I’ve always thought that it’s worthwhile periodically reviewing your beliefs, in the same way that some people periodically review their life and career plans (which, of course, I’ve decided not to bother with anymore). So as it’s 25 years since the Liberal Democrats were formed, it seemed like an appropriate time to review why I’ve remained a member for the last quarter of a century.
Since the coalition was formed it’s often seemed like hard work justifying my continued membership. At times, I’ve felt a bit like The Collector in J.G. Farrell’s fabulous novel The Siege of Krishnapur:
From the farmyard in which his certitudes perched like fat chickens, every night of the siege, one or two were carried off in the jaws of rationalism and despair.
While I’ve been bitterly disappointed at the way higher education has been handled since the election and become increasingly fed-up that almost no progress has been made on our most totemic beliefs about electoral reform, there have been enough positive things for me to believe that, on balance, it’s still worth being a member. Not all of my chickens have been carried off in the jaws of despair – some of them are even thriving.
One of the resources I’ve found useful during my review has been Mark Pack’s infographic outlining Lib Dem achievements since the coalition government was formed. The part which gives me the most heart (the healthiest chicken?) is reproduced below:
The strengthening of civil liberties and justice are important gains, as the other parties nearly always neglect them. There some honourable exceptions of course, but for me the overall health of our society depends crucially on such liberties being respected and protected. I remain unconvinced that any other party has these concerns as deeply embedded in their makeup as they are in the Liberal Democrats. I don’t remember any other party leader saying that they would go to prison rather than carry a government-imposed ID card for example.
So these gains are a major reason for me continuing to remain in the party, as grumpy and as fed up I feel about some of the other things that are being done by the coalition. Some influence is always better than no influence after all.
You may want to review your political beliefs in the same way – even if you aren’t of the same political persuasion as me. And if infographics really aren’t your thing, you could always try using “What the hell have the Lib Dems done” instead …