In defence of the Aberdeenshire Four… three… two

There has been a lot of murmuring at this Lib Dem conference over the debacle which has been raging in the Aberdeenshire Lib Dem Council Group over the past sixteen months as a result of Donald Trump. Bernard Salmon provides the background and I endorse what Neil Fawcett and Stephen Glenn have to say.

The one thing I would add is that the party is generally terrible at conflict resolution and generally running its own affairs with by the standard it would judge other organisations to abide by. The Scottish Lib Dems have past form of course – I may disagree strongly with a lot of what Neil Craig has to say but I haven’t yet seen anything on his blog to indicate his unsuitability to be a member of the Lib Dems. But you can’t single out the Scots. Last year there was that mess over Gavin Webb. My first article on Lib Dem Voice was over the poor handling of a complaint I submitted to the Federal Appeals Panel. Going back to my days in LDYS, I can recount two incidents: one where I was the subject of a complaint as a staff member which took the best part of a year to be investigated (I was eventually exonerated but had to have it hanging over my head while I was looking for a new job – a fact which almost certainly lead to me lowering my standards); and one in which I was the complainant which simply fizzled out into nothing. I could cite other examples, but I fear I would end up straying into the dark and murky world of defamation.

We have got to get a grip on all this. The party likes to wrap itself up in its image of being nice, and thus tends to kid itself that such structures are not necessary. As a result, the system is often use to trample on people in a quite appalling way, while letting others get away with the most appalling behaviour. If the FE is looking for something to do, then establishing a joint states commission to thoroughly review all aspects of how complaints and conflicts are resolved within the party and establish clear best practice protocols would be both timely and crucial.

In the meantime, I really hope people kick up a major fuss at the Scottish Lib Dem conference next weekend.


  1. Kicking up a fuss is this most innane manner will do nothing to help the process of healing that has just, but only just, got underway.

    There has been a vocal minority position that has been heard so far but a silent majority who have retained discipline in a manner some of you bloggers simply can’t understand.

    If you really care so much for this Party of ours then I suggest we all “blog off” and get down to discussing issues of far greater importance to the electorate who need our help right now in so many other areas of their lives.

  2. I have to accept that there are many things which make me unsuitable to be a member of the party. Not merely supporting the free market, lower taxes, the need for nuclear power to stop the lights going out & affordable housing through private enterprise & modular construction – all of which were the official reason for my expulsion as they were “illiberal” & “to right wing” even to discuss.

    All of these are basic economic liberalism.

    I am also, unlike the party, opposed to illegal wars, genocide & in favour of scientific & human progress & free speech.

    All of these are basic philosophical liberal positions.

    And all of them are wholly incompatible with memebership of the party because the party opposed them.

  3. Galen the fact is that the process you discribe had only just got underway (7 -10 days) when the exec pulled the rug out from under that process.

    Galen there are rumblings going on beneath the surface and it is the sources of some of those rumblings that made me speak out. These noises are from people who aren’t new to the party but some who are deeply embedded in what it means to be liberal and democratic.

    Personally I’m dreading conference at the weekend because we have a strong programme which I genuinely think needs to be heard. But I’m terribly worried the exec may well have taken an action that makes getting that message getting heard impossible.

  4. The one involving you as an LDYS staff member should really come under employment practices rather than conflict resolution. And the party is equally bad at those IME.

  5. Galen,

    Don’t presume to lecture me about discretion. If I was incapable of keeping quiet on sensitive matters, you’d know all about it, believe me.

    I don’t see any evidence in this case of the so-called “silent majority” being disciplined. They may not have spoken out, but they have certainly acted. Politics is best conducted in the full glare of sunlight, and the goings on in Aberdeenshire look distinctly murky from here. It isn’t “disciplined” to keep your mouth shut under such circumstances.


    I don’t lose any sleep about you no longer being in the party (although since you don’t feel you belong, I do wish you’d get over it – you seem to blog about it every week). I just think you should have left, rather than being kicked out.


    Well I was both a staff member and a sabbatical, which is a bit of a grey area. Nonetheless, in retrospect, it was handled in completely the wrong way and I should have been far more assertive.

  6. James et al,
    fine have it your way – we do still live in a liberal democracy after all

    I personally feel (and it might be my backside talking again!) that the Conference is really a public event and “hanging out our dirty washing” at such an event is simply great for our real opponents, the other political parties, as they will surely be the only real winners in such a sorry mess.


  7. Graham you have made it clear you have no objection in principle to my being driven out. That means you can have no objection in principle to what happened to Debra – merely a strategic objection that there is one less eco-fascist in the party.

    Since you are happy to see no liberals in the party you must acept that it is dishonest of the Pseudo-Liberals to retain their present deceitful name.

  8. Neil, this is a perfect example of why you have so friends.

    I did NOT say I had no objection in principle to you being driven out – quite the opposite. What I DID say is that I had no objection in principle to you leaving.

    What do you hope to gain by twisting my words in this way?

  9. But the subject under discussion is not Debra being expelled but her being pressured into having “left, rather than being kicked out”. Exactly what you suggest would have been the proper way to have treated me.

    In fact, as you implicitly accept, the party did treat me far worse than her & the fact is that she not merely approved of this but actively lied to do so.

    It is obviously thus impossible for anybody to honestly say she has been hard done by by her own standards.

    Whether expelling people for holding traditional liberal views & nonetheless being loyal to the party is more acceptable than pressuring somebody because they have made the party deeply unpopular by following destructive & eco-fascist policies against the wishes of their constituents & being disloyal to the party depends entirely on whether there is any place in it for liberals or whether there is total eco-fascist contol of it. The answer to that is obvious.

    My lack of friends, at least within the party leadership, may owe something to my pointing this out.

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