Yep. I joined the Liberal Democrats this morning.
Which is kinda odd, given that I didn’t actually vote for them on Thursday – I voted for Labour. Or rather, I voted for the left-of-centre candidate most likely to win in my constituency, who happened to be the Labour candidate and, fortunately, also someone I regard as a palatable human being and decent local representative. If I’d been in my previous consituency, I would have done the same thing, and happily voted for the Liberal Democrat incumbent, for whom I voted in 2010 and who I think did a very good job of negotiating his local role with membership of the coalition. I spent time with the four main manifestos (I couldn’t vote SNP, and I clearly wasn’t going to vote UKIP), and tumbled around the Labour, Lib Dem and Green promises. In the end, I didn’t have to make any choice beyond my general orientation towards the centre ground: I have to look right to see it, therefore…
But here’s the thing. I’m tired of tactical voting. I want to vote for a party and a candidate that I actually really want to vote for, that presents a vision of a future that I would like to live in. If there are going to be three (or more) centre-left to left-of-centre parties, I want to have to make the decision of who I’m choosing, and stick with it. That’s my responsibility as a citizen in a democracy. I actually WANT that responsibility.
I’ve been teetering on the edge of being more than an informed voter who actively campaigns on certain issues for a while, and yesterday, after yelling about the General Election outcome for the best part of 20 hours, I fell over it while working out what I wanted to do to in order to more to deal with a government I don’t like and didn’t vote for than just being an opinionated so-and-so on the internet.
I specifically really want to do something that works for electoral reform and pro-Europe in our now inevitable referendum. So, I signed up for updates from the Electoral Reform Society and Unlock Democracy , and I joined the party that has engaged me most for longest on these issues.
And, with the caveat that no party is ever going to be perfect fit (except for the Party of Me and My Stuffed Otter) the Liberal Democrats remain the party that is the best fit for me for participating in the day-to-day roll of politcial conversation and decisions – despite everything that’s happened over the last five years (yes, even the dumbness and betrayal of the tutition fee pledge). I think – I hope – that they’re serious about rebuilding from the ground up after Thursday night, and if I don’t get involved in what that looks like, then I don’t get to complain if I don’t like who they become. I’d like to like who they become.
Also, my membership card’s gonna have a picture of Shirley Williams on it.