Regular readers will have noticed that recently I’ve been even more grumpy than usual, at least as far as the Lib Dems are concerned. Even conference hasn’t had its usual endorphin-promoting effect on me. I’m aware of it myself and while I’m not in the business of handing out mea culpas, I am aware that I’m currently arguing my way out of party politics altogether.
The fact is, for the last four years, I haven’t really had a role in the party. I’ve blogged and for much of last year was on a policy working group. That’s it. I’m aware that needs to change if I’m going to retain my interest, but time is particularly precious these days.
These, as I see it, as my various options (you can vote for them on the sidebar):
- Get involved with my local party (Hendon): I’ve steered clear of Hendon for a couple of reasons. Firstly, having flitted from place to place for the past decade, my enthusiasm towards getting involved in yet another local party and their internal politics doesn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm (particularly since the plan is to move again in the not-so-distant future). Secondly, from a simple technical point of view, my membership was only actually recognised this summer despite the party centrally acknowledging my new address for twelve months previously. If I don’t even get told about things like AGMs, how can I take part? Nevertheless, the latter point has now been resolved and even if it is only temporary, there are distinct advantages to limiting my local activism for the local area.
- Get involved in another local party: the advantage of getting involved in another local party is that it won’t matter if I move again. I’ve considered switching to Lewisham but when I last tried it twelve months ago, nothing appeared to happen. Downside: can I really be bothered with all that to-ing and fro-ing?
- Make Reflecting Britain, my idea for a social networking site for promoting and developing members with more diverse backgrounds, actually work: I’m actually still keen on this idea but after a couple of false starts have come to the conclusion that it either requires technical expertise that I lack or significantly more time than I can afford. The idea behind it was simple: an online resource for people looking at developing themselves within the party (whether they want to be an MP, a councillor or a professional organiser) combined with a tool for matching potential mentors and trainers with individuals.
- Set up some kind of ginger group / blog: this was the idea behind my decision to buy the theliberati.net domain (as opposed to quaequamblog), only some people were way ahead of me with the Apollo Project (remember that?), Liberal Review (seemingly dead) and of course Lib Dem Voice. Hands Off Our Future was a similar attempt as well but I simply couldn’t maintain the momentum. There certainly is still an opening in the market out there: LDV is a portal not a campaign site and no-one is trying to take on the libertarian right, which now look set to reform around Liberal Vision in a populist way (Reinventing the State was a nice book but it should have been the start of something).
- Stand for a party committee: the simplest option, but the Conference Committee doesn’t interest me and I’ve come to realise there is a fundamental conflict of interest between my job and being on the Federal Executive. That leaves the Policy Committee.
- Give up blogging: blogging is essentially a negative activity – it is predominantly about why X is wrong. And while I’ve tried doing it in a more constructive way in the past, frankly I find I end up going in circles and repeating myself. There is a real argument that blogging reinforces my grumpiness with the party by forcing me into a position which I then have to defend. It’s far easier to change your opinion about something if you don’t express it first.
- Quit the party: it’s a serious option and one I’ve considered in the past. One of the reasons why I think that, on average, members of political parties are good people, is that they recognise you can’t have everything your own way and that in order to make things better you have to work inside the system. But my own politics are pretty iconoclastic and that sits uncomfortably within a political party. I’m not ever going to get a full, national Land Value Tax in my lifetime – am I? – no matter how hard I try to convince the Lib Dems. But then, maybe that’s just a failure of imagination on my part.
- Get a holiday: of course, the fact that I haven’t actually had a holiday all year is probably a major factor and a lack of time off prevents me from doing anything else. So maybe I just need a break. On the other hand, maybe that won’t solve anything fundamental.
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