Dissent in the Liberal Democrats

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Who is Neil Craig? Well, he’s certainly not an orthodox Lib Dem, being a climate change sceptic, pro-Nuclear and an apologist for the Serbs’ actions that lead to the NATO intervention in Kosovo. He even tiresomely has opted to describe Paddy Ashdown as a “Nazi” for backing that conflict.

Craig has been thrown out of the Scottish Lib Dems for writing a blog and letters to the press expressing views that are “illiberal & irreconcilable with membership of the Party.” And he was thrown out; Matt Bowles argues to the contrary, but it is clear from the letter that a unanimous vote by the Executive has already been taken to kick him out, and that his membership has been suspended until the 21 January when he has been given a right to appeal.

Tim Worstall believes this is an attack on free speech. Absolute tosh. In principle, any political party should have the right to throw out a member who clearly does not believe in the principles the party is founded on. The question at stake here is if Neil Craig is or is not ia liberal and has been fairly treated. Disagreeing with specific policies is simply not good enough, and a party which defines itself as a champion of non-conformity and freedom of expression should not be kicking people out lightly.

One of the big problems is Derek Barrie’s letter itself, which does not appear to abide by any standard of natural justice I recognise. The letter alludes to the blog and letters in the press, but not what the specific problem is. Writing letters or blogging is not illiberal per se. How is Craig expected to defend himself?

All the letters I’ve seen he has written would appear to be about nuclear power and energy policy, arguing about the practicalities. I can’t believe this is the reason for throwing him out; apart from anything else, Craig points out John Thurso’s equivalence on the issue; has he received a similar letter?

On the matter of condemning the Kosovo intervention, and specifically Ashdown, calling someone a Nazi is pathetically crass, but hardly grounds for removal. As a poster said on Tim Worstall’s blog, Jenny Tonge has made equally crass comments about suicide bombers, and was subsequently rewarded with a peerage. I don’t begrudge Jenny being given a place in the House of Lords as otherwise I’ve found her to be quite sound, but it does highlight the fact that basically good people occasionally say silly things on an issue they care deeply about.

More to the point, I suspect a great many people within the Lib Dems regard Noam Chomsky with esteem. Chomsky was similarly opposed to the Kosovo intervention. Personally, I tend to side with Oliver Kamm when it comes to his appraisal of the “great man”, but that doesn’t mean I want to see a purge.

But all of this is to get ahead of myself. The truth is I have no idea why the Scottish Lib Dems opted to kick Craig out. It may be that there is irrefutable evidence to show that Craig is all sorts of things that I wouldn’t want in the party. The fact that Derek Barrie omitted to point this out in his letter is a pretty serious failing however, hence this post. I’ve written to him to inquire what the reason is and look forward to his reply.

8 thoughts on “Dissent in the Liberal Democrats

  1. Hold up there. I did not at any point say it was an attack on free speech.

    The post is headed “Free Speech and the Liberal Democrats”…..it does seem to concern teh boundaries and limits of such at least, does it not? But I didn’t claim it was an attack.

    I actually said “How liberal of you”, making the point that you do above, that he’s been thrown out for blogging and writing to the papers. As the letter says.

  2. You are right about it not being a free speech point – any party has the right to exclude people who do not share its views.

    It is about whether my views (pro free enterprise, pro-science, pro-the rights of small nations, anti-big government) which are all liberal views on which the party was founded are acceptable in the current party, & if not what lthe party is.

    As regards Ashdown you may check in depth on my site. it is a matter of fact that he supported a supported 2 unrepentent former Nazis publicly committed to genocide “there can be neither peace nor co-existence with non-Moslems” (Izetbegovic) “genocide is commanded by the word of God” (Tudjman) & with a Nazi inspired organisation of drug dealers proudly engaged in genocide (their fisrt public act was the killing of a group of Serb refugees from Krajina & that he has perjured himself in the Milosevic “trial” claiming to have seen specific villages ethnicly cleansed while standing on the border when said villages are not visible from the border due to the presence of mountaains. All this to bring about a final solution to the Yugoslavia problem which makes the map look remarkably like Hitler’s.

  3. James, I just reread the letter; they have voted that he ‘should be’ expelled, not that he ‘has been’. A final decision is to be taken on 21st January. In the meantime, membership is suspended.

    Neil; if you want to stay in the party, I wish you luck in your attempt. As it happens, it’s an issue I know a bit about, a friend and ex is half Serb, and came here as a refugee, and I’d followed the story and indeed chose to study it extensively as part of my degree. Of the three leaders, it’s difficult to tell them apart, so I’ll go down to causation; Milosevic manouvered the break up in favour of a Greater Serbia, the others were sucked along. All three were bastards in my mind. Of course, if the result of Polje in 1389 had been different, Milosevic wouldn’t have used the speech to propel himself forward. However, as far as I’m concerned, it’s now history, we have to move on.

  4. Thanks Mat.
    I cannot agree with you that Milosevic manouvered the separation of Yugoalavia. As leader of the central government it would be difficult to start a war of seccession. The worst he can be accused of is not preventing the seccession of Slovenia & Macedonia. Though our allies Turkey & Spain have & the USA always said that they would militarily oppose seccession all UK governmnets have said that Scotland & NI can leave any time they choose to which makes our leaders as culpable as Milosevic.

    I also cannot agree that Milosevic, a man “to whom any form of racism is anathema” can be considered equivalent to openly genocidal types like Tudjman, Izetbegovic & the KLA.

    You will doubtless have read Milosevic’s speech at the field of crows (available on Emeperors Clothes but not the BBC) in which he tells people who have just been beaten up by Albanian police that Yugoslavia should be proud to be a country of many nationalities. I doubt if Michael Howard or Tony Bliar would have started an election campaign saying the same about Gypsies.

    The fact that there are, as you will know, 200,000 Moslems in Belgrade, 50,000 of them Albanian, while Zagreb, Sarajevo & Pristina are now mono-ethnic communities, speaks well of Milosevic & the Serbs. I would not be sure that if Moslem terrorists committed proportiionate atrocities in Britain (eg by spraying London with anthrax killing over a million & displacing over 10 million) that we would behave so well towards our Moslems.

    If you believe the Bosnia Hercegovina problem has now been finally settled, as presumably you think the Holocaust & the expulsion of Palestinians has) then I would remind you that the same appeared to be even more clearly true in 1918.

  5. Does being a climate change sceptic and pro-nuclear power make me ‘unorthodox’? Should I be worried?

  6. “The fact that Derek Barrie omitted to point this out in his letter is a pretty serious failing however, hence this post. I’ve written to him to inquire what the reason is and look forward to his reply.”

    Did he ever let you know?
    I did eventually get something from them & it was entirely about my blog – no mention at all about letters to the press.

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