I was reading Charlotte Gore’s debut on Comment is Free and, once I’d managed to dismiss the image of Alan Rusbridger as a mad scientist cackling evilly that the process of Toynbeeization had begun, this section caught my eye:
While libertarians, classical liberals and free thinkers were all in the bars and fringes of Bournemouth complaining about policy, the nanny state Liberal Democrats were all in the conference hall pouring reinforced concrete on our reputation as yet another mildly authoritarian social democratic party, just like the other two.
What I’m wondering is how many of us who complain about the direction the party takes on certain issues were in Bournemouth as voting representatives? (And this is where I’m being somewhat of a hypocrite – I’m one for my local party, but couldn’t make it to Bournemouth, though I was in Harrogate in March and will be in Birmingham next spring.) And if you were there as a voting rep, how much of the actual conference (as opposed to the fringe and the training events) did you attend?
The point is – and I’m not singling Charlotte out here, it’s just that it’s her article that prompted this train of thought – if you want to change the direction of the party, then you have to be in the room and voting when these decisions are made. It’s all well and good complaining about the Nanny Tendency within the party, but people are going to continue to push for another little ban here, another restriction there – all for your own good, of course, and won’t you think of the children? – if the votes aren’t there to block them because they’re in the bar, at a fringe meeting, writing a blog post or couldn’t be bothered to go their local party AGM and get elected as a conference rep. If you want to change things in the party then you have to be there – at a federal, national and regional level – to change them.
And on that note, while I wasn’t in Bournemouth, I will be in Huntingdon for Eastern Region conference next month so please say hello if you see me there.