 and in less than a year I have a Lib Dem family🙂 It’s really horrible that people would make abusive comments over a personal decision about what you feel is right.

  9. Lev Eakins

    Your analysis of politics at the moment is both honest and accurate. You’d be very welcome in the Liberal Democrats who will listen to your views as equally as any other member.

  10. Fascinating article, great to see someone putting across the view that infantile shrieking in opposition is nowhere near as rewarding as actually being in government implementing long-held policy ideas.

    I had the pleasure of meeting ed Miliband when he was energy Secretary and he told me he wanted a future where politicians cooperate and work across party lines. To see him oppose long standing labour principles like electoral reform just because it was the other lot who proposed it saddens me.

    When I went to labour club at uni, I found that hatred was the dominant emotion of the labour party, having joined the lib dems the openness and friendliness has been overwhelming. I’m more politically active now than i ever was as a student all because of the people I’ve met.

    You’d be most welcome in the lib dems if you do choose the yellow path on Thursday!

  11. compdirector

    You absolutely belong in the Lib Dems. And you should think about joining Liberal Reform – we stand for 4 cornered freedom – Political, Personal,Economic and Social
    http://liberalreform.co.uk/

  12. All I want to say is I agreed with every single word of your fourth paragraph – there really is a different way to old Labour and the left’s state subsided handouts regime, and the Conservatives slavish adherence to the whims of big business.

  13. This is even funnier than when Luke Bozier joined the Tories. Another Blairite Tory decides to leave for pastures blue. But the hilarious twist is: he’s not even joining a party that matters! Instead he’s leaving for the Liberal Democrats, the eternal voting fodder and whipping boys of the ConDem coalition. The high rate of Blairite attrition is evidence of the progress Labour is making!

  14. You definitely belong in the Lib Dems. In fact you’re a living embodiment of everything that so neutered the Labour Party – who are definitely not going to become ‘socialist’ any time soon, so stuck in the centre-right rut as they are.

  15. isla Dowds

    I’m just astonished at how much of the Daily Mail view of reality you seem to accept without question…’ I’m in favour of a benefits cap because I don’t believe the State should subsidise someone’s lifestyle’. May I suggest you check some facts. Of course the LDs will welcome you with open arms.. Their poll rating are at an all time low. It doesn’t make them right, or honourable, but frankly if the word socialist makes you uncomfortable I don’t know why you ever thought you belonged in the Labour Party.

  16. You seem to understand us very well, hitting the nail square on the head as to what we’re about.

    If you join us you’ll fit right in.

  17. This is a great piece. I was once a Labour member in my early youth, but now I see just how the ‘god complex’ of many of the left seems to operate, a complex I once innocuously defended. This sums up the reasons for my own movement.

  18. Gayle Smith

    Hey. I say go for it . As an SNP member. I would face a tough choice if I lived in England or was of a soft unionist disposition. I genuinely believe that with there sincere commitment to federalism within the UK & proportional representation. Only the Liberal Democrats have a genuine belief in a real United Kingdom of Equals.

    The Conservatives ignore Scotland & Wales which they regard as the Celtic fringes. Labour in contrast believe they own our nations as there private property & are spiteful & vindictive towards anyone who challenges there authority. This could go a long way to explaining why my party have become so successful in recent years. People don’t like being talked down to.

    Will I ever follow you down the Lib Dem yellowbrick road? Probably not. Will I respect you more than Labour or Conservative Members. I think that’s what I would call a given.

    Yours Sincerely

    Gayle Smith Branch Member Glasgow Shettleston SNP

  19. Tristan – as a current and long-term LD party member I was (and this’ll make you laugh) going to urge you to reconsider your decision. The reasons you give for wanting to leave Labour seem to verge on a kind of environmental uncomfortability, and I was going to go into a song and dance about why Labour needs youthful members, despite the bland-beige managerialism of Miliband and Balls. And then I was going to urge you look closely, very closely, at the all the grim problems that are faced by real people at the foot of the ladder. Because, if you’re not a Tory, then it really is the avoidable suffering of the majority of the population which should be your field of concern….no, not concern, urgent committment.

    And believe it or not, that committment was one which my party, the Liberal Democrats, held as being central to their principles and raison d’etre. I can assure you, however, that that is no longer the case, And I was going to implore you to look critically – as critically – upon the notion of opening public services to market mechanisms as you would to union influence upon Labour policies (although honestly, for most of the last decade you would have been hard put to find ANY proof of union influence on Labour party policy).

    But then I realised – you are, as you say in your about page, 21 years old. Not meant to be patronising in the least, nor would I attempt to parallel your experiences of being 21 with my own. However, someone who is 21 has a chance to explore plenty of options before reaching any firm conclusions. So if you want to join the Liberal Democrats, feel free – the next few months are going to be quite singular, and with any luck some hard lessons will be learned. And that’ll be worth seeing.

    • I don’t think he’s expecting us to agree with all his views. I expect he knows we’re quite a broad church. I think his main attraction is at least he’ll be able to contribute and debate with his genuine views, and have a chance to influence policy though our democratic processes.

      Sounds like compared to his previous atmosphere such freedom would be a great breath of fresh air.

  20. Frightening so where does that leave me as a disabled woman who has worked all her life and paid into the system? I am facing swinging cuts to my DLA which won’t cure my condition, I need the NHS but with a chronic progressive illness who will treat me when it goes private, if I can I’ll get to dignitas ASAP. Just pray you never lose your job get sick or have an accident.

    • Its not going private. Private sector involvement does not equal “going private”. If it did you should blame Blair and Brown for “privatising” the health service because it started under them.

  21. Please go and go quickly,

  22. I’m surprised by the fact you are still called ‘comrade’ in party literature. I’ve never been called that, or worried that I’ve accidentally joined some kind of Marxist front group, the entire time I’ve been a member of the party. Nor do I perceive the class warfare you speak of in any of the four branches and CLPs I’ve been a member of. I appreciate that I am only presenting anecodal evidence, but then much if your post is anecdotal too. May I suggest you meet a wider selection of Labour members and activists before jumping ship?

  23. Wow – erm. You listed a bunch of policies up there and, er, they are all basically Tory ones.

    No idea why you joined Labour in the first place – did you fill in the wrong form and spend the next couple of years too embarrassed to stay.

    As a Labour supporter, may I say, in the words of a former leader of ours: au revoir, auf wiedersehen and arrivederci!

  24. The NHS won’t go private. You are believing Labour propoganda and they are lying.

    • “The NHS won’t go private.”

      Sure about that or have you conveniently forgotten Surrey NHS no longer exists. It’s owned by Virgin Health.

      • PCTs rush to bring in private providers to run GP services.

        One in three PCTs will strike a deal with a private company to run GP services by the end of this year, according to a major Pulse survey. The survey of 104 trusts shows the rush towards privately run NHS GP surgeries is surging ahead at a far faster pace than expected. Ten PCTs said they had already signed alternative provider medical services contracts, 10 had contracts out to tender and 12 planned to tender before the end of 2006. Far from being restricted to the deprived under-doctored areas envisaged by ministers, APMS contracts are already spreading into leafy affluent shires……… Remember it was Labour who brought in the selling off of the NHS…. It was Labour who made a contract with ATOS (2004)…. It was Labour who brought in A4e….. It was Labour who brought in tuition fees and they didn’t want a cap…….. do I need to go on? Labour is no friend of the ordinary working person.

    • Right Arthur I’ll hold you to that when I am refused my medication and treatment

  25. James Blanchard

    I’ve come to your blog after it was posted on Facebook, and couldn’t agree with you more. I grew up in a Labour supporting family, but always felt that the Lib Dems offered the best policies for ordinary families like mine.
    I joined a few years ago and couldn’t be happier with my decision, even if I don’t like everything the coalition does.
    I do hope that you join us, you are clearly a very thoughtful and erudite person and any local party would be the better for you.

  26. I will follow fellow Liberati in urging you to join us, the Liberal Democrats.
    I faced the same dilemmas when I was young, and, as some say, being in coalition is not for the faint hearted. However, you will build your resilience, get to adhere to genuine, utilitarian policies and wont get a dictatorial, contentious leadership that has confused and weak messages.
    I believe in an engaged electorate, active working local representatives and an informative and progressive government. The Labour party never provided anything along those lines in their 13 years in power in my lifetime. In comparison, the Lib Dems embody all of this and more.

    • I might have believed what you say once. But have you forgotten what your government is actually doing? And don’t give me the crap of what you have done. Very little it seems. Even New Labour managed to get something socially right.

  27. Reblogged this on Voice of A Citizen and commented:
    There’s not much to say… Welcome. The Liberal Democrats don’t always make decisions I agree with, but I can definitely identify with their values more than any of the other political parties… let’s hope that the electorate can see the values too and elect Liberal Democrats to Councils this week and give the Liberals a strong voice in London in the Mayoral Election…

  28. Mick Taylor

    The comments of people like Steve Kelly and the abusive remarks of others reinforce my lifelong commitment to Liberals and Liberal Democrats. I have seen the Labour Party in Action in big cities like Leeds and it’s not a pretty sight. Those people who are still in the Labour Party really ought to take a close look at their party. Undemocratic, arrogant, riddled with electoral fraud, and prepared to tell any lie to get elected and with a devine belief in their right to rule. [Viz: current Labour leaflets that say the Lib dems have abolished free bus travel, winter fuel allowance and other old age benefits, which is not only untrue but contrary to the Representation of the People Act].
    Welcome to the Lib Dems. We at least are prepared to tackle the UKs real economic problems and not deny responsibility like Milliband and his troupe of forgettful former ministers.

    And to those who still believe all that they read in the Conservative and Labour press, go find out what’s really happening and stop being lazy wityh the facts.

    • “and prepared to tell any lie to get elected and with a devine belief in their right to rule.”

      Tuition fees?

      • Yes Steve, can you answer why oh! why did Labour bring in tuition fees and why they wanted NO cap on them????

  29. compdirector

    What i find scary is that people like AnnieBishop actually believe that they will have to pay for treatment. Are you aware that your GP is already ‘private’. and they dont charge you. What matters is that the NHS is well fudned ( it is, there are now more clinical staff then in may 2010) and free. Don’t believe labour lies- NHS safe with the lib Dems.

    • Are you for real? Ask all those people who used to work for Surrey NHS who now work for Virgin Health. Doctors may work for themselves but there is no longer anything in place to stop them charging if they want. They weren’t allowed to before.

      It’s the Lib Dems aka Yellow Tories and the Blue Tories who are liars not the Labour Party.

    • “We at least are prepared to tackle the UKs real economic problems and not deny responsibility like Milliband and his troupe of forgettful former ministers.”

      (a) Like giving millionaires a tax break
      (b) Read the IFS report that debunked once and for all ‘It’s all Labour’s fault’.

      At least get your facts right.

  30. compdirector

    @Steve – why does it matter wehther doctors work for the state or virgin if the healthcare is free and well funded?

  31. I think Steve Kelly illustrates the point of this blog perfectly.

    As for the NHS, I went to hospital after the bill passed and I didn’t pay a penny for the assessment, treatment or ambulance ride.

    • It matters massively. Profit making companies should have no part in the health of people. Health is NOT a commodity.

      Forgotten about privatisation of the railways, energy….?

      As for you not paying anything. I wouldn’t expect you to yet. The Bill will take a few years to implement. But that won’t stop the likes of Virgin taking over.

      Naivity of the highest order Compdirector.and Michale

  32. But privatization on cost grounds is made illegal in the bill.

    Read it before you comment.

    • If you believe that then you really do believe your own propaganda. I repeat Virgin Health now OWNS Suryyet NHS. ALL employees were moved over to Virgin Health. They were told in no uncertain terme if theyt didn’t want to work for Virgin Health they could resign.

      As sure as night follows day, I certainly think the purchase of Surrey NHS by Virgin health is privatisation. Or is there some obscure definition.

      Get real Michael.

      Incidentally, I’ve just been writing a dental blog with a Michael Thomas being a spokesperson for Simplyhealth. Are you he or is it just a coincidence?

  33. Steve Bradley

    I am what you could call a ‘natural Labour supporter’, growing up in a working class Irish city throughout the Troubles. I came to England as a Labour supporter, but two things changed that. Firstly – the more I saw of Labour the less I liked the party. Particularly the way they blatantly + shamelessly abused NUS for their own ends. All the negative machinations of Blairite Labour – control freakery, intolerance, a reliance upon smears to silence opponents etc – were in evidence there before the party got into government. So Labour itself turned me off from being

    • I can well understand. I left after Blair destroyed the party. Ed Miliband is changing it but it takes time. The Blairites are finished in the party and Tristan knows it. Why do you think he is jumping ship, albeit to a halfway house which after 2015 is unlikely to even exist.

    • Steve Bradley

      (continued from above) … a Labour supporter. At the same time, I lived in an area where the Lib Dems were active + strong, + their core philosophies chimed with mine. So over time I slowly switched from Labour to Lib Dems – with the criminal Iraq War sealing it in concrete. I haven’t looked back, + still find how the Labour party conducts itself pretty disgusting. Join the Lib Dems – I can assure you you’ll only look back to wonder what you ever found attractive in Labour.

  34. Any evidence for your spurious claim that every member of NHS Surrey now works for Branson?

    I know they have signed a contract for some community services, but NHS surgeons? Get real

    Post a link to some hard evidence and I’ll obviously admit to being wrong.

    I’ve never worked in healthcare and probably never will. I’ve worked in leisure and finance. Different bloke I’m afraid.

  35. Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome — and hope to see you in Brighton!

  36. Smilin' Joe

    Lib Dems are Tory-enabling scum and everyone who has ever voted for them is directly responsible for the state of the country today.

    • Couldn’t agree more Smilin’ Joe. The problem is they really are deluded by thinking what crumbs they have offered the British people are going to make up for all the ill they have agreed to.

  37. Like I said, some community services have been outsourced to virgin.

    The fact is GPs, surgeons, A&E, ambulances are nothing to do with virgin health whatsoever and nobody has to pay anything to go to an NHS hospital.

    Just stop this lie that people are having to pay to get NHS hospital treatment. There are plenty of good, rational arguments against private provision without having to descend to lying about cost to patients upfront.

    But thereagain labour are now claiming that free bus passes and free tv licenses for the elderly have been scrapped, so maybe facts just don’t matter in this new age of enlightened, rational opposition.

  38. “The fact is GPs, surgeons, A&E, ambulances are nothing to do with virgin health whatsoever and nobody has to pay anything to go to an NHS hospital.”

    So that makes it all right then.

    Get real Mr. Thomas. The government with the complitic support of the Lib Dems is to privatise the NHS by the back door. It isn’t a lie and you know it in heart unless you are a Tory. But then again the old saying is never truer today than when it was first said: “Sctarch a liberal hard enough and you find a Tory underneath.”

    Lloyd George must be turning over in his grave now. Not to mention William Beveridge – 2 great Liberals of their time.

    The current crop of Lib Dems in parliament are duplicitous charlatans.

  39. What shocks me most about the Lib Dems is their willingness to vote for things that either they are totally opposed to, or else that they are secretly in favour of. Tuition fees is the obvious example, but more recently, voting to scrap legal aid for children who have been victims of medical negligence was a total shocker. OK, 2 Lib Dem MPs voted against it, but it will pass in to law because the remainder chose to support it. If that is the sort of part you wish to join, then you have two choices, Lib Dem or Conservative. Either will welcome you.

    • Just to add Lib Dem peers have also been doing some rather strange things I believe. For instance, voting against their own amendments.

      If Tristan believes contradiction, incongruency and duplicity are the key to being successful then the Lib Dems are welcome to him.

  40. T.P.: There’s an awful lot of hatred in these comments, which is a shame, because your post itself seems rather calm. If you’re confident that the Liberal Democrats represent your views better than Labour does, by all means, join them. I’m afraid you’ll face hostility for it, but that’s the price we all pay for trying to do the right thing.

    • He shouldn’t face hostility for doing it. It’s his choice after all. He hasn’t betrayed anyone except himself. But if he seriously thinks join the Lib Dems is going to enhance his political career (assuming he has one) then I think he will be sadly mistaken. The Lib Dems won’t be around much longer I suspect.

  41. I’m not offering an argument in favour or against NHS reform, that’s for another place. What I am arguing against is lying and the abusive manner that drives people away from the labour party purely because they realise that the world has to move on and stop pining for a nonexistant socialist utopia. Blair was a better leader than the entire shadow cabinet combined.

    Elections are won in the centre ground, not on the fringes. That is why ken is going to lose London to a tv personality.

    I’m not going to comment further because we are heading off topic. I’m a member of 38 degrees, which is a more suitable place to discuss the health service.

    • You say you are a member of 38 degrees. So am I, so that begs the question if you don’t believe the NHS is being privatised then why are you a member of 38 degrees. Incongruency or what.

      Two phrases. Choose the most appropriate for your circumstance: Denial or Ostric & Sand.

      As for elections being won on the centre ground. That might have been true once but the Lib Dems are no longer in the centre ground – they have moved to the right with their Tory friends.

      The mass of people are looking for solutions that this government is inflicting on us. The Lib Dems can’t have it both ways. Either they are in agreement with what their government is doing (it’s theirs / yours, not mine) or they should do the decent thing and pull out. I suspect the need to hang onto some semblance of power is what sustains them but they will pay a heavy price for doing so.

      If Tristan Pithers is now a fully paid up member of the neo liberal agenda as are the Blairites and Orange Bookers in your party then good luck to him. I have no hostility towards him for doing the right thing by leaving. My hostility is towards those same believers in neoliberalism . neoconservatism that’s utimately caused our problems and continues to do so, that refuse to leave. My party has moved on. We are taking the party back to what it truly believes in and we will win.

  42. nickhollinghurst

    Well, no-one agrees 100% with their party (or if they do, they’re a bit dodgy, IMHO). But while Labour are strong on aspirations to care for the underprivileged and reduce social inequalities, they don’t seem to be very good at either social justice or individual freedom. They’re all for égalité but less committed to liberté, and as for fraternité – forget it! I wouldn’t argue for any dilution of “fraternity”, myself, but raw “equality” needs, I think, to be modulated into “equality of opportunity” and “liberty” must be expressed within the context of social responsibility. Certainly in the lower levels of the Lab Party there’s a tendency to believe that ends justify means and they can be pretty nasty in campaigning. The bulk of the Labour Party has lost the plot. Come over to the sunny side!

  43. “I’m pro-business, pro-wealth, pro-private sector investment, pro-individual responsibility. I’m in favour of a benefits cap because I don’t believe the State should subsidise someone’s lifestyle, merely enable them to continue with their life. I want to see lower taxes for people in general. I don’t think the tax system should be punitive to the rich and aggressive towards wealth creators. Punitive taxation for the richest is not a necessity to have fairer taxes for the poorest.”

    Sounds like you’re more suited to the Tories to me.

    “Well I am not a Tory, although I would be more comfortable being labelled a conservative than a socialist.”

    Ah, okay. Actually that makes sense. The sad thing is that this incarnation of the LibDems are more conservative that socialist. However, just be aware that once this bunch of muppets are removed from government, they’ll go back to their left wind ideals and you’ll probably find yourself feeling out of place again.

    May I also suggest that you consider the Green Party? They are like the Tories of the left, so might be a more suitable option for you. Living in Brighton with a Green council I can tell you that they have ideological policies too, so are equally capable of screwing the poor and vulnerable, as you seem keen to do.

  44. I really never expected this much of a reaction to this post…it’s crazy!

    I would like to thank those from all sides who have been supportive and to those who have asked questions or made points I will reply.

    The abuse from some on the left just proves many of my points.

    I’m pleased to let you all know I have joined the Liberal Democrats.

    • Good luck to you. You will need it I’m afraid.

    • Robert Teal

      Hi Tristan,

      Again another “Welcome”, you’re obviously reflective and the Liberal Democrats will respect that, in my experience.

      Hope you can keep friends with those ex-colleagues in Labour. Friendship comes before Politics, in my Middle-Aged opinion…

      Robert, Rotherham & Barnsley Liberal Democrats

      • I agree completely about friendship and I think most people who liked me in the Labour Party will continue to do so. Thanks for your welcome.

  45. Pingback: A defection from Labour...to the Liberal Democrats!

  46. Well done. Good choice.

  47. If its people like Steve Kelly in Labour then I’m glad I’ve never gone near the party. Never seen a party that is so divided and cruel to each other. If a Lib Dem said they were going to defect to Labour I’d like to think I’d talk about the good things my party did and not the bad things the other did. Then, again theres not much to go on with Labour at the moment since they oppose for the sake of opposition. You wait until we sleepwalk into a Labour gov’t and see the eyewatering cuts they know they’ll have to implement.

    • “You wait until we sleepwalk into a Labour gov’t and see the eyewatering cuts they know they’ll have to implement.”

      That’s a bit rich coming from a Lib Dem whose party is in government (supposedly) with the Tories. Or have you forgotten?

  48. Glad to have you on board🙂 Particularly like your comparison of Liberal Youth and Labour Students😉

  49. Pingback: Ben Bradshaw’s Campaign Coordinator Defects From Labour Yet More Young Conservative UKIP Jumpers - Guy Fawkes' blog

  50. Labour member here, who is surprised that you were so unhappy with the candidates for the Labour leadership when Andy Burnham sits so firmly in the centre ground. Also, if you are really a Blairite, then I wonder how happy you will be in a party that has always been against the Iraq War. My CLP has its share of left-wing members, but there are also many who share my Blairite views, I am happy to report.

  51. Merseymike

    You have made thecright decision – anyone who would rather be called a conservative than a socialist should never have joined the Labour party

  52. New Labourites like Tristan are scum. Fuck off to the lib dems and let us have a popular left-wing party again.

  53. Peter Hirst

    At least one person in the country understands what is going on. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”

  54. Tristan’s piece is odd. To quote:
    I’m pro-business, pro-wealth, pro-private sector investment, pro-individual responsibility. I’m in favour of a benefits cap because I don’t believe the State should subsidise someone’s lifestyle, merely enable them to continue with their life. I want to see lower taxes for people in general. I don’t think the tax system should be punitive to the rich and aggressive towards wealth creators.
    What does it mean to be pro-business: are you pro fracking, are you pro price fixing, are you pro banks too big to fail?
    Are you really pro wealth? What does that mean? It seems to me that a lust for money lies at the heart of our problems. Money enables us to exchange goods and services in a convenient manner and is therefore essential, but it has a secondary function as an indicator of status. Wealth sums up its role in this secondary function, which is the contributory factor in so many of society’s ills.
    Are you really pro-individual responsibility? What does that mean? It could be a devil take the hindmost philisophy. Do you care at all for those not blessed with your intelligence, drive and enthusiasm? Do you regard them all as economic entities to be exploited. I regard myself as incredibly lucky in the gifts that life bestowed upon me, and I accept the need for individual responsibilty. But I recognise that I have abilities that allow me to exercise discrimintation in making choices. Does everyone have these gifts? If they don’t should we care?
    I have no wish to attack your views, but I would not have been surprised to have read that you had just moved to the Tory party.

  55. I have been a member of both parties at different times in the distant past. Both were a nightmare. About 25 years ago I abandoned the idea that one ought to belong to a political party. Given your views, I am surprised you ever thought it appropriate to join the Labour Party. Its mainstream centre of gravity was always social-democratic and you are plainly not a social democrat. You will find there are also a lot of social democrats in the LibDems. It is quite a divided party: there is plenty of disagreement about what it stands for.

    • Well I’m a social democrat in the Lib Dems and I have no qualms about working with more right-wing members of the party. In my experience, we seem to agree to disagree very well because, ultimately, there are common principles that we all believe in.

    • Robert Teal

      Hi Paul,

      Regarding the “divided” there is a Yin and Yang of Economic Liberals and Social Liberals; that much I agree.

      What I don’t agree with is that “division” is the appropriate description. The Yin/Yang is the creative tension in the Party as in the real world. How much “good” can be done though social programmes without taking away all incentive to work through high taxes? How much can liberty to harm oneself, ones family and community through, say alcohol, is possible and, if intervention appropriate, how can this be acheived without becoming Nanny?

      I find that Liberal Democrats WILL act for the Greater Good but only after reflection on the consequences. In my opinion Labour just believe they can legislate their way to Fairness and Tory’s think it is fine for injustice to continue as it is “part of life”.

      Thoughts?

  56. “I’m not a massive fan of the word ‘socialist’ being used to describe the party on the back of its membership cards.”

    Ironic really when it was Blair himself who drafted the new clause 4 which called the party ‘democratic socialist’. He also called himself a socialist (and simultaneously a ‘social democrat’) – which couldn’t be a better example of how the term has been emptied of all meaning.

  57. Had this linked to me by a good friend and fellow ‘Labour Man’ (not comrade..) and I must say it is excellently worded.

    As a long-time Labour supporter myself, I must confess that I too have felt this exact same deterioration in my connection to the party and its choice in politics, I had hoped that it was merely all part of a transition to ideals new to me (New Labour being the political era I grew up as part of and only working politics I had not only understood the benefits of, but felt them too) and would begin to make sense over time, sadly I can see myself consistently at ends with not only Ed’s stance on so many issues, but the party’s in general.

    I wish you good luck in your choice to join the Liberal Democrats and only hope that I too can find my place on the spectrum of British political parties.

  58. Scribestpatrick

    Keep travelling, I can see you in UKip tomorrow – you are only leaving a sinking ship and clamouring onto a rotten hulk of what is the Tory second eleven – bye bye

  59. Chris Phillips

    A thoughtful and logical article, thank you for writing it.

  60. Yellow Bill

    I was once a Lib Dem.

    As an activist in the last election I fought for fairness – a slogan, a set of principles the orange bookers in this government have forgotten all about.

    Where is the fairness in education, taxes or in society in general. Yes, we have the pupils premium but we also have tuition fees and a massive increase in academy/free schools. Yes, we have a tax personal allowance of £8000, but we have millionaires getting 5p knocked off their tax rate. We have a rate of austerity killing the country and plenty of loopholes so that millionaires are STILL paying less tax than their cleaners. And as for the tory version of the mansion tax – well and good if a millionaire is buying a house, but most of them are ensconsed in their ‘castles’. Finally I offer for discussion Dr Cables view on getting the country back on its feet, which was nearer to Labours stance than the coalitions laughable attempts. The arguement put forward was that the coalition found that things were so much worse that they imagined – fully ignoring that all the figures were placed in the Commons library (I refer you to Questiontime some time ago when Alister Campbell made this assertion and Chris Huhne didn’t refute).

    I am now in the enviable position of sitting on the sidelines saying I told you so to all my former colleagues, and pushing Lembits new book. I will rejoin the party after the next election – if the coalition is not renacted.

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