On Being A Liberal Democrat 99

In my week without blogging, sorting out much personal detritus, I have been taking stock of the past and contemplating the future.

I have decided to rejoin the Liberal Democrats. I know that will disappoint some readers, but as I said after Norwich North, I was forced to conclude that it was impossible to make any worthwhile impact as an independent in British politics. No matter how good a candidate you are, and no matter how hard you and your supporters campaign, the combination of voter party loyalties and media exclusion are killing. Indeed, I find I get much more media exposure when I am not a candidate.

Politics is about the governance of society, and that entails people working together and collaborating their views. It is by definition a social pursuit, so to attempt to pursue it entirely alone to avoid compromising any of your opinions is not politics but futility. Why should I ever expect anybody to agree with me on absolutely every point? Probably nobody genuinely agrees with absolutely every word of the programme of any political party.

I was a member of the National Council of the Liberal Party when I was just sixteen years old. I was in student politics as a Liberal then a Lib Dem, and remained a party member right up until I stood against Jack Straw as an indpendent in Blackburn. I wanted to stand against Straw to highlight hs role in rendition and torture, and would have stood against him as a Lib Dem given the chance.

I am very sad that under Clegg the Lib Dems have not come out more strongly against the Afghan War and against replacing Trident. There is a disconnect here between the party leadership and the members. I spoke to a fringe meeting at the Scottish Lib Dem conference in Dunfermline in November. We took a straw poll after my talk, and out of forty five only two were against immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan – which was less that the number of MPs and MSPs present.

I have never made any bones about my strong support for Scottish independence, and on this issue as well as on Trident and on Afghanistan it is my intention to try to influence Lib Dem policy. I am very attracted by the Lib Dem proposal of a £10,000 tax allowance, to be paid for by a tax on houses worth over £2 million and by raising the rate of Capital Gains Tax to equal the rate of income tax paid by the individual benefiting.

That is a far more radical and egalitarian proposal than anything New Labour have on offer, and would enormously benefit the less well off, make work more attractive against benefits and stimulate the domestic economy through consumer demand.

So I shall not be standing in the general election, but will be actively campaigning for the Lib Dems. That does not indicate any hostility at all towards the Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru or Respect, all of whom I hope do well.

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99 thoughts on “On Being A Liberal Democrat

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  • Will Rowan

    Craig, this is very good news.

    Quite aside from any party political considerations, it is *a good thing* to have an honest man one step closer to everyday involvement in politics & central government.

  • brian

    If the name of the game is to make “any worthwhile impact” then it would seem the Liberal Democrats might not be solution you’re looking for

  • Dick the Prick

    NNNNOOOOOOOoooooooo – err…okay then, fair enough. Dust off the sandals, pick up a few perversions, generally try and avoid saying anything relevant (could be a tough call for you Craig) and you should be alright.

    Honely joking. All the best.

  • arsalan

    I don’t think it is a wise move.

    The Yellows are as war mongering and Zionists as the other two colours.

    When you are kept busy campaigning for the Yellow zionists, will you still have enough time to help that Uzbeck boy who was nearly deported?

    Will your new masters in the Libs allow you to do such a thing, if it gets in the way of their politics?

    What happens when it comes to Zionism?

    Will the Liberal friends of Israel be able to put pressure on you to stop you saying what you need to?

    If you are sure they wont be able to stop you, are you so sure they wont be able to reduce what you say?

    Are you so sure you are such a superman?

  • Mike Cobley

    For what its worth, welcome back, Craig. I too have reservations about certain aspects of Libdem policy, and even though Cleggy’s paean to the memory of La Thatch enfuriated me I was a bit mollified by his conference speech. Arsalan is quite right about the LD Friends of Israel blot on the party escutcheon, but politics is sometimes about teeth gritting (which is not the same as keeping silent – I look forward to any pronouncement by the LDFI and the opportunities for polemic it may present).

    The LibDems aren’t perfect by a long chalk, but they shine compared with the pink and blue wings of the Business Party.

  • Paul J. Lewis

    You didn’t mention Proportional Representation (which I think you have said you are in favour of). Will you campaign inside the Lib Dems on this issue?

    If the Lib Dems really went all out on this issue they might win some votes, perhaps not just from abstainers but also from people who would otherwise vote Green, etc. If, that is, anyone really though they were serious about electoral reform.

    I’ve wondered why most the minor parties don’t band together on this one (with the Lib Dems being the obvious lead) at least to try and get this changed. Then they can go their own ways (with, hopefully, a large share of the vote thereafter).

  • ingo

    Can’t say I’m happy about this and find it vexing that you took this decision before an election, not after.

    I will not take part in this election at all, not for one or the other, nor do I feel the need to re join any party for their half decent programme or their possible support for change.

    I hope that the Lib dems will not use this new member to push their wavering war credentials on to an honest hand cart.

    Should they support any future attack of Iran as ‘inevitable’ despite their initial lukewarm objections, then I will say, told you so.

    I expect the blog to get a little duller as a result of your step backwards.

    I wish you all the best and hope that one day the Lib Dems will be able to present us with a proper mandate and are able to act to their convictions, i.e. PR and coalition building before elections.

  • arsalan

    “Another hate-filled rant from Arsalan …

    Posted by: Larry from St. Louis at March 22, 2010 12:11 PM

    I think Larry want’s you to join, so that means it must be wrong for you to join.

  • Jon

    I think I’ll take a look at their manifesto, but as ingo says, they have been extremely disappointing. I am in favour, for example, of “supporting the troops”, but if I were a liberal MP expressing a view on that, I would want at every occasion to connect it with a strong party opposition to the foreign policy that got troops into the mess in the first place. And yet all I hear from the LDs on the wars is talk about “mismanagement” and “more helicopters”, having been pushed into a red-white-and-blue corner by the reactionary press.

    I disagree with the assertion that the LDs are “as warmongering as the other two” – I honestly think they would not have taken us to war in Iraq. On Afghanistan maybe, and that is a shame, but they would have been better. As to whether they are “more Zionist”, I don’t really know. I’m with @Mike on this one – the cross-party rule of “all cabinent members in a FoI club” is worrying indeed, as per the recent Panorama programme.

    I wonder if anyone has done any full analysis of Israeli influence in the Commons, by party, by cabinet membership and by each member’s Hansard record? That would be a large, but extremely interesting, undertaking.

  • Stephen

    I remember a guy who tried to influence party policy and work from the inside, as it were, to bring about realistic electoral chances and a change for the good. What was his name? Tony, I think. Oh yes. Tony Blair.

  • LeeJ

    Craig, the RESPECT party has as policy withdrawal from Afghanistan and scrapping of Trident. It may only be a small party now but it is growing and opposes the main stream partys’ on most issues.

  • arsalan

    I believe the issues where the libs disagree with the other two are minor issues. The Major issue is the wars for Israel, the two now and the future ones.

    All the parties are the same on what matters to us.

    Yes craig is right, you have to work with people you disagree with because you will never find anyone you agree with all the time. But you don’t diregard the major for the minor. We don’t support the Zionist war crazed libs because we like their tax policy.

    We do it the other way arround. We disregard the minor for the major.

    We support people who we may disagree with on taxes because they agree with us that the wars must stop. The wars being fought now must end, and new wars must not be fought.

    So yes craig, work with people you disgree with, but not those Zionist bastards.

  • richard

    I can’t say I was 100% happy being in the LDs before, but I’m about 5% happier about it now I’m in the same party as Craig Murray.

  • Jon

    On Blair’s good intentions, I am warming to the theme discussed by Strategist, myself and others over a series of posts. He is convinced completely of his benign intentions, fully believes his own personal enrichment has nothing to do with it despite the available evidence, and does not regard his opinion of himself as over-inflated.

    Accordingly, it is intruiging to develop the theory that he is technically a sociopath, and that if he was not of the high-functioning kind he would have been receiving treatment by now.

  • Tom King

    Very happy to hear this. My decision to join a couple of weeks ago would have been considerably easier if this had already happened by then 🙂

  • rwendland

    On the £10,000 tax allowance policy, it is worth noting that the median part-time income is just $8,628. So, for part-time workers, a £10k tax allowance helps the part-time professional more than the poorer part-time worker struggling to earn a bit extra for the family. Especially if a £10k tax allowance is also used as a reason to lower tax credits.

  • Richard Gadsden

    Welcome back Craig.

    Can I suggest that you consider joining LDFP: http://www.ldfp.eu/home.html – I suspect you will find allies there against LDFI.

    I’d like to get out of Afghanistan, even though I thought the UK was right to go in; it’s been so completely messed up that I no longer believe that it can achieve the goals I saw the invasion as having in 2001.

  • sabretache

    Oh dear. If you seriously believe that the best way to work for worthwhile change in society is through membership of a mainstream political party, then I’m afraid my opinion of your judgement is dealt another blow. I don’t doubt your honesty, but is that really best you can do?

    Frank Zappa had it about right when he described party politics as “…the entertainment division of the military industrial complex”. Long since co-opted to the purposes of our ‘Permanent Government’, it exists to exhaust the citizenry in passionate tribal disputes over trivia leaving the the hidden Deep State Agenda (HDSA) largely untouched.

    If considered a potential asset, no doubt you will be found a safe LD seat in the wilds of Cornwall somewhere and your battle with the accommodations of principle required in any ascent to Privy Councillor-dom will begin. Zealously defend and promote ‘The Official Narratives’ of the HDSA in ways that are seen as useful and, Tony Blair-like, your demeanour will change and who knows, you too may eventually trouser 20 million quid; or maybe emulation of the former MI6 Head of Geneva Station is more your thing – right party, no special forces service but more than made up for by the experiences of an ambassadorship I’d say – and our SIS’s are always on the look-out for ways to co-opt or compromise dissent – past masters a ‘making offers that simply cannot be refused’ in fact; or perhaps simply remain in assumed non-threatening ignorance of what is required of you, and Nick Clegg-like you too may retain that air of naive injured innocence – though at least whilst earning a living wage.

    But – BIG but – become a serious threat to that HDSA and, Harold Wilson-like you will be resigned, or Michael Foot-like you will be ridiculed, or Claire Short-like you will be marginalised. knowing what I think I know of you however, I’m afraid that a somewhat more likely scenario is probably that which overtook Robin Cook.

    Best wishes nonetheless.

  • Paul Johnston

    Do you actually think there is a chance of being given a winnable seat in the future or do you think they will consider you too lose a cannon?

  • arsalan

    “Do you actually think there is a chance of being given a winnable seat in the future or do you think they will consider you too lose a cannon?

    The only chance they would give someone like Craig a winnable seat is if he sells out completely. And even if he sells out completely, that chance would be very slim.

    If he doesn’t sellout they will use him to compaign on areas where Craig agrees with Libs, to free up others to campaign for things like Zionism where Craig disagrees with them.

    So it is never a good idea to work with the Larry’s of this world, even if we limit it to the few things we agree on.

    Libs are a Pro War, Pro Zionism Pro Torture party. To work with them would be like sting saying, “I did do that song thing but I didn’t help Karimov boil anyone alive”.

    I think Craig would cause a massive stain on his name if he does that, one which will not whipe off completely even after he leaves when the Libs give their support to Israel’s next Gaza slaughter, or Craig gets kicked out for supporting the Palestinians doing what they can to stop themselves from dying.

  • Vronsky

    “I have never made any bones about my strong support for Scottish independence, and on this issue as well as on Trident and on Afghanistan it is my intention to try to influence Lib Dem policy.”

    Which is to say, you hope to influence Lib Dem policy more than the Labour Party. Good luck with that! Cut out and keep these questions, and look at them in ten years time: (1) Will the Lib Dems ever form a coalition with the SNP in Edinburgh? (2) Will the Lib Dems (ironic title, in this context) ever withdraw their opposition to a referendum on independence? I can tell you now that the answer to both will still be ‘no’.

    I have endless respect for you Craig, but you’ve made a mistake. You despise Labour, but you’ve joined their poodles. Much better to have come to Scotland and joined the Nats, who have consistently opposed the Blair/NATO wars, Trident and the rest of the post-imperial lunacy. I know that kicking the Union to bits isn’t by itself a solution to the UK’s problems, but it is the essential starting point for the project. The machine needs dismantled before it can be fixed, and working for Scottish independence is not neglecting the aspirations of those in other parts of the Union. Tear up that card now, and take the train north. I think minority government would suit you.

  • Alfred Burdett

    God, what a dreadful prospect: the Liberals seeking to outbid Labour for the mob vote by promising greater transfers of wealth. And it may work, too, electorally, that is, meaning a place for some Lib-Dem boneless wonder in a coalition government. Meantime, more capital will take flight, and more job-creating entrepreneurs will emigrate to countries with saner governments.

    Of course if you really wanted to help those in poverty, you’d want to give the poor economic independence by raising their wages, not by making them dependent on handouts, i.e., wealth transferred from the more or less successful members of society via a vast bureaucracy that absorbs most of the money in overheads.

    With eight million workers either on the dole, working part-time when the want fulltime work or who simply despair of finding work and have given up looking, the first thing to do would be to end the massive competition for low-end jobs created by an annual influx of immigrants equal in number to the combined populations of Manchester and Leicester.

    But what the Hell: you want to see the country bust up anyway. So economic wrecking looks like a way to go.

  • Woody

    Craig, you clot. If you’d come to this earth-shattering decision a few weeks sooner you could have stood for election in my constituency in North-West Norfolk just down the road from Norwich. This lot here are so dozy they left selecting a PPC until Feb and could muster only one taker at the hustings.

    Not that you’d have won – it’ll be a 10 year mindnumbing slog – but at least you’d have given the local scene and media a jolt.

  • mike cobley

    “Libs are a Pro War, Pro Zionism Pro Torture party” says Arsalan.

    No we’re not. Of course, you’re free to disagree and present what evidence you can cook up. If so, its gonna get ugly.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Fair enough Craig – if you can influence the party and maybe one day be a Lib Dem MP (and who knows – even party leader possibly) it could make a big difference.

    I doubt i’d have the patience for all the politicking and in-fighting and personal jealousies you get in political parties, but i suppose you get them in every walk of life to some extent.

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