Last year I rejoined the Liberal Democrat’s from the Yorkshire Party. Unlike most people joining the Lib Dem’s I did not rejoin because of the EU referendum. Unusually (it seems so) I joined the most pro-Remain national party even though I voted for Brexit and feel more strongly now than I did at the time of the referendum that I made the right choice. It does seem a ridiculous decision when you look at it from afar, however my reason for leaving was that I felt, at the time, that a national party was better placed to deliver what I believe in:
- First class education for all where the teaching profession is given as much thought as the parents, pupils and results
- Real devolution for Yorkshire and any other region that wants it
- Electoral reform so that everyone’s vote has the same value irrespective of where they live
A big attraction was also the development of a local Lib Dem branch in my town which has all the hallmarks of becoming a vibrant group that could eventually challenge the Labour/Conservative domination in my ward. Brexit aside, I’d felt for a long time that of the major national parties the Lib Dem’s had policies that I was more in tune with. What I am going to say is aimed at the Lib Dem’s nationally not at the local activists who I have absolutely no issue with and who have been welcoming of my ‘different’ views on Brexit.
I’ve spent the whole Christmas period mulling this decision over. My view now is that the Liberal Democrat’s are a one issue party and will remain so until the UKs relationship with the EU is finalised. I’m not denying this is probably the defining issue of our generation, but I feel that my own views on Brexit have become incompatible with membership of the party – a view that has become clear from some of the flack I’ve received from Lib Dem members (not local ones!) because of my view. I cannot, with my hand on heart, actively campaign for a national party whose main (only? – ask voters) policy is the opposite of what I believe. Some will call me naive for doing this in the first place and I will plead guilty as charged. All I will say in my defence is that I really did think the Lib Dem’s profile nationally and their (then) breadth of policies, could deliver a devolved Yorkshire with the best education system in the country. I’d also felt welcomed, valued and listened to by the local Lib Dem branch, but ultimately no, whilst the national Lib Dem’s spend all their time talking about reversing Brexit, the future of teachers in this country is becomes yet more dire and Yorkshire gets no closer to real devolution.
I was elected a town councillor for the Yorkshire Party and proudly stood as a Yorkshire Party candidate in my ward for Barnsley Council in 2015. I feel now that I made a mistake in thinking my fight for devolution and better education could be better done through the national Liberal Democrat Party. I thought that a small regional party, taking into account our dire electoral system, couldn’t ultimately deliver what I believe is best for Penistone, best for Barnsley, best for Yorkshire and yes ultimately best for the UK. I was wrong. I believe people are tiring of the same old same old same old from the major national parties and that the time is coming where smaller, regional and independent voices are going to be heard.