Wednesday, 30 December 2015
Last week I tried to focus three months' growing frustration at the lack of focus (or focus) from a Liberal Democrat party still shell-shocked from its May cataclysm. It ended up, half-jokingly, being a parody of a tired party campaign-by-numbers format: the 'Six to Fix'. As so often with such a device, I quickly realised, it missed the point. It doesn't matter if you fix the internals of the engine if the thing doesn't move.
The three months have coincided with a bigger challenge I had set myself. While I had just about held onto my party membership under Clegg, unlike many other social liberals, I had cancelled my direct debit. So any actual renewal involved positive physical effort. My membership was due in September. Three months on, and such is the chaos in the party HQ operation (one of the six) that it hasn't even emailed out a reminder. After Syria, I am a lot less likely to renew, although the Federal Policy Committee's deliberations and adoption of a motion I authored has tempered the position somewhat.
It is as much about the political as the moral judgment. The Syria vote was for Parliamentarians an exercise in voting for people to be killed - whichever way you voted. The most difficult choice of all. However, it is one of a set of recent decisions (I will not repeat what I've previously written) in which positioning appears to have triumphed over a Liberal analysis of the issues at hand. And in the politics of 2015, when trying not to upset anyone is neither realistic nor attainable as a political strategy, second-guessing your opponents is a strange response to an existential threat to your party caused by a failure to connect with the electorate.